We are a simple family. When we travel, we avoid staying at expensive hotels or resorts. We prefer to stay with family, friends, or at AirBnb places. Our two-week stay in Dumaguete in January 2016 was no different. There are many choices for staying in Dumaguete. One can stay in the city itself, in one of its many hotels, BnBs, and hostels. Most of the AirBnb places are not in the city center though and we think that’s well and good. After hours of looking on AirBnb and actually driving around on our rented motorbike, we found a small farmhouse in a town outside of the city, and it was the perfect place to stay for the New Year and the days after. We played many games of Dobble, Fabio’s Christmas present for Lia, and watched movies. On New Year’s Eve, all three of us laid on the hammock, covered with a warm blanket, and watched and counted shooting stars in the night sky – the distant sounds of firecrackers, and fireworks a faint glint in the far horizon.
Lia’s last Christmas in the Philippines was in 2015 and she spent it with her biological father and his family, as she did the past Christmases. We had spent some time together before Christmas though, seeing and being with my friends. We own a flat in the Taguig area and we hang out in the many establishments found in Bonifacio Global City (BGC). We stumbled upon this lights show in the roof deck of the SM Aura mall and Lia and I had some fun.
Our first stop was Last Frontier Beach Resort, located in Corong-Corong beach and owned by a friend of ours, and had just been recently completed. It took quite a while and a lot of efforts and stress for our friends to finish the resort and the least we can do is be supportive. We stayed for the sunset – always a not to be missed event.
We had Christmas dinner at Republica Sunset Bar in Lugadia. The day after Christmas, we dropped by El Nido Art Cafe, and Mezzanine Restaurant – making a round of businesses in Serena St. that our friends owned.
I met Loja for the second time only the day after. He didn’t have so much time. He got up every now and then to talk to my daughter in her bedroom. He stood outside her bedroom, leaning against the door, asking what she is doing, and making a comment on how organized her room is. Loja, a father himself to two boys, was great with kids. My daughter said she liked him because he was funny. And he spoke English. That was always a plus to her.
He was leaving Torino to bring his kids back to Barcelona after spending the Christmas with their grandparents. He would not be able to make it to our wedding. We all came down the stairs together, and he helped us load our things into the car. And for the last time, he hugged me, and kissed me, and said, “It was so nice to finally meet you. And congratulations.” I said thank you In Italian and got into the car. I watched him walk away, and down the street. In a black coat and a black bonnet, his silhouette barely visible in the dusk.
Today I start the new year as a new wife. Having been married before, never did I imagine myself getting married again. In fact, I didn’t want to. I balked and bailed. I took two steps forward and one step back. I started and stopped a million times. I have commitment phobia. Maybe I even have abandonment syndrome. Maybe I have a gazillion of other undiagnosed mental disorders. Maybe I just didn’t want to be married, committed, and my sense of freedom and independence bound. Or maybe I did not want to make the same mistakes or fail again. But Lia, the light in our lives, the center of our big universe, the cord that ties all of us together, is the reason why we are here.
As a mother, I know enough not to judge anybody else’s parenting or mothering skills or approach. I always say that we can only parent the way we know how, and in the way we know best. No one can teach you to become a good mother or parent. We all just do the best we can. And this is a story of how I did it, at least in all the past seven years. Last year, I embarked on this two-month journey on my own to find myself and thankfully, I did. I came home with the realisation that I must prepare my daughter for a life without me and I came home with a journal. In this journal, I write letters to her when I can, for her to read in the future when she is much older and hopefully, much wiser. Let me share with you what I wrote on the very first page…
Capo Caccia is situated a few kilometres from Alghero, on the southern point of a huge limestone triangle that wedges out into the sea. There are characteristic, impressive cliffs (nearly 300 m high) on its west side. It is renowned for the underground labyrinth of mysterious caves discovered in 1700. The most famous one is Grotta di Nettuno (2500 m long) that can be reached by sea or on ground climbing the 656 steps of Escala del Cabirol that lead to the cave. Although we did not venture to these caves or the grotto because of Lia, the view itself was enough for us. And I guess for others too.
“The Basilica della Santissima Trinità di Saccargia (English: “Basilica of the Holy Trinity of Saccargia”) is a church constructed entirely in local stone (black basalt and white limestone), with a typical appearance of Tuscan Romanesque style.”
It may seem absurd, but yes, we tropical people only know rain and sun…. and typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, among other things, of course. So here we were, in Jafferau, with the remnants of winter…
So off to France we went, even if it was just Briançon, because it is an hour’s drive from Bardonecchia. We passed by skiing resorts and towns with die-hard skiers still racing after the very last remnants of winter snow. Briançon a commune in the Hautes-Alpes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France. It is the highest city in France with an altitude of 1,326 metres (4,350 feet).
The family arrived in Italy on April 6th and spent some days in Torino before going for a 1-hour drive to Bardonecchia – one of Italy’s original alpine skiing resorts. Bardonecchia is located in the upper part of Val di Susa in the Alps, with the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The resort is situated on the French border, due west of Torino (Turin).
I said I would come back and take more photos of Cala Brandinchi – and this it. This was that day. Cala Brandinchi is about 10-15 minutes walk for Lia and me from our home in Villaggio Porto Coda Cavallo. It is where we go when we don’t want to be in Salina Bamba or when I wanted to have a nice cup of frozen coffee at the bar.
We take the dirt path from the village. This is the view of our village.
And this is Tavolara Island, at the back of our village.
Sometimes Isola Tavolara looks so white!
With the village behind us, we trudge on the path to Brandinchi, and the first view is the parking lot right in front, and the beach on the left.
Lia almost always does not want her photos taken – unless it is of her making bubbles – then she is all up for it! Here are some photos I took of her blowing home made bubbles in the garden using a Nikkor 50mm lens.
“The numerous beaches in San Teodoro, which are all just a few minutes away from the centre of town, are among the most beautiful in Sardinia and are famous all over the world for their white sands and the incomparable transparency of the sea. The nearest beaches to the centre of town are slightly more than 1 km away; while the remaining beaches – all between 8 to 15km from the centre of town – can be reached using the 125 highway towards Olbia. Along the road, on the right, are three main junctions. The first, in the town of Lu Fraili, allows you to reach the beaches of Punta di L’Aldia (9.8 km) and Lu Impostu (8.7 km). The second junction, in Lutturai, leads towards the resort of Coda Cavallo.”
“… the tourist village of Puntaldia which has a marina and a golf course with 9 holes, as well as hotel accommodations and residences of high quality. The name means the tip of the guard, from its obvious strategic and military significance. The coastline of the Punta Aldia, interspersed with a brilliant Mediterranean, is contiguous with the beach to the north and south with the Lu Impostu, La Cinta beach, from which it is separated from the small mouth of the great lagoon of San Teodoro, called “the seal”. Just along the south side, through the beaten track between the rock formations, you can move from one cove to another.” – San Teodoro Tourism Office
Frankly, our excursions to Punta di L’Aldia is limited to refueling the speed boat. 🙂 We leave Salina Bamba with the boat and head on to Punta di L’Aldia.
CAPO CODA CAVALLO
“Get there by driving north up highway 125 towards San Teodoro – Olbia, then turn right at the fork in the road at Lutturai. Skillfully carved by the Ostro and the Scirocco, this extreme offshoot of land stretches towards the Tyrrhenian Sea and overlooks the islands of Proratora, Molara and Tavolara. The beach of Capo Coda Cavallo as well as the beautiful scenery offered by the profile of the islands, boasts clear water and fine sand immersed in Mediterranean bushes. A few minutes’ walk leads to the vantage point overlooking the whole expanse of water bordered by the Protected Marine Area of Tavolara – Punta Coda Cavallo. That same vantage point is home to well-preserved military structures dating back to World War II, strategically important for the sighting of the Allied air forces using equipment such as the famous aerophone (a rudimentary radar-based amplification of the sounds produced by aircraft engines).” – San Teodoro Tourism Office
These are some photos I took from inside the car as we were driving from Olbia.
“The numerous beaches in San Teodoro, which are all just a few minutes away from the centre of town, are among the most beautiful in Sardinia and are famous all over the world for their white sands and incomparable transparency of the sea. The nearest beaches to the centre of town (slightly more than 1 km away) are La Cinta and Cala d’Ambra. The remaining beaches can be reached using the 125 highway towards Olbia. Along the road, on the right, are three main junctions. The first, in the town of Lu Fraili, allows you to reach the beaches of Punta di L’Aldia (9.8 km) and Lu Impostu (8.7 km). The second junction, in Lutturai, leads towards the resort of Coda Cavallo. Along this road are the beaches of Cala Brandinchi (9.8 km), Salina Bamba (11.5 km) and Baia Salinedda (12.2 km).” – San Teodoro map of the beaches and the area, distributed by the San Teodoro Tourism Office
“A true jewel of our coast, Brandinchi can be compared with the paradises of Polynesia by the intensity and brilliance of its nuances and it is also known to tourists as Little Tahiti. It boasts shallow water, fine sand next to a pine forest and a large patch of juniper, thistle and rushes. Definitely meant for families with children, behind the beach adjacent to the beautiful pine forest there’s a parking lot organized in a perfect corner of nature. The beach of Brandinchi has as a spectacular skyline view that is the unmistakable silhouette of the island of Tavolara to the north, an islet called Ruja Island to the east and the Capicciolu Point to the south. At its back, and this is true for many other nearby beaches, there is a lagoon area that during the summer season is dry.” – Source