Les and I just went for our first skinning dip in the ocean together. It is completely dark here by 6:30 PM and we went out about 7 so no one could see us even if they were near.
The place we are staying for now is a very large lot with the house located in the center of it. We are about 1 ½ miles from our own lot.
The beach here lacks a lot in the sand department. It is very much like ours, all rocks. Most are muskmelon size or smaller but some are as big as basketballs and all of them are loose and can move if you step on them. It makes it a challenge to walk out to the water.
I will try to put gravel on part of my beach to see how long it stays in place. If it stays long enough to justify the cost I will probably replace the gravel as needed when it washes away.
We are renting two rooms here. They are on the second floor and are only rooms in this building they rent out. The first floor is storage for lumber and junk. The landlords are a large family of at least one doctor and one businessman. I have no idea what the other people do for work but it sounds like we will be alone here almost all the time. These rooms were only built so the extended family would have a place to stay for reunions, parties etc. Since we are renting them they will all stay in the main house like they did before they built these rooms.
We took over two rooms of a third building for our kitchen and washing machine. It is not exactly the most convenient but it will work fine for the six months or so that we will be here. We rented the second room for her kids to stay in at Christmas if we are here and to store some of our junk in. Both rooms have queen beds with private bathrooms. We asked for a water heater to be installed in our bathroom and they did it.
If anyone wants to visit we can put you up very well at any time. It will take about 10 minutes to organize our junk in the other room is all. Both rooms are pretty big.
I would love to have visitor/visitors from home.
My plans have had to change about my house plans here several times in the last few weeks.
My first plan was to buy a shipping container and convert it into a temporary house for us to live in while our house was being built. We planned to rent it out as a resort room or apartment after we moved into our house.
I put a $400 deposit on a Hi-cube container (9’ 6” high overall compared to a standard container height of 8’ 6”) last month. Les had talked to one of the ferry captains here and was told one of the ferries was able to haul it. Well the captain was wrong. It is too tall once it is loaded on a truck.
My next plan was to build an 800 square foot house made from steel and put it in the same place the shipping container house was going to be located. We soon realized the costs were spiraling out of control to build that house as well as a concrete house for us.
My current plan and hopefully my last is to build a steel house on the same footprint as the small house but make it two story and 1600 square feet. It will also have an 8’ wide by 40’ long patio on the ocean side and a balcony on the second floor above the patio.
I was planning to build a concrete house about halfway between the highway and the ocean but I would have needed to buy a lot of fill material because I have been told several times that it used to flood here during heavy rains. They have done a lot of work on drainage along the highway but after suffering from two floods in CDO I refuse to take a chance.
Our steel house will be very near the ocean and built on legs over 3 feet high so that if it does ever flood the water will just go under the house. The ground under the house is 8.9’ (106”) above sea level. I do not remember if that was high tide or low tide when we measured but the tide here is only 12” – 14” so it is not too important. My floor will be one meter (39”) above that for a total height above sea level of 12.1’.
That is not quite as high as I had hoped but the higher I make it, the more steps I have to climb to get into the house. Life is a series of tradeoffs.
We are renting two rooms in the town of Sagay just over a mile from where our house will be. The rooms are brand new and still need some work done but are pretty nice. The owners are part of a big family and they built the rooms to stay in while they are on Camiguin for parties/reunions.
The biggest advantage of a steel house compared to a concrete house is the speed it can be built. A concrete house like I planned would have taken at least a year to build. I think we can be living in our new house sometime in early 2018.
Les and I will go back to CDO tomorrow. She was not happy with the progress the workers were making on the addition to her mom’s house so she fired them. Now she needs to tell the new men what she wants done. I need a few more tools and materials anyway so I will take her and bring her back to Camiguin on Thursday. The round trip to take my truck on the ferry plus the diesel costs about $100.
Since my last post (20 minutes ago) I have been sitting in my room reading news and playing solitaire. It is 5:15 AM by the way. The sun is starting to lighten the sky in the east but is not above the trees yet.
Then I heard a dull roar outside. I could tell it was not very close to be but I could tell it was loud (I have the a/c on and the room is made from concrete blocks.) I went outside to see what was going on. It was what is called a bonka boat. I do not know if that is how they spell it but that is the way it is pronounced.
They usually power the small boats here with about a 16 HP Briggs and Stratton engine and I have yet to see one with a muffler. They are deafening to ride in. I know it is a cultural thing but most Filipinos have NO consideration for anyone but themselves and it drives me nuts sometimes.
There are very few restrictions here about livestock of any kind. A lot of people raise fighting cocks and if you remember anything about chickens you know the roosters like to crow. The more roosters in a small area the more they crow. A lot of the motorcycles here use a straight pipe instead of a muffler.
There goes another boat right now.
They also raise a lot of pigs right in the city. The smell is not as bad as you might think because in most cases there is only one piglet tied to a tree but it is probably right on the path you have to walk on so you need to walk around the pig and watch what you step in.
Since most traffic laws are nonexistent or not enforced here it can be a challenge to drive. People stop and talk anywhere they want, double and even triple park making a wide street into a one car width lane.
There do not seem to be any noise ordnances, leash laws, public drinking laws, etc. Since I tend to be very libertarian that all sounds good until you have to live with everyone doing anything they want to do.
I will be glad to get moved into my house when it is finally finished. It is on a very quiet area of the island and should be very peaceful.
I will attach a few random pics showing some of my lot and the beach.
I have been staying at a beachfront resort on the far side of Camiguin while I get the carpenters busy on my lot. It is about 15 miles but takes about 25 minutes to drive because of slow traffic but also because of the curvy road that follows the coast.
I have been alone for the last week while Les has been in CDO buying everything on a list of things for our construction that I have updated every day. She is on her way here now at 4:30 AM Sept. 9th.
We have two brand new rooms rented in the small town of Sagay which is actually the municipality our house is in but the rooms are in the town proper and we are about a mile away. The rooms are not quite finished yet but I dropped by yesterday and nothing has been done since we agreed to rent them almost 2 weeks ago. I am not sure what is going on. I will push to move in tomorrow one way or another.
I brought 2 carpenters and 2 laborers here from Mindanao on August 8th. One of the laborers got home sick and quit after the first week so I hired one local man to replace him.
One of the first tasks to be done was cut some of the coconut trees down that were in the way. I could have easily cut them down if I had a chain saw but I did not have one at that time so I hired a guy to cut them down and then use the chainsaw to cut them into 2X lumber. I have seen a lot of lumber here that was cut freehand by a chainsaw and I was not impressed. Most of it is nowhere near equal thickness from side to side or end to end.
I watched the guy cut my trees and was amazed at how well he did. It is not sawmill quality lumber mind you but considering how primitive the methods were that he used he did a fantastic job.
He started by using a homemade “chalk line” to mark the truck where he wanted to cut. The chalk line consisted of an old oil bottle that he somehow had put a string wound onto a small stick with a fork on one of the sided that was sticking out. The string came out the lid that had a small hole in it. He used the fork to wind the string after chalking the log. Instead of chalk he used old motor oil as a marker. It was very crude but effective.
He then cut along the lines he made (2 or 3 inches apart because that is what the carpenters wanted) about 2 inches deep to make either 2X2s or 2X3s. He did a great job. Les talked to him and he said he has been doing it about 10 years.
There are two dead trees on my lot that one of the carpenters said will make great lumber for furniture. I do not want them cut now because I do not know what I will use the lumber for but I asked the guy about cutting them for me. He refused because he said the lumber is too hard and dulls his chain. I also need a big limb cut from a live tree of the same species that he refused to cut. He said it is too hard to cut with his big chainsaw. He has a Stihl 070 with a 36” bar. He said it weighs about 40 pounds. I think it does not weigh quite that much but I admit I would not want to try to use it when I am up in a tree.
I bought a Stihl 391 I think. I am not sure of the model right now. It has a 24” bar. It is at the lot still in the plastic wrap they put it in. When I am ready I will have the carpenters use the pipe and clamps I bought to build scaffolding under the tree limb and I will cut it myself. I have a feeling it is the bark that dulls the chain so I will try to cut most of the bark off with a hatchet before I saw the limb.
When I know what I will do with the lumber, I will have the guy come back to cut the dead trees. I will buy a new chain for his saw if I have to then save the chain for future use.
I will attach some pics of the sawing operation. The German guy who lived in the wood house when I bought it said there were 56 coconut trees on my property. Many of them are not very big yet. I LOVE trees and did not really want to cut anymore down than necessary but after sitting on the lot while the guys are working I am starting to rethink that. I have seen TWO, count them TWO coconuts fall while sitting there and I have only sat there for a total of maybe 20 hours. Both fell on days with only a very gentle breeze.
Considering those trees are at least 50 feet tall and a coconut weighs about 8 pounds or so, I have decided coconut trees are not safe to be around.
I will try to post an update more often from now on.
I came back to Camiguin alone on Wednesday because Les is busy trying to get her mom’s house construction finished in CDO and I need to be here to keep the carpenters busy.
The internet connection on Camiguin is slow at best. I was able to Skype with Les last night with fair results. The pic was a little blurry but OK. Tonight we were Skyping with very blurry video then got cut off and now I cannot even send a FB message because of my slow connection. I do not NEED the internet but I will admit I have become very adapted to it and miss it when I cannot use it. It has been a couple hours since we got cut off and I still cannot connect to any website.
There are 7 ferries that run between Mindanao and Camiguin. All of them are about 100-130 feet long and will hold about 10 cars or 3 or 4 trucks and a few cars. There were 4 straight trucks on the ferry with me yesterday.
The ferry ride here yesterday was the rockiest I can remember. It was not bad but I started out sitting in my truck on the bottom deck. I could not see anything beyond a few feet because of other vehicles and the ferry hull beside me. I started getting slightly sea sick so I went to the passenger compartment. The waves were only about 3’ from the top of one to the bottom of the trough but the wind was blowing about 20 miles per hour.
Most of the ferries here have a ramp on the front so they can pull right into the sloped dock and unload wheeled vehicles. The connection between the ferry and the hinged ramp is not water tight and I could see that we were taking on several gallons of sea water per second on the windward side. I am sure (hope anyway) that the ship’s bilge pumps can handle several times as much water per second than we were taking on. The trip usually takes almost exactly one hour. It took an extra 11 minutes yesterday.
When I was driving the highway along the coast I could see that the waves were bigger than I have seen here before. Not bad mind you, just bigger than normal. On my beach they were only about one foot higher than I have seen before. From the looks of the debris that has washed up in the last 2 months I can tell some storms have waves at least 5 feet higher than normal. My house will sit at least 15 feet above sea level though.
My last attempt to get on line last night was about 2 AM. I gave up and went to bed after writing most of this post. It is now 7:45 and I am Skyping with Les just fine. The video is blurry but the sound is OK.
Les told me there was another landslide that blocked the highway between the ferry port and CDO. There are other roads but it would take many hours of extra time to go on those roads.
I will try to do another post tonight with pictures of my lot.
A couple of you have commented about my lack of activity here lately. It has a couple of reasons. The main reason is I have been lazy. I have also been working on Camiguin trying to decide where to put my house as well as what type of house to build. I know it will be steel and concrete with no wood other than kitchen cabinets and the closets.
There is an existing wood house that is on 3 ½’ tall concrete posts but the termites have eaten the floor joists to where it will not be safe much longer. It is not uncommon to see a roof with wood rafters being replaced by a roof with steel rafters. I hate doing things more than one time so I try very hard to do it right the first time.
I will also use galvanized steel because it will last longer than painted steel in the salt air (at least I hope it will last longer.)
I have never built a major building before so this is all a new experience for me. I am preparing to move to Camiguin full time while still renting the house in CDO until the end of January because we have no place to store our things on Camiguin yet.
A note about the storm that hit Texas. This is from Wikipedia about a storm that hit the northern Philippines in 2011.
“ At least 30 percent of the annual rainfall in the northern Philippines can be traced to tropical cyclones, while the southern islands receiving less than 10 percent of their annual rainfall from tropical cyclones. The wettest known tropical cyclone to impact the archipelago was the July 1911 cyclone, when the total precipitation for Baguio was distributed over the four days as: 14th – 879.8 mm (34.6 in), 15th – 733.6 mm (28.9 in), 16th – 424.9 mm (16.7 in), 17th – 200.4 mm (7.9 in); followed by extraordinary drought from October 1911 to May 1912, so that the annual amount of those two years were hardly noticeable.”
For those of you who are mathematically challenged or do not want to use a calculator, that storm dumped 88.1 inches of rain on the city of Baguio in just four days. I remember reading many years ago that Van Wert or Ft. Wayne ( I do not remember which) gets an average of 37” of snow per year and an average total accumulation of perception (rain plus snow) of 37” per year. That means Baguio got over 2 years of Van Wert’s normal annual precipitation in 4 days.
I am in the southern Philippines and do not need to be too worried about typhoons but we do get heavy rain sometimes as a result of them just like Ohio can get a lot of rain from the tail end of a hurricane. We got about 17” here in less than a week and over 5” in one day but it did not cause flooding in my subdivision about 3 years ago.
I have been warned twice that my lot on Camiguin floods but I do not see how since it is so close to the ocean. There is a stream that forms part of my property line but the previous owner put in a retaining wall and he said the water never got more than half way up it.
Where my house will sit is about 12’ above sea level and I will build my house up another 1 or 2 feet to add even more insurance against flooding. That will put me about 6” above the road that is about 75’ from where my house will sit.
The typical Filipino house is made from very weak concrete blocks (they do not put enough cement into the concrete they make the blocks from) and wood door/window frames, and wooden rafters with very very thin sheet metal roofs.
My house will be poured concrete with plenty of rebar in it for strength and metal rafters and a much thicker metal roof.
My house will be wheelchair friendly because a person never knows what will happen in the future.
So far I only have 2 carpenters and 2 laborers working on my building site getting ready for the house but that will soon increase to perhaps 15-20 workers total.
It is late now and I am very tired. I hope to go back to Camiguin sometime tomorrow so I need to get to bed. I will try to update more often.
I walked yesterday at 5:30 AM and again today at about 5:20 AM. I tried very hard both days to walk fast to get into better shape and work my heart/lungs more. I only walk about .6 miles and it takes about 11 minutes so I am not walking nearly as fast as I used to but I am still out of breath when I get back.
I think I will have to slow down again or give up my walking for exercise completely because I notice my left hip is starting to bother me again. I have never enjoyed walking to doing anything else just to exercise but I do know it is required to stay in at least good enough condition to be able to walk so I can go grocery shopping etc.
I may try swimming when I move to Camiguin next month since it will not affect my knees or hips like walking does. Since my lot is right on the ocean I will have a great place to swim once I put gravel on top of the barnacles or broken shells or whatever cuts my feet and hands when I try to use my beach. If the gravel does not help or if the current washes the gravel away I might walk or drive the 3/4 of a mile to a very nice swimming pool. It is a public pool and will be pretty expensive to use everyday (50 cents per day lol) but it might be worth it. We will see.
I have been surfing on Amazon again and found a few more reasons I have NEVER had anything shipped here.
The shipping fees are bad enough but when the import fees are almost double the price of the object it is not feasible.