Ohh, the beach life

Trip Start Oct 19, 2006
Trip End Apr 05, 2007

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Flag of Philippines  ,
Monday, January 15, 2007

We spent a week in Port Barton, on  a bay of the South China Sea, lazing about in a sea-front cottage and living the most peachy beachy life. It was hard for me to see the seashore without saying out loud how beautiful it was - clear water, soft sand, mangrove trees on the edges of the circle of the bay. It was beautiful at night, too, so dark and so many bright stars. We had such a clear view of the Milky Way. The electricity only comes on in Port Barton from 5.30pm to midnight or so, just in time for the fan to come on and help dry us off after evening showers to wash the sand off from a day of playing in the sand and salt water.

We spent a day snorkelling and "island-hopping" after a lot of avoiding the sales talk of so many boatmen. Unfortunately the day we went was the one really cloudy and rainy day, but it was sunny enough for some wonderful snorkelling on the coral reefs in the bay and around the small islands there - Exotica Island and Paradise Island. Despite the stinging of something small and invisible at the first boat stop, we got back in and were amazed, as I always am when I snorkel, at the world beneath the water. Christopher said, once you know it's there, it makes the surface of the ocean look so boring.
We also hiked up to a waterfall where we met a bunch of young Filipino folks who shared their buko (coconut) juice with us - we're still not sure why it had crackers in it. They were so excited when Christopher was brave enough to swim in the pool, and climb up the rocks by the fall to jump in. We had heard rumors of leeches and bad mosquitoes in the jungle there, but didn't see either one. As we were leaving, there were several group photos, and they invited us to watch them play basketball that evening. Basketball is big in the Philippines, and we were amazed to see all the guys wearing jerseys and real shoes - first time we've seen people who weren't wearing flip flops in such a long time. The ref, though, was in his yellow plastic flip-flops, shuffle-running up and down the court.
Port Barton is a small town - we ate in all the restaurants more than once, and one of our favorites was at the only place in the Philippines we've found that has brown bread! We ate breakfast there three days in a row, grateful for a break from the gross white bread that seems to be everywhere. Christopher usually opted instead for the "Filipino breakfast" - fried eggs, rice, and fried fish or fried pork. Too much for me for breakfast, but sometimes when my own choice meant sliced hot dog bun with my eggs, I was envious of his meal.
The change in tide was so drastic that at low tide the beach was maybe 20 feet wide, and when the tide came in - after dinner mostly, while we were there - only a few feet of sand were left between the gates of hotels along the beach and the waves. The cottages that we were staying in were on a very steep stretch of the beach, and the tide going out in the morning while we were waking up made waves that crashed so loudly that they often woke us up, worried that our cottage was about to be carried away. We had a nice porch where we sat in the evenings, mosquite-coil burning and orange cat meowing, watching the sun go down into the palm trees. Our walks along the beach everyday were fun explorations of all the different kinds of shells, coral pieces, mollusks, tiny crabs, and coconuts along the beach.
We had thought that we'd go from Palawan over to Panay Island where there is a big festival, Ati Atihan, on January 21st. Before we left for Port Barton we did a lot of travel planning and flight price-checking and decided that we'd rather just stay and see things on Palawan, skip the anxiety of getting somewhere to see something in favor of appreciating where we are for a few more days. I was feeling quite travel weary as we discussed plans, here at the three-month mark. I think that having the extended time at the beach was good for our travel energy - we started to talk about plans for the next part of the trip, and for what to do when we get back to the States. Reaching the halfway mark means that it feels like we should start counting down, that there's a different kind of pressure about how many things we can see before we have to come home. Thinking about getting home is a totally different, and rather overwhelming, kind of pressure. Every time I think that I should just go home now and start the job-search/apartment-search/real world again, I remember that it's winter in the "real world" and that I might as well just think about it from here in the heat and prepare myself for going back ... eventually.
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