Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Maligcong, Mt. Province: A Rainy Topload, A Treasure Trove of Mushrooms and Puppy Love

Treasure trove of mushrooms  - a gift of the earth born of thunderstorms
It was hot and a bit muggy when we left Manila for Baguio on a Monday night.  By the time we got to Baguio, it was not chilly at all but the air seemed to be rife for precipitation.  The radio station the taxi driver was tuned to announced afternoon showers.  We hoped the heavens would hold out until we get to Bontoc and onto Maligcong.  I digress but I was happy to see my canine friends, Whitey and Browny, over at the Mountain View stopover in Sabangan, the last pee-break stop an hour and a half away from Bontoc.

We arrived in Bontoc proper starving (we didn't eat at Ricken Star because we were still full from our Sab-Atan chicken and fried rice early, early breakfast) and found out that there was a full-day power shortage.   So no Goldfish Cafe coffee, the gleaming espresso maker rendered silent and useless by the blackout.   Then off we went to the Bontoc Turismo office to meet up with Eli, the province's friendly tourism officer, to arrange for the next day visit to Humuyyo Falls in Talubin.  The power shortage followed us all the way to Maligcong along with the rain.  We were happy to catch the 2:30pm jeepney even though it was full, opting as usual to ride topload.  A fourth of the way, the driver handed us toploaders a large tarpaulin as the heavens opened a celestial faucet (or was it a dam?).  I was nearly soaked to the bone as I have to look straight ahead in the opening of the tarp for low-lying overhead water pipes.
Puppy Love: Maku, the new pup on the block, napping on my lap after a bath
It was still raining when we alighted 25 minutes later at Suzette's Homestay.  I was sleepy prior to the jeepney ride as I wasn't able to sleep on the Victory Liner bus ride to Baguio but the cold rain roused me from my narcolepsy.  After greeting Suzette and unloading my stuff, it was off to a cold (very cold) shower.  My favorite canine, Kunig, was nowhere in sight, perhaps gallivanting and courting somewhere in the main village.  But lo and behold, there was Maku, I think just barely two months old.   Aww, such an adorable, new canine to befriend.

Kibitzing on the veranda, Suzette showed us a bounty of mushrooms picked just the day before with her kids on Mt. Kupapey.  I was here almost the same date as last year and I was pleasantly gifted with fresh and tasty mushrooms served with every meal.  With the coming of the rains and thunderstorms, the earth yields its treasures of the tasty fungus - yellow, brown, small and large, button-shaped and umbrella figures.  It might seem a hassle to be caught in the downpour that continued until the evening hours but I'd like to think the thirsty earth and rice fields welcome the life-giving liquid.  Ditto the fungus that thrive in the undergrowth.
The beautiful light and fog hiding the school house on the ridge
At way past midnight, the sky cleared and the stars littered the night sky.  It was if the downpour earlier never happened.   It was a wet welcome that will become a trend for the next few days.  In the morning, the light was beautiful even if the fog bank rolled in and out in a hurry.  The birds tweeted on the nearby trees; the fields wore a deep shade of green.   The following days, we let nature wash away the traces of the city.
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