Our bodies are here already in Baguio, but our hearts and minds are still somewhere on the gray sand of San Juan, La Union.
As her 32nd birthday approached, my eldest child Kimi suggested we spend the Independence Day weekend at the beach. Who were we to say no? She was picking up the tab, another reminder that she was more than a full-fledged adult already.
For our soundtrack going down Naguilian Road to La Union (or ElYu in hipster language), we had the voices of the Four Seasons from the musical Jersey Boys.
After repeated queries of "Are we there yet?" from the most junior in the group, we found our home for a night and two days--Villas Buenavista. It looked like a white castle from a distance because it's almost entirely made of marble. Of the weekend crowd, we were among the first to arrive with famished appetites. We had the restaurant to ourselves as we ate soothing sinigang na malaga and pinakbet with warm rice.
But Kimi told us ElYu is also a foodie's paradise so we shouldn't be eating resort food at all times. There were restaurants and hole-in-the-wall eateries to explore just a few kilometers down the highway, with Waze ensuring we didn't get lost.
Kimi recommended we either go Mexican or Greek for our early supper. She and Kai had tried the Mexican in a past visit so Greek it was, together with waitresses dressed like acolytes of Aphrodite. We liked the view from where we sat. It looked out to the beach where groups of youngsters were throwing frisbees or volleyballs. Out in the sea, others swam or paddled with surfboards although there were no surfing-worthy waves.
Next morning was playtime by the seashore for Kimi and Kai--they came equipped with bucket and shovels. The day before, Kai dug up a shell which she adopted as a pet and named Shelton.
Before noon we had checked out and decided on trying out the Independence Day turo-turo at Flotsam and Jetsam, another open-air resto by the beach. I loved it for its bohemian ambience--the hanging dream catchers, the parasols and lamps, the banana leaves topping the plates, the young girls and guys who stumble in from the beach for early beers or rum and Coke, etc.
Kimi recalled how in her college days she and friends would take the bus to San Juan. There weren't these many food places and bed and breakfast places. Sometimes they would just camp out on the beach. I'm happy I discovered San Juan and the ElYu vibe at this point in time.
Photos by Kimi and Rolly Fernandez