Misadventure Moments: The Quest for Rafael's

5:25 AM

(original post from my personal blog)

I spent a week alone in Leyte last year for academic work. Sunday was my free day there so I decided I must embark on my own adventure to find a good place to take pictures and if possible, eat. It was a rainy morning so I figured I'll just eat at Robinson's Tacloban once again and probably because Jose Karlo's Coffee shop had wifi and my decent dose of caffeine. I didnt do any research before leaving. Note to self: list places to visit before riding the plane to my destination. It helps.

So I've managed to get to Rob Tacloban in a matter of minutes and ordered spag, chicken and mojos. I had the mojos to go in case I get stranded somewhere and no food was available. It was a smart move.

There I was in the coffee shop surfing the net when I read about Rafael's Farm and Restaurant. Anton of OUP described it as a cross between Sonya's Garden and the Farm. Since I havent been to Sonya's Garden or the Farm, I figured I might as well visit Rafael's. The adventure begins.

The problem with not knowing how to speak Waray in Leyte is the great chance of being LOST. I asked the travel agency for directions but they knew nothing. Thus I resulted to calling Rafael's itself and asking for directions. It was simple: ride a jeep until the old terminal, then ride another jeep going to Babatngon. Operator said it will take less than 30mins from the old terminal to the resto. Since it was only a little past 2pm, I decided to give it a shot. I already disregarded the thought of taking a taxi since taxis tend to be overpriced especially for tourists. I bought a map at National Bookstore just to see how far I would be traveling. Turns out it was around 30kms. Still, I was determined to visit it.

One thing I should have learned throughout my living years is that my world is a disciple of Murphy's law. It took me around 4-5 jeepney rides that went in circles from Mcdonalds to the new terminal. I asked the barker for the jeep that will take me to the old terminal and he said I should go down to Mcdo. Being an obedient little girl, I did what I was told but never did it enter my mind that that was not the old terminal. I asked for a jeep going to Babatngon and I was asked to ride a specific jeep. All these while asking for directions in my sole known dialect: Tagalog. I cant remember how many times I've passed by the same route before actually finding the so-called "old terminal". It was already around 4pm. This was bad. Night starts so much earlier in the provinces (as early as 5pm). So I was waiting in the van not knowing that was the last trip.

I got to Rafael's safe and sound thanks to the kind strangers who willingly helped a seemingly innocent yet LOST girl. I quickly entered and took pictures as the sun was already setting. Yes, it was 5pm and I have just reached my destination. A couple of photographs then the sun was gone. Since it would be a long way home, I decided to eat. Great decision. The food was wonderful. However, the waitress remarked on my solo adventure. They were not used to having just a single person eat there. The place was obviously for families and couples.

Should have gone past noon to enjoy the whole place

After eating heartily, the place went black. Power was down. The waiter was kind enough to escort me and the walk from the restaurant to the wooden gates introduced me to the impending horror: no jeepneys going back to Tacloban City pass by after 5pm. It was past 6pm and there I was sitting beside the guard house hoping to catch a ride.

Tick tock. The minutes passed without a single soul passing by. So what do you do when you're stuck in the middle of nowhere not knowing how to get home? You pray. Oh, and text people. After an hour of waiting I decided to go back to the restaurant to use the washroom. The crew, realizing I have not gone home, offered to let me hitch in their service at 8pm. Obviously, I had no choice. So I settled myself back in the restaurant while chatting with some of the very friendly crew. They were still shocked upon knowing I was really on my own and had traveled two municipalities away just to visit Rafael's.

It was eight pm and everyone was packing. They told me not to be surprised about their service. It turned out to be a big truck. My simple wish of riding a truck came true that night. The truck was moving more than a 100kph. Not a single vehicle was in sight. After less than 30mins I was back in Mcdo, ready to take a familiar jeep ride going home. Before 9:30pm I was safely lying in my bed, thinking about the whole trip.

If I had taken a taxi, it would have cost me and I would have been at Rafael's before 4pm. However, I wouldnt have had the chance to ride the truck, know about the night schedule of the town, and be familiar with the downtown of Tacloban City. It would have been a boring trip to Rafael's, an hour of taking pictures, and a couple of minutes of eating before heading home. But then again, a little more knowledge would have helped.

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