|I'm travelling fast again (moving every 3 days) so I've fallen behind on the journal by almost a week!
At noon last Friday, Randy and I took a taxi from his apartment to the airport for our short flight to Boracay (Caticlan airport). At least it was supposed to be a short flight...
Boracay is a small island in the Visayas group that harbours one of the most popular beaches in the Philippines: fine white sand and turquoise water. The beach is long (4 kms) and wide, which is a good thing since it must accommodate a long line-up of restaurants, hotels and bars that cater to a mixture of local and foreign tourists. It's pricey and sleek... and sometimes a little too crowded.
But back to the flight. We were flying on a discount airline that none of us had used before: AirPhil Express. At the check-in counter, the clerk tells us casually that all flights to Caticlan are cancelled. What??! Then he checks again and says, ha ok, ours is not cancelled but it's delayed by two hours. Once in the departure lounge it became clear that nobody really knew what was going on, except that the plane hadn't arrived and was still back in Caticlan. Apparently flight congestion at Manila airport causes delays on a regular basis. In the end, our flight left 3 hours late. The catch was that Caticlan airport has a short landing strip and doesn't accept flights after 5:00 pm. Since we were now going to land around 6:30 pm, our flight was diverted to the Kalibo airport, two hours by road from our original destination! Mini-van transport was provided to the Caticlan ferry port, from where we had to take a 10-minute ferry (really a long wobbly wooden boat) to Boracay. By the time we arrived to our hotel it was 9:00 pm. We were tired, hot and hungry.
Actually it was not a hotel, it was an overpriced backpacker hostel. We had our own room with bathroom and A/C (a bamboo bungalow with a concrete floor and a porch) which cost around $70/night. Backpackers lounged around all day smoking and drinking like in any typical backpacker hostel. We didn't hang out with them. The staff was amazingly friendly and congenial though, so I guess the place deserved to be called "Frendz".
We had two full days on the island. On Saturday morning I was finally able to see the beach in the daylight and the water was turqoise all right, and very inviting. I ran into the water as soon as we were installed onto our beach chairs! Beautiful! It was actually worth the trouble of getting here. I'm very picky about swimming beaches, but this one was perfect: white sand (without hard coral bits) gently sloping into cool (but not cold) turquoise water with almost no surf. Perfect. I didn't want to come out of the water but was worried about sunburn. Later in the afternoon (but not late enough), we started walking along the beach in a northerly direction, hoping to reach what the book described as a quieter stretch of beach. Quickly the shade of the palm trees disappeared and the sun was relentless. After a kilometer or so I had to stop for a drink (and a bite to eat) as I felt I would get sunstroke if I continued. I was melting into a puddle. After another kilometer and a concrete path around a headland, we found Diniwig beach and took advantage of the 2 for 1 at a bar. The walk back, as the sun was setting, was a lot more pleasant. That night we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant but it was only ok. The giant mango margarita was a sight to behold though.
On Sunday, I woke up a little worried because I realized the money I got in Manila wouldn't last me through our stay especially after paying the hostel. I needed to find a bank machine and I worried that it would be out of cash (as my guidebook warned). Randy was still sleeping (it was 9:50!). He had been acting a little funny since we arrived, so I decided he probably needed his sleep and left him a note to meet later, then I headed out. The sun was already harsh and I realized I had forgotten my hat. Fortunately I did manage to get cash, and then I collapsed, a big bundle of sweat, in a clean and fresh little place called Lemon i Cafe and proceeded to wait for Randy with an iced coffee. I wasn't sure he would show up, so by 11:00 I ordered eggs benedict. I was half way through eating them when Randy arrived.
I decided that I wasn't up for a snorkeling trip since I was still sniffling so we spent the first half of the afternoon reading on our porch, and then headed to the beach for a late afternoon swim. Well, at least I swam. Randy looked bored. Actually, he had told me before that he wasn't a beach person, even though he hadn't hesitated to take me on my suggestion to spend a few days on Boracay. I'm not really a beach person either, but my winter trips are the only opportunity I have to be near the ocean.
Anyways, once the sun was low enough, we started walking in the opposite direction from yesterday, and another couple of kms later hit a little cove accessed through an opening in a rock. From there we watched the sunset and then walked back. Tonight we had our last dinner at a Philippino restaurant called Mesa, which turned out to be the same "chain" as the one where we ate on my second night in Manila. This time I had the baby squid in olive oil which was delicious! You can't go wrong with garlic and olive oil!
We left early on Monday morning (the flight was at 10:20 am). This time I was able to see the town as the tricylcle (motorycle attached to little side and back carts) took us to the port for our 10-minute ferry ride to Caticlan. After the posh look of the beach promedade, the village looked definitely run-down and ramshackle. Randy wasn't very talkative at the aiport and all the way back to Manila, keeping his nose into his book. The flight was delayed by about half an hour. We said our quick goodbyes at the baggage caroussel at Manila airport. My bag was going straight to Tagbilaran on the island of Bohol (my next destination) so I headed back to the departure level for my connecting flight.
Half an hour after I left Randy, a local guy tried to pick me up at a lunch spot near the gates. Ha ha ha! I figured the rest of the trip would be interesting. :)