Sunday, April 10, 2011

, , ,

The grainy feel of the sand on my toes

The instruction couldn't have been clearer: meet at McDonald's Quezon Avenue at 6 am, American time—a Filipino way of saying, if you're not here by then, we'll go ahead without you.

The destination: Camaya Cove, Mariveles, Bataan. The purpose: a summer getaway with the mentoring group.

It was all Dr. Belen Dofitas' idea; we love her for that. Only three of us made it, though: myself, Ching, and Marvyn. Casti was busy with work; the twins and Jegar had appointments; while Dalvie waited in a different McDonald's branch. We had to leave him.

The weather was bleak during the 2.5 hour land trip. It was drizzling here and there. The sun was nowhere to be seen.

photo

But the rain wasn't enough to quench the infectious excitement of Matthew, Dr. Belen's son, who tagged along with us.

photo

Minutes before we reached Mariveles Port, the sun started to show itself. What joy that brought us. We could put our sunglasses to good use.

photo

We knew we were "almost there" when we saw the sea, blue, seemingly endless, reaching to the ends of the horizon.

photo

photo

photo photo

This change of weather, together with the panoramic view of poetic proportions, revived our senses.

photo

We hopped on the boat that would take us to the Cove, some 15 minutes away from where we were floating.

photo photo photo

All this excitement didn't hinder us from getting some quiet moments of contemplation. After a tough semester, the cool, salty breeze caressing our cheeks was a welcome respite.

photo

Boat trips, even short ones, can be dehydrating. Due to the hypertonicity of the ocean breeze, perhaps, or  our lack of discernment in not bringing any bottled water. Thankfully, this glorious, refreshing sight greeted us as soon as we had arrived.

photo

And then, of course, who would ever miss this?

photo

The moment my feet touched the sand, I remembered a conversation I had with friends from Europe. I told them about the beaches in the country, how beautiful and picturesque they are. I would never forget the look of longing on their faces. And yet here I was, basking in the glorious sunshine and the warm, grainy feel of the sand on my toes.

photo
photo photo photo photo

We had lunch and laughter and sunscreen. The sun was directly overhead. It was surreal.

photo

MJ, our guide, took us to a place that left our jaws hanging. The wilderness looked like a piece of the African savannah, minus the lions and leopards—which was a good thing because had they been there, they would've heard our loud cries of excitement and made us their protein sources.

photo photo photo

We didn't let the golden opportunity pass without the mandatory jumpshot. Here was Dr. Dofitas' piece of advice: first, take two steps forward to gain momentum; second, leap with joy. We followed her to the letter. During the second take, Ching, in her explosion of excitement, knocked Matthew off the frame. That unthinkable cruelty isn't in this shot.

photo

The strip of land and the adjacent beach are being developed by a Filipino-German corporation, one that specializes in real estate. One could tell that the properties here would sell like hotcakes. The view, after all, was just breathtaking. As I looked around, I wondered if projects like this can ever be good for the environment in the long run.

photo photo photo photo photo

We went around the pool and gardens, occasionally posing here and there, like certified tourists.

photo photo photo

And after numerous reminders from Dr. Belen, to put on sunblock—because, as a dermatologist she knows how damaging the sun can be to the integuments—we took a dive.

photo photo

Ma'am taught Ching how to float like a dead woman. Like an obedient student, Ching learned it quickly.

There were other people in the beach, too. It dawned on me that we could, of course, never be too certain how many of these people urinated underwater—or if they did. Bathing in other people's excreted fluids is always a risk.

photo photo

The beach is a great place because one can do many things apart from swimming. Take kayaking, for example, which Marv and Ching tried.

photo

Or riding the banana boat, which, on closer inspection, actually looked like a pencil.

photo photo

MJ then took us hiking.

photo

In our exhaustion, we were relieved to see this: a waterfall of sorts, nothing like Maria Cristina, but it was enough to reward our pains of getting to the top.

photo

Tired from all the travel, swimming, strolling, and photographing, we were treated to a massage, a proper way to cap off what would definitely end up as a highlight of our 2011 summer break.

photo photo

On the ferry ride back home, I was filled with thanksgiving: to Ma'am Belen for treating us to this awesome experience and for being the great mentor that she is, to all the members of my mentoring group for being great classmates and friends, and to God for giving me a glimpse of His majestic creation.

photo

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.