Thursday, August 24, 2017

August 22 – Our Last Day in the Philippines

Our final day in the Philippines. At 9am our young tourist professional was at the hotel to meet us for our fishing trip. The four of us piled into a tricycle, which is the Filipino version of the tuk-tuk, built to transport two people comfortably, but I saw one with ten passengers, so the rules are flexible. The four of us fit in without too much trouble, but I had to side-saddle on the motorcycle, Stella and Ana got the nice chariot part, and Magnus got shoved into the luggage hold at the back.

The boy led us on his motorcycle and we ended up in a mangrove swamp, not too far from our original hotel. When I saw the boat waiting for us, I had to laugh. It was a tiny, Filipino style outrigger canoe with a driver who was obviously not used to taking tourists out. Our boy gave us two spools of line, wrapped on empty plastic water bottles, and a box of hooks and then put us in the hands of the fisherman, who instructed us all to jam into the front of the boat. He then took a rope, manually coiled it around the engine, gave it a mighty pull, and the small gasoline motor groaned to life and began propelling us forward through the mangrove pathways. I looked ahead to see that the front of the boat was nearly underwater because of all the weight, so I told the guy I needed to move to the back, which I did, putting me right in the tail of the boat with the engine exhaust pipe funneling fumes straight into my face.

The fisherman motored us through the mangroves and out to the huge coral reef that was just offshore, and surrounded by dive and snorkeling boats. He pulled up to a buoy that was anchored to a coral head and tied us up to it, and then baited the hooks for us. So I guess the fishing trip was going to be us jigging up tiny, colourful reef fish – not exactly what we had in mind, but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. As we were fishing I noticed water starting to collect in the boat, and realized I had accidentally kicked out the flimsy, rubber boat plug, so I quickly jammed it back in, and avoided an ocean disaster.

I managed to catch one tiny little blue fish but the kids were completely skunked. It was getting real hot outside so I took off my shirt and then the guide handed me a mask, which I took him up on and jumped in the refreshing water. I donned the mask and did some snorkeling – the reef was beautiful and full of tiny fish, many of which were going after the baits on the kids’ hooks, but they were so fast it was hard to hook them. Ana joined me for a swim and took the mask for a bit of snorkeling.

After about 30 minutes of fishing he ran out of bait so asked if we wanted to go back in, but I asked him to instead take us for a boat ride. He did just that and toured us around the reef and then straight through the swimming area of the beautiful resort on the beach, where he had to swerve to avoid prop-chopping the swimmers. He then took us back into shore, and both our guide and the tricycle driver were sitting there in the shade, waiting, as they knew we wouldn’t be out too long, with the limited amount of bait and the hot sun beating down on the tiny boat without a shade. But well done, I say – very entrepreneurial. We gave him the balance of the 2500 peso charge for the tour and parted ways, not particularly happy with the quality of the fishing experience, but at least we had an interesting new travel story.

We returned to the French bakery for sandwiches and then just chilled out for the remainder of the day. There were a couple of beach walks, swimming, relaxing in the room, and some final sunbathing to rev up those tans in advance of our impending return to the Great White North.

I had picked up a bottle of wine the previous day so Ana and I enjoyed a glass while sitting on the beach at low tide, watching the sun fall, checking the people (and dogs, and naked kids..) walking up and down the shoreline, and talking about all the things we did and saw on this fabulous, incredible trip. We agreed that we were both ready to go home, but that we would miss the luxury of spending each day seeing new things, following no set schedule, and relying on our eyes and stomachs to guide our course.

We had a final, unspectacular dinner, and then head back to the room to do some final packing and get prepared for our early morning departure….to Canada!

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