Funny, it wasn't exactly the smooth sailing trip we had in mind. For one thing it started pouring rain, we're talking monsoon rains, up north in the area where we were planning to go during the few days before our flight. Our friends who live there had been in Manila for a month and were planning to fly up the day before us. They'd be there to help show us around since we'd never really been outside Manila. Sadly their Thursday flight was cancelled due to flooding on the Tuguegarao runway. By the next day the runway was fine and our flight went off without a hitch, leaving us to manage the new territory on our own, sort-of. The people at the NTM flight base took us under their wing and helped us out.
It was amazing to fly over the area on our way in. The place looked like a bowl of muddy soup. I thought maybe I could see where a river wound around the city, but mostly it just looked like some houses floating around in a sea of mud. As we came in closer for the landing I could see neighborhoods full of water and people wading in waist-high water.
Most of the hotels in the city were flooded and the ones that weren't flooded were completely full. Happily, there was the home of a furloughing missionary family that hadn't been flooded and we were able to stay there. Our kids enjoyed the books and toys at the house!
The next day our friends were supposed to fly in early in the morning. Their flight was delayed and they ended up arriving in the afternoon. They picked us up and we all climbed into two vans with all our stuff and set off on the hour drive up the windy mountain roads to Tabuk. We were all very happy that the contents of our childrens' stomachs stayed within them.
We arrived at a very nice hotel in Tabuk in time for a delicious supper and a little romp (for the kids) around the pool area.
We stayed at the hotel for an extra day to ensure drier roads and trails into the village. Our girls enjoyed playing with their friends and swimming in the pool at the hotel. It was relaxing. We also paid a visit to the local palengke (market) to buy some fruits and vegetables and a pair of bright blue rubber boots for me.
There had been reports of the river on the trail being too high to cross on Saturday, so we waited until early Monday morning to make the long hike into the village.