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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

Aboard the Lady of Good Voyage

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | February 11th, 2008 | Comments No Comments

The weekly ferry from Puerto Princesa to Coron is much bigger than I expected. And safer. I was patted down twice, an eager dog declared my bags acceptable, and I passed through an airport-style X-ray and several ticket inspections.

I chose the cheapest ticket – 834 pesos ($22, about $80 cheaper than the biweekly flight) – non-air conditioned, non-food – and was met with surprise by the cheery Super Ferry man who shuttled me aboard and assumed I’d be in the air-conditioned orange section.
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Instead, I’m up on the top red deck, lying on the top bunk in open-sided, airy quarters. It’s a pleasant, overcast day and the seabreeze is gentle. Downstairs, in the more expensive air-con section, people lie cramped in their windowless bunks. Cheap prevails!

But, then, a familiar, annoying sound breaks through the TV showing cartoons and the loudspeakers playing soft rock.

Roosters.

Roosters! Who ferries roosters? And where are they in the evacuation pecking order? Women and roosters first?
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John Martinez ferries roosters. Three of them. He’s on leave from the Navy and heading back to his province outside Coron, bearing breeding roosters he hopes will bear even more roosters. The birds are in marked boxes with air holes; their feathers crest through the cardboard cracks. Box after crowing box tantalizingly line the boat’s railing. I fantasize about fowl play.

There’s a restaurant downstairs that serves fairly unappealing beef in gravy over rice, hot bowls of boxed soup and dumplings the size of baseballs. And there’s a cell phone charging station on each deck. More text messages are sent in the Philippines than anywhere else in the world, I’m told repeatedly. Even my Super Ferry reservation was conveyed via text message from the Super Ferry office clerk to some unseen centralized operator. Filipinos are aghast that I’m traveling without a cell phone, textless and alone.

I spend an uneventful day sleeping, reading and writing…and wondering where the roosters roost in Coron.

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Category: , Philippines
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