5:00am- This where the day normally starts. Well this is where the intention lies with beginning every day. I’ll be honest though, most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays I fail to drag my arse out of bed and instead allow last night’s poison to rein supreme causing a quick little swipe of the alarm and another 90 minutes of some much needed beauty sleep. On the remaining four mornings a week, provided there’s a little swell about, it’s time to get up, grab the board and head off for surf check at one the three breaks that can be paddled out to without a boat ride eating into my surfing time.
7:00am- A quick outdoor shower in the gardens of Harana and a change into some fresh threads to begin the day of a café owner, which is predominantly consumed by drinking way too much coffee, talking way too much shit with customers and spending way too much time looking as relaxed as possible.
7:10am- Dora’s (my Nuova Simonelli coffee machine) been known to take a little time to warm up in the morning (much like many previous female companions in my life), so first thing’s first, flick on her switches and give her about 20 minutes to slowly wake up while I head down to the market to pick up supplies for the day’s brewing.
7:30am- After a quick bite at the neighbour’s house (a little outdoor eatery with a selection of meat dishes, veggie dishes, fried eggs and an array of other fresh fish and tasty bites that make for the perfect breakfast and costs about 60php) it’s back to the café to start pulling the first shots of the day. It’s usually the smiley faces of the Harana guests that appear at the counter first. They’ve seen me switch Dora on 30 minutes earlier, only to then be left in the land of confusion, depression, and disappointment, otherwise known as “The Land of No Coffee”, so it’s understandable that they set upon me like wild dogs to lonesome gazelle, yelling their orders with a quiver of desperation in their voice, all insisting there’s no rush and to take my time.
8:00am- Once we’ve got through the morning rush, which on a busy day can be upwards of 15 coffees (don’t judge me Australian café owners), it’s time to sit back, relax and wait for the regulars to start flowing in for the rest of the morning. The familiar faces start rolling up on motorbikes for their morning brew, ready to share the stories about anything and everything; the wankers that were dropping in on them during their surf, discussing the book or the blog they’re currently writing, telling stories of growing up in foreign lands or filling me in on what it was that brought them to call Siargao home. Of course it’s not all one sided and I get asked to share my stories which I’m more than happy to accommodate, a mix of all the usual questions; where are you from, where have you travelled, was that you that dropped in on me yesterday, what’s it like being ginger? People come to Fili Beans for all sorts of reasons; some just come for the amazing tasting coffee, others to order the usual, have a quick five minute catch up then head up to Harana for brekky and then there’s the ones who will stay and chat for hours, yes literally hours, and the longer they stay the more I like it.
11:00am- Yep three hours ought to do it. The “Gone surfing” sign comes out and Dora’s given a little lunchtime siesta while I head off for a surf with some mates. There’s nothing like closing your business for a few hours during the day so you can get out into the saltwater and the sunshine, get a little exercise and get that feeling that only comes with sliding down the face of a perfect reef-break.
2ish or 3ish or 4ish- Back at it for the arvo crew. Forget your “café hours”, they don’t exist on the island. Patterns don’t exist here and instead the customers visit the cafe dependent on the swell, the rain, the heat or the party the night before. In the first couple of days of trading I tried to keep the café open as long as possible to get an understanding of when people were most likely to turn up and quickly realised that the best option was to work around the hours that suited me. We’ve got a pretty simple system now; if the Fili Beans Espresso sign’s out the front it means we’re open, if it’s not, we’re closed (or I came in still a little battered from last night’s party and have just forgotten to put it out). That’s the beauty of island life, people appreciate this, they understand I’m here to surf, meet people and make the most of this tropical paradise, not to sell as many coffees as possible.
5:00pm- Knock off time, unless there’s bit of crowd and I’ll stay open until people stop buying coffees. Thursday’s the exception and around this time people will start floating in for the island’s tastiest Espresso Martini (sorry Sam at Viento if you’re reading this but when you write your own blog you can make claims like this). This night all started with a couple of customers requesting the cocktail as a special send-off gift as they were leaving the island the next day. I agreed that I’d happily buy the necessary ingredients and knock out a few drinks if they invited their mates and drew a bit of crowd to make it worth my while. They agreed and I invited a couple of my mates along as well and threw a little notice up on Facebook. Who’d have thought we’d have about 50 people turn up and create a little history with Espresso Martini night running strong into its 6 week and numbers growing every week.
6:00pm- most other nights of the week it’s either a quick bite to eat with some mates on my way home to an early night in bed or home for a quick a shower then onto whichever venue is hosting the party that night. It takes a lot of self-control (which I’m still on the search for) to remind yourself in a place like this that you’re not on holiday and partying 6 nights a week is not conducive to a healthy life. It’s tricky though when after two months of living on Siargao I’m yet to encounter an evening where there’s not someone’s leaving party, arriving party, birthday party, lay day party, it’s Wednesday let’s party party. It’s for this reason that sometimes you need to slip in ninja mode and just sneak away without being noticed, head home, chill for the night and prepare to do it all again at 5:00am the next day.