If you had asked me earlier this week what I’d be doing today, I could not have guessed that I would be looking into a volcano in the Philippines!
I arrived last night and Erin and Santiago met me at the airport. They already had a plan in place and the means to get there. I’m in Tagaytay now.
I have been in a taxi, on a boat, through a lake, on a horse, and in a van, all in 24 hours.
Santiago left his camera in the cab last night, so it has been a task to try and get it back. As of right now, he still has not gotten it back. The driver called us at 6 am to arrange everything. Our wakeup call never came, so we ended up being 2 hours behind schedule. they they cahrged us more for the room that was quoted. In the end it worked out. We got an extra breakfast that we needed out of it and we were good. Then the driver arrived to take us to the volcano. This takes about 30 min to where we get the boat to take us across the lake to where we get the horses which will take us up the mountain to the volcano. Truly worth the trek. We go back to the hotel and start doing research on our next stop while waiting for Arjun (the one with Santiago’s camera) to arrive. We don’t have much luck and decide to have some lunch. Arjun never arrives, the staff at the hotel think we’re being scammed for everything. The security guard, Alex, was our guardian angel.
He had gotten the licence plate recorded the night before and gave it to us so we could report it to the police if needed. Well, he never showed up, even with the promise of money, and Alex arranged for a van to take us to Laiya Beach which was our ultimate destination. We didn’t have a backup plan and that bothered me. We drove in this van for 5 hours, not knowing where we were, and neither did the drivers. I don’t know how many times we stopped to get directions. We stopped a second time to get beer and a washroom break. That ended up being in a jail/police station. They let us use it after cleaning up the floor for us. They even had prisoners in the cells, 10 feet off the ground. Now at least I can say I’ve been in a Philipino Jail! We finally arrived close to midnight and every hotel we went to had the gates locked up tight. It was looking pretty grim until one guard finally opened the gates to let us in. The relief was incredible. Like I said, I hate not having a backup plan. I’m glad it worked out for the better, but I wouldn’t do it like that again, especially when the locals don’t have a clue about where the place is.
The end result was wonderful. A little piece of paradise, and it was damn cheap. The first night, I was pretty tired, so I went to bed at about three. Next morning it rained. Santiago and I make our way to San Juan to get a bank machine, since the hotel didn’t take credit cards. It begins to pour again and about 5 jeepney’s go by and none are going to where we want. I’m suggesting that we go back to the resort and find somone to drive us into town. We’d already been waiting for more than 30 minutes and it was looking like it was not going to happen. Finally one comes along. We make it to San Juan, get to our bank machine and get the money we need. We now go to head back and the jeepney is full. Then the same one that took us there offers to take us back. We even get VIP seating at the front of the jeepney! Nice guys really.
I learned a lot about myself on this trip. I don’t like not having an escape route/plan. Until I have the means (i.e. money and worst case scenario method) I cannot relax. Once I had money and knew how long it would take to get back to Manila to get our flight, then I could let loose a little. It also didn’t help that I had little idea of how much things would cost.
I finally go into the water properly on the last night we were there. Amazing. I could see more stars than I had in ages. The water was so warm it was incredible. What I didn’t realize before, was that in the salt water, the bubbles become illuminated. I don’t know if that’s from the reflection from the lights off the shore, or (a suggestion that was made to me) how the salt water reacts with the human body. Either way, beautiful.
The next day, I was quite willing to hire a driver to take us to the Manila ariport. At then end of it, the route we took got us there ahead of schedule and cost us almost nothing. I now realize how paranoid I can be. I’m not saying that having an exit plan or worst case scenario plan is paranoid, but I really felt like I had to watch out for everyone. It’s better to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble.
As I said, one thing I learned, I am more paranoid than I thought. In addition, I’m wound too tight. I have to learn to loosen up a little.