A hermit comes out of the cave from time to time.
That was certainly how our weekend was like. Imagine an introverted couple dreading the idea of socializing days before the said event.
We received a rare invite to a friend's modern tropical seaside home here in Moalboal, on the island of Cebu, Philippines. It was a lunch barbecue by the beachfront pool. Each family was to bring home-cooked dishes to share with three other participating families.
Having recently turned part-time vegan, I wondered what dishes I could prepare that they might enjoy. I woke up early and cooked up a storm. With the help of @iamyohann in peeling vegetables, we were able to pack three dishes; Vegetable spring rolls, Vegetable Tofu fried rice, and Butternut Squash Coconut Curry Soup. I wanted to create dishes that would compliment the meat and seafood barbeque other families will bring to the casual get-together.
It had been raining the previous days and the clouds were grey that morning. We arrived exactly at noontime and were greeted at the door that was left ajar. Our children were ecstatic and the girls fled towards the backyard terrace facing the sea.
The pandemic left these nuggets of truth, social interaction is valuable, and that sharing meals together with friends is considered a luxury. My sociable self took over while the hermit in me started to relax and enjoy the moment, notably without alcohol (yet).
We all moved on to the adjacent hotel property where the grill was, Dolphin House which was closed until the pandemic is over.
I didn't take photos of the gazebo but here is an image of how the resort was pre-pandemic:
Dolphin House View from the gazebo at sunset
It was before Covid during the high tourist season the last time I was there. It's a beautiful area of Moalboal in front of a popular dive site- Dolphin House Reef.
I remember lively colorful sunsets, travelers lounged by the gazebo, a couple huddled over a plate of sushi at the outdoor restaurant, chillout music played ambiently throughout this vacation haven, and a Sex on the Beach cocktail at the bar.
That day, we had the place to ourselves. The property owners brought out plates and cutleries from the quiet restaurant kitchen. We laid out the banana leaves on the low Japanese-style table while a friend expertly lit up the coal on the grill. In a few minutes, the aroma of grilled marinated pork chops filled the air.
A jar of homemade atsara popped open. Atsara is a Filipino side dish, pickled unripe papaya with carrot slices, bell pepper, and ginger. Children helped themselves to hearty dishes and we spent more than an hour chatting and eating.
By 2 pm, the children changed into their swimwear and jumped into the main pool. There were many swimming pools throughout the property, some private.
We adults indulged in freshly brewed coffee. As we gazed out into the horizon, there were comfortable silences between conversations about everything and nothing. The waves grew higher and the boat swayed a little stronger.
"Rain is coming," Yohann called out.
A dark rain cloud was headed our way. We lazily took our time packing up which was a huge mistake. In a few moments, the place was drenched. We ran back towards the house which was probably two to three hundred meters away, barely covered by the umbrella. Wet as we were, we laughed like children.
When the rain stopped, we came back for the leftovers and tidied up. The kids watched an animated film in French while we continued our conversations at the dining table.
A bottle of rosé was served and the table was lit up with engaging stories.
There was far too much loss in the past few months. One of our friends lost a husband to Covid and we all lost a friend. We haven't laughed and talked as much since.
There were second rounds from the leftovers by sunset and it was apparent we all didn't want the day to end. I've never felt my jaw to be so sore and was surprised to find myself throwing in funny stories that made them laugh.
It was a rare weekend of laughter and I wish I have more of those.
Thank you for reading.
Update: Oct 20, 2021, I received information from the owners of Dolphin House that they've decided to re-open their resort guest rooms and restaurant to travelers.
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The moment when you guys ran towards shed in rain and laughed like children was so beautiful and fulfilling moment I could just imagine families having such memories. It's like a perfect day. I wish you more beautiful days like this.@discoveringarni
Thanks for sharing your experiences and the three vegan dishes sounds like mouth-watering, please come up with more of your recipe.
Hi Sahiba, good morning, there's something about rain that makes me happy. It cools down our humid weather and the plants are blessed with much-needed and effortless watering. I'll try to share vegan dishes that I have been making at home soon. Thank you and wishing you a beautiful day too.
Wow, that place looks so beautiful, would love to visit there once this pandemic ends. Yet another place to visit in Cebu
Hello @humbledwriter, yes Dolphin House Resort and the reef are serene destinations in the once-bustling diving village of Moalboal. They'll re-open once the pandemic is over. Photos #4 (reception area) #5 (gazebo) and #8 (main pool) are part of the resort but the rest however are private and off-limits to resort guests.
The sunsets in Moalboal are never the same daily and if you're craving solitude by the sea, it's a lovely place to visit. Thanks for your message and wishing you a great week.
That's great to hear! Wishing you a great week also!
Hello @mlrequena78, yes, I could spend the entire afternoon gazing out into the sea. Thanks for stopping by.
is it was trade-free barbecue?
Hi @rmsbodybuilding, I'm not sure what trade-free barbecue is but it's a potluck lunch for sure.
Thanks, @rmsbodybuilding for sharing the link. I just watched the clip and based on the definition of trade-free yes, I believe it was a trade-free barbecue. Each family brought something and shared them without expectations. One offered the venue, plate ware, tools, and cutleries, the others food and beverages. It was a collective effort with the sole intention to share.
sharing meals with friends is really a luxury today. sorry about your friend's husband , may he rest in peace.
and I wonder what's the setup for you being a part-time vegan...
Hi @junebride, yes it is, I guess that's the new normal. There were silences sometimes, and we thought about my friend's husband who was usually the initiator of such gatherings. He brought people together and he's terribly missed.
For being a part-time vegan, we eat plant-based meals at home but when invited by friends for meals prepared by them, we eat whatever is served. My friends at the barbecue were open and understanding about the plant-based thing. We had lots of choices so I stuck to the vegan dishes that weekend. But in other cases, we're prepared to be more open to avoid adding stress to the host. Thanks so much for reading.
That home looks beautiful, wow.
It's nice to have moments like these, with friends, drinks, food and laughter. Especially in times like these.
I think so too. The first time we were invited here for coffee, I was surprised by the beachfront view and the masterplan of the entire property. These beachfront homes are for long-term rental, owned by the adjacent hotel resort next door. It's quite massive the whole area of about 3 hectares surrounded by tropical gardens. The resort next door is quiet now.
Moments like these are so valuable these days. Hope you had a lovely weekend and have a great week ahead!
Nice beach front!😀 🥂
Hi Luca @luca1777, it would be nice to wake up to this view every morning. Cheers to that 🥂
Yep, Cheers to that thought!😉
In pre COVID times, these gatherings would have been just another 'get together with friends nice weekend' but now they become much more of a special occasion to appreciate and cherish, both for the young and not so young
Hello Pauline @livinguktaiwan, well said, you hit the nail right on the head.
I truly feel bad for the kids especially here in the Philippines where they're not allowed in public areas (mall, supermarket, restaurants). Fortunately, it's slightly more lenient in Moalboal, there are a few places where restaurant establishments turn a blind eye to children residents.
They have been isolated for the last 2 years so they get really excited at the mention of playdates or any activity outside the home. Same with us adults, anything to break the routine these days is special, especially such gatherings. Hope you had a wonderful weekend and may we all have more joyful occasions with loved ones.
Wot!!! Kids not allowed in public places??!! They're supposed to be more immune, at least that's the view in UK. What about school? Are they still open?
Yep, they are not even allowed to enter fast-food restaurants on the road to use the toilet. Schools are either online or homeschool -modular learning. Our local private school just opened last August after being closed for the entire 2020 school year but there are no physical face-to-face classes. My daughter is on modular learning with a private tutor at home, this way, she could concentrate better and practice reading and writing. I'm really scared for the future generation of the Philippines if it continues this way, we're going backward.
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This makes me want to visit any beach front view! unfortunately some access there are still closed. But for now, that at least do it :D
Hi Mac, yes, unfortunately, the islands are still closed so when we see our neighboring countries starting to open up to foreign travelers, we feel hopeful, that perhaps one day our shores safely welcome visitors again.
Oh those mouth watery dishes right there with a great exotica. Family, food, some great chat and a great place. This must have been a great time in that serenity.
Travel-world has completely changed after the Covid. Finally, into the good times to be around.
Hi @suzn.poudel, it was indeed a great time. The pandemic gave us an appreciation for the presence of families and friends, of time, and anything else that we may have overlooked before. I am curious to see how this shift will be like in the future, how these changes will influence us and I hope we won't forget.
Indeed. Time teaches a lesson. And, it has shown a great optimism for myself towards life and family as a whole.
I hope you the best.
@discoveringarni, Very interesting and good story. I can feel the atmosphere even though I'm not with you.
Hello @afridany1 it's really great to hear that, thanks very much 🙂
That's the paradise of weekends haha @discoveringarni
I'm sure you have disconnected and spent a perfect weekend with your family in an ideal environment.
Best regards and have a good week :)
Thanks, @garvi, rain or shine that was really nice. Wishing you a lovely one too!
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