I met Alex Erano from the island of Bohol through Couch Surfer. I was originally going to stay with him in Tagbilaran City but he was headed my way for a little adventure of his own. Together we put together a sort of itinerary and made a weekend out of it. The ENTIRE first day was consumed by his waiting for the 4pm ferry because the 10am ferry was literally commandeered by the Vice President of the P.I. making a big deal about a housing project in Cebu. Apparently, preparing for the election requires helicopters, ferries, army vehicles, and lots of drama. So our first day was a bit of a waste as far as Alex was concerned, because he has a limited weekend's amount of time for this short but eventful excursion.
I was just walking around trying to get my phone to work. The GSM phone I brought with me has a software problem I've been trying to fix. I'm borrowing a phone from Karen, bought a SIM card, and 'load' for it, but it still won't work. Even landlines won't work for me, only locals. I press the same exact buttons and when I do it, whatever device I'm trying to use simply does not work. So frustrating! I'm going back to living without a phone. The sim card's supposed to work for emergency numbers regardless of anything, so I guess that'll have to do.
|Serious Bamboo! - Tumalog Falls|
|Sunrise in Oslob|
Alex's ferry finally arrived, and it was obvious he was stressed and frustrated. He had worked the night shift the night before from 12-8am, then packed and left for the 10am ferry, only to be told every other hour or so they would soon be on their way. His ferry became the 4pm afternoon ferry, arriving just as the sun was setting. I say, "Bahala na amigo!" It's a saying that basically means take the shit life throws at you and slough it off. Just let it be. There's no use fighting things you can't control. Unfortunately, through Catholic influence and some warped version of cultural, generational game of "telephone", this saying also became "don't be angry at life or each other, just suck it up and deal with your tragedies; give us a smile!" I didn't mean it in that sense though. It's important to experience negative emotions deeply. I just meant, you're finally through, time for the fun to begin. He took my meaning finally started to relax and focus on the now as we talked. Both of use started the trip tired, but it didn't really hit us until the weekend was over. For now, though, we were both excited to get on the road. Rather than crash at the ferry terminal, we decided to hop on a bus south to Oslob so we could get the jump on whale watching as it ran from 6am-1pm.
We stopped at one company and talked prices (thank goodness Alex speaks Cebuano). And hearing that just to set up tents on the property would cost us 200 pesos, a basic room 800, we decided to try our luck looking for a spot in the forest. We walked along the road and decided to try one more company. They let us crash on the most spongy, full, grass lawn I've ever laid on for the night, for free. Needless to say we went out on the water with them in the morning. The price is double for foreigners, and Alex wanted me to feel less discriminated (lol) so he paid extra so we would pay the same fare. Sweet no? We took turns covering fares for the rest of the trip, and with my memory for numbers I calculated it came out pretty darn even. Awesome. One more odd thing about Alex that became immediately apparent. Food. Since he was born he's had a mental allergy to fruits. All fruits. Doesn't eat hardly any vegetables. His travel food was white bread with some packaged, processed, liquid corned beef stuff. Yum. I had brought some dinner leftovers, nuts, dried peas, and an avocado. That ended up lasting me the whole trip. Timing to build a fire and cook, taking up an hour for food, just didn't seem right given Alex's "What's next?" energy. Not a problem for three days. I survived.
Set up tents (ants were prolific in the grass, otherwise I would have just laid down to sleep), ate food crashed hard just after sunset, and woke up in time for sunrise. Paid 750 pesos each to swim in the water with whale sharks that are baited. I knew that they were baited, and I felt bad, but I caved. Just too amazing to go swimming with whale sharks. What was it like? They're HUGE of course. They take us 100m out from shore to a viewing area using small paddle boats. I counted five different sharks. We were in the water almost an hour with them, trying to remember how to snorkle (hadn't done it except 5 years before, gimme a break : ). They give you an orienation before you go in about how far you should stay away, don't touch, no flash, protect them! Then they bait them with minimal plankton and fish guts, never giving them a break from 6am to 1pm every day to find and eat an actual meal for themselves. It takes some serious amounts of plankton to build these massive creatures. Anyway, the sharks of course, don't follow rules. At one point I was watching one when my ear pops above the water and I hear a half-hearted shriek. I turn around, and by far the biggest of the five sharks is slowly barrelling towards me an arm's reach away. Instinctively, I put my hand out to its nose to let it know I was there (duh, it knows I'm there). People above water say, "Don't touch!" The shark slowly angles around me knocking me with its left fin and then its tail fin. Something similar happened a couple more times. It was absolutely fantastic. Didn't know before I came here that the Philippines is one of the only places in the world where whale sharks consistently find and stay in a bioregion with good habitat for them.
|We walked from sea level up to here, the view from the top|
|Approaching Tumalog Falls|
The falls themselves were the most serene and beautiful falls I've ever seen. It's hard to describe or take a photograph that could do it justice. There were so many terraces and so high up. The water flowed down from different spots pretty evenly about 30' long, about 100' high. It was like two-dimensional healing rain. It was water so the terraces were mineral deposits. We filled our water bottles using my filter, and the water tasted so much better than the sparkletts-style filtered water down in the city. We sat and had lunch washed down with a can of red horse. Two different kinds of lizards skipped or swam across the pond at the base of the falls. Of course, one kid used his sandal to terrify and catch one against Alex and my vehement protests. Must have more of those lizards somewhere else cause the kid was so intent on catching that sucker.
|Coming back down the hill|
|Tiki pots on the way to Kawasan|
|Kawasan Falls, the lowest in the complex|
Anyways, from there, we hike back to the road and get on a bus up to Moalboal to the famous White Sand Beach there. We took a motor out to the beach. There were three of us on that tiny scooter, including me and my pack. For 8 bumpy kilometers I struggled to stay on that thing using every last once of strength my core muscles would give me. I was so sore the next day. We camped out on the beach, drank a jumbo Red Horse, and marveled at all of the amazing things we did that day as we watched the moon move creep across the sky. I woke up during the night to realize that I had misread the moon; the tide was moving in, not out. So we moved our tents up into the resort-ish areas, hoping we wouldn't be arrested for tresspassing in the morning. The water never made it up to where our tents were but it was close.
In the morning we swam lazily along the coral reef just along the beach. Alex saw a seahorse! I missed out on that one. Saw some amazingly beautiful coral and fish though. He was too scared to go out there, but the reef dropped sharply at the far edge into dark blue water, a complete contrast to the bright teal from the reef. The beach is white sand because it's entirely ground shells. We walked along the beach for a bit and then decided to make our way back to the road to head back to Cebu.
|Dancin' with the Porno Faggots|
|Standing on said bridge|
|Power plant on the way to Kawasan Falls|
|Front view of the power plant|
|Where's the David???|
LIFE IS TOO DAMNED SHORT! TOO MUCH TO DO! Some days it's harder to accept that I'll never get to do everything I want to in life. Hence the song I wrote. I feel I really have embraced this fact. Till next time! Please send me messages! Even if I don't know you yet!