|View from the cave floor through a hole 60' above|
In the morning, I met with the Bulabog Puti-an National Park Superintendent, a very humble man you'd never guess was in the face of loggers and miners and all sorts of people with interests more important than environmental protection. He showed me where I could cook food enough to last through the long next day's long boat ride. For a very small guide fee, he took me around the area for half a day. We visited tons of caves along easy trails. We hit it off immediately. He's a jovial, warm, interesting character with a love for nature and good enough English to delve into some deeper topics. We joked back and forth all the way through. In the beginning, we saw several large spiders similar to the black and yellow one I saw at the Twin Lakes, but a little bit smaller and with smaller webs than the behemoth that stopped me in my tracks. We also passed several trees more than 100 years old, with roots that emanated out from the tree like the Northern Lights in swirls and waves high above the ground.
|These small red tarantulas were tricky to see because they sense the vibration of our steps so well|
|My hand was just in front of the snake from this angle|
We visited a few other caves that were hardly as exciting but still different than the bat cave. Then we took the long way through the forest back around to the main office. We passed under chico fruit trees, unripe bananas and papayas and coconut palms. Then we passed under a pomelo tree full of ripe pomelos. A pomelo is a fruit that has the texture of a grapefruit with a flavor halfway between grapefruit and apple. It has the skin of a grapefruit, but add at least an inch thick of the white pulp between the rind and the fruit itself, and you have a pomelo. We threw rocks at the fruits high up in the tree and dislodged 6 of them. When we stopped later to eat one each, we had just passed through as section of palm trees that dropped these fruits that are hard, baseball-sized, inedible fruits. As they fall from the tall tops of the trees, you hear a pit-patter as it hits leaves going faster and faster as it falls, and then a resounding pop that sounds almost like gunfire or firecrackers when it hits the soil or limestone rocks of the forest floor. They drop every minute or two and are surprisingly startling. It was a thrill just sitting there munching on a juicy pomelo and wondering if you'd be the next victim of one of the fruits.
Once we'd reached the Visitor's Center, I packed up my things, bid farewell to my guide, his caretaker, and the puppy that was devastated I had to leave, and headed back to the main road. A short tricycle ride later, I was in Dingle. I jumped on a jeep to the bus depot 15km up the highway, which turned out to be simply standing at a random place in the road with ten other people.