We departed the protected cove of our resort on Miniloc Island, each paddling our own kayaks. As we made our way out of the cove, we caught a glimpse of “Hiwa”, the resident three-flippered Hawksbill Sea Turtle.
Making quick time, we rounded two massive limestone cliffsides jutting out over the Philippine Sea to find throngs of tourists all hoping to catch a glimpse of the “Big Lagoon” on Miniloc. As the tides were quite low, most people were walking into the lagoon through the knee-high, crystal clear waters. Continuing forward we were greeted by an empty lagoon; the absence of boats and people milling about brought forward the sounds of the rainforest – teeming with birds and a rather mysterious jostling of tree branches. Just as Tarin started to say how badly she wanted to see the indigenous Long-Tailed Macaque monkey, I spotted one fishing at the edge of a limestone rock not more than a stones throw. We slowed our kayaks to get a better view when we realized that the tree branches moving about were Mr. Macaque’s buddies, munching on ripe fruits aplenty. The longer we observed, the greater the number we saw. Mom’s carrying their little ones, adolescents playing with one another and a watchful male (I am sure you can imagine how we decided we was a male) keeping eyes on us at all times. We estimated that this group was 20 strong. They never appeared too concerned about us floating along, all the while ooing and ahhing at a sight we had never witnessed.
We kept our distance so as not to disrupt their afternoon foraging but not without shooting some video. No recorded media can do this experience justice but we hope some of the serenity and beauty of this place is palpable.
We have had the pleasure of visiting the Philippines for the last 10 days and we couldn’t be any happier that we came to this island paradise. We started our journey by visiting the Island of Cebu and spent most of our time in my colleague’s home town of Carmen. It seems as though the island never sleeps, there is constant chaos on the road and its difficult to imagine making a life here.To drive though shanty towns next to massive shopping malls was rather disheartening. It was difficult for us to realize and grasp the third world reality.
We thoroughly enjoyed our ‘family’ time in Carmen and couldn’t believe how many people came through to meet Rizza’s friends (us!). The home cooked Filipino food is to die for! We both agree it has been the best meal we have had the whole time while in the Philippines. Our last day with the family was spent driving 4 hours (in each direction), starting at 3 am to head south for swimming with whale sharks. Yes, you read that correctly, one of the oldest known and largest fish species on planey earth. I was, of course, nervous about the whole thing but they really are peaceful creatures who are not concerned with anything but the food coming from the boats. Our GoPro wasn’t working properly, so if you want to know what it’s like, YouTube “Whale Shark Swimming in Oslob, Cebu”. It was incredible. They were massive and made us realize how small and insignificant we humans are.
Our next island destination was our first ‘honeymoon’ spot – Miniloc Island. Imagine those images of thatch-roofed water cottages against limestone rocks with the jungle draping over, this is where we were for seven nights. It was only supposed to be five nights, but when a natural disaster occurs (Typhoon Kuppo) and the Coast Guard won’t allow boats to make mainland transfers you learn to accept paradise for an additional 2 full days and nights. Can you really be bummed? The weather wasn’t superb here, but the heat and humidity has been without fail. So, to ‘lay out’ in the sun didn’t need to occur in order to sweat and constantly feel the need to be in the water snorkeling the reef right off the dock. We certainly chose the right day for our island hop and picnic lunch on another island – since that day, all boats have been docked due to high surf.
We have had the chance to kayak, snorkel and play plenty of cards and dice enjoying our sea-view room. For the record, T kicked Nick’s butt in all but one hand of cards! There were plenty of naps on the white sand beaches and ample opportunity to drink the bar out of their local beers as it poured rain. We can look back and say we survived a Typhoon, in the classiest manner! We have been treated so well here, and have enjoyed our ‘honeymoon resort’ part of this trip, probably too much! Thankfully, we keep pinching each other and realizing how spoiled we treated ourselves.
Due to our extension, we did have to shorten our time in Moshi, Tanzania; and we are still hopeful that we will get off the Island and head out of Manila to catch our Safari on time. We will be meandering about the Serengeti during Nick’s 30th Birthday (Oct. 27th, for those who don’t know), so please send him lots of love for the dirty thirty! We will get that once we return to wi-fi, which may not be until we leave Africa.