Tuesday, November 24, 2009 by Daniel

Philippines Day 10: Wet, wet, wet

It is now most of the way through Tuesday, and it has rained all day. It is a warm and (mostly) gentle rain, so it hasn’t put too much of a damper on the experience, but it did cause us to postpone our scuba lesson until tomorrow when, hopefully, it will clear up. We did go snorkeling on the eastern side of the island, where the rain did not make much difference in the experience. It was as advertised: the quantity and variety of fish on this side dwarfed that of the other, though the coral was generally not as impressive. Everyone agreed that the highlight of the session was the large octopus that Marcus found hiding under a ledge (he has very sharp eyes), but also very cool were the breadbox-sized clams lying open-mouthed on the sea bed, and the HUGE school of hundreds of big fish sweeping slowly along the coral, tails a-flutter as they fed on something we could not see. There were also smaller schools of small turquoise fish that mingled with orange ones, and bright bright iridescent blue ones hanging out near the octopus. Parrot fish were abundant, as were other, opalescent fish that reminded me of giant mood rings. Several lavender starfish, fully two feet from tip to tip, sprawled on the bottom amid some nasty-looking but beautiful sea urchins.

Rebecca came this time, and had a far more positive experience than she’s ever had before. In the past, she’s felt somewhat freaked out by all the fish, and the sense that there was something lurking in the water that she couldn’t see. Whether it was due to the clarity of the water or her own increased bravery, however, she didn’t have that problem this time. She didn’t much like the minor jellyfish stings, though (none of us did), and has been suffering today from a bit of traveller’s rumbletummy, so she didn’t stay out too long. Jai got out a little bit later, lips faintly bluish from chill (the guy has about 5% bodyfat). I hung in as long as I could, reluctant to give up the amazing things there were to see all around us, but also having a difficult time between the nasty saltwater taste in my throat and cramping feet and calves unaccustomed to so much swimming and tired from yesterday. I would swim back to shore occasionally to stand on solid ground, empty my mask and just spend a few minutes resting and breathing normally before plunging back in for another look around. Levi and Marcus were indefatigable, diving down to the floor to point out particular things they had spotted. I tried diving myself a few times, and was surprised at the sudden pressure in my ears. I was never able to fully clear my snorkel when I came back up, though, so would usually spend a while afterwards dumping seawater out of the mask and snorkel, which was tiring.

Rebecca came back an hour or so later to tell us it was time for lunch, which tasted sooo good after all that nasty seawater. Now we are all resting in our separate rooms, staring somewhat morosely out at the storm (which has gotten very blustery). Ben checked the satellite map, and the storm is supposed to have already passed us and is heading southeast away from the islands, so it should clear up by tomorrow if not later today. There has been some discussion of returning to the western side for a little more snorkeling, but between the storm and the lateness of the hour (it’s already 4:30), I doubt it will happen. It’s a shame, as we would all love to get in some quality time in the sun – hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Addendum: we wound up going snorkeling again, after all. It was a learning experience: don’t bother snorkeling after a storm. We went quite late in the afternoon, with only an hour or so of light left. The water was dark, murky, and almost totally devoid of life. We swam from the stairs on the northwestern corner of the island down to the house where Levi and I went yesterday, a distance of about a mile, then got out and walked back. By that time, it had gotten so dark that one of the island’s security guys had come after us with a flashlight. A nice little bit of exercise, but the prettiest thing we saw was the fragment of sunset through the clouds before it started raining again.

Dinner was a bit more subdued than last night – I think people are trying not to let the weather get them down. Ben played his new favorite game: mock the Koreans. The other group on the island with us is a group of Korean couples that he says are on a marriage tour – something he says they like to do, that costs exorbitant amounts of money. They are young, rambunctious, don’t speak any English (except for their guide, who is the only one of them to interact with the staff whatsoever), and are prone to odd behavior (like wearing life vests in the shallow pool). Ben just HATES them, and relishes in opportunities to point out rude or (by our standards) classless things they do. I know mocking tourists is a favorite pastime of natives – we did it in Winthrop, and occasionally in San Francisco- but maybe since I’m a tourist here myself I’m less inclined to be critical and just chalk their behavior up to that of excited young newlyweds. I didn’t like the cigarettes they were smoking at lunch, however. (By and large, smoking here is only a little bit more common than it is in the Bay Area, and they generally have the same policies against smoking in restaurants and public areas that it hasn’t been a problem at all. You usually have to walk through a haze of smokers at the tables outside the entrance to the mall, but it’s a tiny nuisance and it’s smoke-free inside.) The resort has promised to seat us further apart in the future, and since it’s an open-air pavilion and we usually don’t eat at the same time anyway, it shouldn’t be a problem again.


Sun Jain said...

Phillipines seems to be a cool place!!

Vicki said...

I had my honeymoon there! It really is gorgeous.

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