In every direction the Philippines has beautiful landscapes & ample opportunities for exploration. This place is an Earth Scientist dreamland! From the top peaks of the mountains & volcanoes to the deep trenches of the ocean & everything in between amazing views of the Earth are waiting to be seen. gazing from the rocks and sand of the Earth to the thick clouds in the sky it is very rare that I need to remind myself that I am in paradise. The colors are so vibrant, the brightest blues & greens I have ever seen! The other day I saw a tree with flowers every color of the rainbow~quite a site.
About a week or so ago I was given my PADI scuba certification after four days of hittin the books and underwater lessons. We were stuck in Moal Boal for those 4 days- and it wasnt too bad of a spot to be stuck. I went 20m or 65ft deep in the ocean & saw a whole new world. I thought snorkeling was cool... pshhhhh.. Scuba diving is one experience EVERYONE should have, snorkeling is incomparable, when you dive you are IN the ecosystem. That might scare some, but I was thriving! I swam with a sea turtle, it was probably 1-2ft away from me. I felt like I could reach out and grab it, but I resisted, and swam with it instead. During this moment I felt the energy of my brother, an avid turtle lover. At another point we were swimming up on what seemed to be a huge dark rain cloud, it was almost scary how big it was. I noticed it was a school of sardines, millions of sardines, like you would see on a clip of a Planet Earth movie, each of them were swimming in sync with each other. I saw GINORMUS tunas trailing their path, but the day before Matt saw Thresher Sharks stalking them. Moal Boal on Cebu Island is a major attraction for diving because of its massive coral wall. The shore goes for about 30m then suddenly drops to the dark deep ocean floor, along the wall the ocean life is beaming in all shapes, colors, and sizes. I cannot even begin to explain what I saw because it would take me hours. But I was in awe by the sights, and I was almost as impressed that I could breath underwater.
The bus rides are long, some up to 6 hours, but they allow me time to think. Each place we pass seems similar to the last, but still unique in its own way. A transformation has already shifted inside of me, I dont know why or how, it just has. I feel a oneness with everyone and everything, as though they are a part of me, rather than separate. Two months ago I had no idea who these people were and now I see their ways of life as a beautiful manifestation of tranquility and serenity. Even the parts that seem hard to swallow, I allow myslef to see the light of their ideas and visions. Every section of each island we pass provokes a deifferent thought, and I am trying to absorb it all. The school yards are so full of life with children hopping around with smiles and excitement to be out! They stare at me with amazement as I pass by with a smile in return. I think they are facinated by my curly hair, I might be the only onw in 1000 miles with it. The other day Matt & I went to Malapataya secifically to see their colorful market. It encompassed a vast display of their culture. From the dried fish, fruits & vegetables native to their land, big slabs of tuna & beef with flies covering them & women trying to shew them away, cheap plastic toys & shiney things, buckets of slop that looked like fish guts (but that was only my guess), cows pigs goats, and chickens running around to the sound of kareoke every 5m, this place screamed Filipino life.
We just left Sugar Beach, once again we got stuck on a secluded beach paradise. And this was the most secluded yet. :) In order to get there we had to take a bangka boat that cost 300pisos/$6 one way. Once we were there everything turned into complete relaxation mode. There were no tricycles zooming up & down the street, no buses honking, no roosters crowing, no street lights, just clean white beach surrounded by blue ocean, hammocks hanging in every capable tree, a few hostels & resorts, and a small village. We got stuck hanging in hammocks, reading our books, and playing in the ocean for 5 days. A total of 6,000 Pisos/$13 per day including food, I can't complain. While we were there I was having continuous headaches & mild fevers at nighttime. I was sick of feeling like crap at night so I decided I needed to see a doctor to figure out the issue and get some medicine. As soon as we stepped foot in the doctors office I instantly changed my mind about the state I was in. There were probably 75 people waiting to see the 1-2 doctors, mostly sick babies and children. I decided to save that stop for emergencies only and stopped at the pharmacy instead. Yesterday on our bus ride to Bacolod (North Negros) Matt & I decided everytime we get on a long distance bus one of us will give away a belonging of ours to an unknown Filipino who looks in need of a brighter day.
We made it to North Negros with intentions of climbing Mt. Kanlaon, an active volcano, but today we found out it is booked for a month.. We were both very excited to do some volcano trekking, but a change in course is now in progress.
Today marks my 1 month exploration away from home, and Matt's 2 month (were totally treating ourselves to sushi tonight). The Islands have treated us VERY well so far, but we are getting a bit antsy and eager for a more intense excursion. We decided once we get into Indonesia we are going to start volunteering, WWOOFing, and finding a greater role. But we still have a few weeks left in the Philippines to relax & soak it up, and 3 more Islands to investigate. Leaving no stone left unturned.
More pics are coming soon, its hard to find internet cafes that will let you upload data.