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October 07, 2006

Friendly Philippines

Apologies to the potentially confused reader-- this is another story that I am posting a couple months late...

After touring lake Taal, we had about one and a half more days that were to be spent seeing something ocean-related.

But we were travelling, and of course things didn't go as planned. Between slower transportation than expected, excessive entertainment to be had using a variety of different means of transportation (but not requiring the excessive Trust In God displayed in this picture), construction sites, and ferry schedules that give plenty of opportunity to be flexible, we didn't make it to a tropical island resort.

We did end up on a random beach somewhere between Puerto Galera and Calapan, a wise choice mostly inspired by Liz's bladder.

There was a little community here, and people were sitting in the shade, enjoying the view. There were also some paddle catamarans here... and the coastline looked very pretty. And we were there...

After a very short negotiation, and plenty of advice and concern, we were handed a couple of paddles, and a plastic container (for bailing, of course), and we set off, headed straight to the point to the east of the little bay.

The boat was somewhat sluggish and hard to turn as expected, but once we had momentum it was quite efficient. certainly more stable than the panamanian Cayucos, and much easier to snorkel out of.

The water was quite clear (50ft visibility or so), so we could clearly see that all the coral was dead. But it was still nice, the coastline was pretty, we passed a rather strange structure supposedly owned by a german artist, and then landed on a beach in a little fishing community of a handful of houses.

People there were very friendly -- they welcomed us with curiosity and a smile, always a good combination. Soon we had some young coconuts in our hands. Very large ones -- not a variety i had seen before. I discovered that chicken anywhere on the planet love coconut -- I have an almost identical picture, taken in Panama.

The families here supported themselves by fishing -- there were quite a few boats, and later in the afternoon, some of them headed out to (I think) pick up their nets.

After snorkeling for a little while (some live coral, quite nice), we paddled back... And then found out that there were no more boats heading back to Luzon from Puerto Galera. As we were walking towards the road to catch a vehicle back to Calapan, we walked by the Oceano dive resort. I walked in and asked there about the schedule, just to be sure.  As it turned out, another ferry was leaving Puerto Galera at 5.30pm, which worked out perfectly -- we were hoping for a nice dinner in Manila, before restaurants closed. That did not happen, but turned out to be completely unnecesary anyway: On the boat, we met a very nice and interesting young couple who gave a perfect demonstration of filipino hospitality by inviting us to have dinner at their house with them, after giving us a ride in their car, all the way to Manila! As it turned out, they owned the resort where we had asked for directions. Small world!

I'll choose a day like this any time over hanging out at a resort all day... we experienced more local culture in one day than many in a whole vacation, saw real life in a real place, and even made some wonderful new friends.


Posted by rick at October 7, 2006 11:24 AM