Last weekend was a very fulfilling weekend for me. I was able to experience a lot of firsts, and though some of them I could have done without, the rest definitely made up for everything. Together with three of my officemates, I went to Bicol for the first time. We went to Calaguas, an island located in Camarines Norte. Uncharacteristically, I plunged head on into this trip without having made any effort on researching the place beforehand so I had absolutely no idea of what to expect.
Another “first” would be that Moche did not go with us on the trip. And for almost 3 years of togetherness, I did realize that I have been so used to his company that I couldn’t rightly recall how to function without him. There was no one to cuddle to on the cold, cold bus, no one who’d wait patiently while I go to the restroom, etcetera, etcetera. The list goes on but I don’t want to turn this post into a sappy rant-athon.
Mahabang Buhangin, Tinaga Island, Calaguas
The real misfortune struck when we reached the island. As soon as my feet touched the Calaguas shore, the red sea came rushing in. It was horrible! It was the first time that I ever went on a beach trip with my period arriving on the same day that I hit the beach. Last year when we went to Kota Kinabalu, my period checked in with me at the airport. But that was okay since beach day was on the third day and it wouldn’t be as bothersome. But this time, my stay in Calaguas had been on a first day high – or lowest of the low – with dysmenorrhea fixing my face on a perpetual grimace. I was hardly able to enjoy anything.
But now, let us focus on the beauty of Calaguas and the surrounding islands. Whenever I come back from a trip people always ask about the sand. I find this a bit funny (but really irritating sometimes). I mean, yeah, the sand is indeed part of the beach experience but its being comparable to the ever famous Boracay sand is not tantamount to a great beach, or a fantastic beach experience. I would rather focus on how clear the water is, how free of trash the shore is, how gradual the shore slope goes down… These are my concerns. Truly, Boracay is a yes on all these attributes but the amount of hype and business establishments there just dampened the experience for me. Meanwhile, Calaguas sand was fine and light mocha in color near the beach, but a bit darker nearer the tents. And when I rubbed the sand on my feet, there seemed to be some greasy black residue that stayed on, making my feet really dirty. Maybe that was my sun block plus coal debris from previous barbeques. Anyway, about the water, wow, it was really clean and sparkling clear! The island remains to be unspoilt and most of its visitors are nature-lovers so there wasn’t any trash unconscientiously left lying around. And since there was no resort whatsoever, it was a real opportunity to get in touch with nature. It was great.
Island Hopping in Calaguas
It was decided that we would go island hopping after lunch. We only visited the Calaguas group of islands and some of the island names I was able to catch are: Kinastilyuhan, Pumalasag, Sugod and Sampitan. I was not able to exploit these visits because it was high tide and I could not leave the boat without wetting my already aching lower body. So I stayed on the boat and read an ebook on my iTouch while the rest of the group went traipsing and camwhoring around. How I envied them. T__T
Anyway, I missed the name of the last island we went to because the bangkero did not mention it at all, and due to my excitement of being finally able to jump ashore, I no longer asked.
Calaguas = Camping
Back in Calaguas island, I went night swimming with my colleagues. I figured it was already so dark – zero electricity – that no one would notice if blood started to run down my legs. So I dove in and it was heavenly being able to swim in the cloak of darkness with the cool water enveloping me. Less people around too, so less need to care if you bump your head on somebody or not. It was also my first time to do night swimming.
But so I don’t forget that I was still roughing it, I had to rinse off on one of those hand water pumps. According to my officemate, those pumps were not yet there about two years ago so we really should count ourselves lucky. So despite my special needs, I had to shower there in front of everyone else, just like everyone else. The dippers were shared, the water was pumped by a local (guy!), and we had to pay him P10 for his troubles. Pas mal if you ask me.
Read more: Camping at the Nagsasa Cove
A lot of people went in for the night a bit after dinner but since I wasn’t too eager to punish my body on the hard beach floor, I stayed on the hut and continued to read. Around 10:00 pm, I noticed that this other group of travelers were congregating on the beach, so I went to investigate. There was this guy “Chef” who was giving a demo on how to mix drinks. He was mixing piña colada when I got there. Then he did amaretto sour. Lastly he taught us the “Calaguas sling” – 2 counts vodka, 2 counts gins, 2 counts tequila, grapefruit juice and curaçao blue to garnish.
After the drinks demo, there was the fire dance! How I loved it! It was my first time to see one live and it was fascinating. When I first saw zipping on TV, I immediately wanted to learn how to do it. Unfortunately, my older sister managed to discover where it could be done. And because naunahan na n’ya ko, the fire went down. But seeing those fire dancers swing and swoosh around those leashes of fiery balls, ahh… I just want to do it all over again! The fire dance was definitely one of the highlights of my stay there. ♥
Read more: Burot Beach: another camper’s haven.
Sleeping in a tent had been hard. Literally. The curves of my body were not prepared to endure that unyielding beach floor. I initially thought that since the ground was sandy, it would fit into the contours of my body. But no. This did not happen. What happened was that it even rained! I think I hardly slept at all.
Lack of sleep, untimely period and the heat were the perfect ingredients to the bane of my life: migraine. So it was dysmenorrhoea day 1, then migraine day 2. The lakwacha gods were definitely not working with me last weekend. And because of the lethargy that swept over me, I did not go hiking to the top of a mountain to capture the beautiful 360 view of Calaguas. Such a shame.
Bagasbas = Surfing
We went back to Daet via a 2-hour boat ride and a bus ride to Bagasbas. At that point, I had been reeling with my headache despite having taken some paracetamol. Yet despite my temporary handicap, I still pushed through with what I went there to do: SURF. I had been having second thoughts about surfing but I literally threw caution to the wind and accepted Mocha’s offer of surfing lessons. We had lunch, visited downtown to buy some pili tarts and pili clusters for pasalubongs. By that time, I really had to sleep on the short van ride back to the Surfer’s Inn or I would’ve lost it completely.
We had land lessons about the parts of the surfboard (rail, deck, bottom, stringer, nose, tail, fins), how to hold the surfboard on land and in water, and the real challenge: how to stand. Of course, standing on land was not the real issue but we still had to determine what type of stance we’ve got. I have the “regular” stance as my left foot is forward while my right foot serves as the back foot. The reverse is called “goofy”. Go figure.
Surfing time! This very young instructor of 17 y.o. was assigned to me. And boy, was he ever so sungit. I mean, he was pure business. He just kept telling me what to do. He hardly smiled at his own volition. I felt like I had to entertain him the whole time! He did not even cheer me on when I was able to do progress with my surfing. Maybe it was a breeze to him when he was just starting. In the span of an hour, I was able to wipe out more than I cared to count, scrape my knee, land on my butt, and be undressed by the waves – my rash guard rushed to my neck and took my bikini top with it, thankfully I was underwater the whole time.
But most awesome of all: I was able to ride the waves standing! Undeterred by my raging migraine nor that feeling of impending puke. I DID IT! THREE TIMES!
I think this is a wonderful start to a new love. ♥
May 21-22, 2011
P.S. A couple of months later, I went back… and this was what happened.