Tobey, who I met in a workshop last May, had been working in the island for months, something that dealt with a lot of “researching and copy-pasting” (her words), so it was apt to held her hostage and become our guide in Tiguatian Island, or now commercially known as Crystal Cove. Never heard until I read her entry about it weeks ago.
Woke up at six (that meant I approximately had four hours of sleep), taken breakfast, prepared our thingamajigs, bribed a tricycle for P20/head to bring us to a shore closest to the island which rested between Boracay and Caticlan, and braved the banka ride on rough waters. We arrived a bit out of breath and paid P200 each for the entrance fee.
The tiny island, something Davey Jones would gladly settle in, was not for the extreme city-dwellers or for those jaded by too much house music. (But I guess they really need it). A two-hectare mass of sharp stones and corals, the island had no running fresh water, and everything sold in it was pricey. But we were prepared and we lived to tell the tale. Thanks to Cheetos and measly liters of water.
Though not thoroughly developed, with some structures said to be built little by little through the years, what made up for what it did not have was the overall stunning ambience. It was a gorgeous piece of land, the caves with the crystals (finally found them, after minutes of scouring the island) an experience with those little pockets of water pool and sand. Sadly, since the seas that day were high and rough we were not able to dip and frolic in one of the two.
Then we were back in the Island of the United Colors of Benetton. Had lunch at Sababi Exotic Foods and Vegetarian somewhere in the heart of D*Talipapa. Bought our choice of food in the nearby wet market and made the restaurant cook them for us. Liempo, shrimps, scallops. That meal was divine. We also bought the mandatory pasalubongs around the premises.
After a quick dip in the pool back in the hotel, off we went to Puka Beach via tricycle for P25/head. The things I heard were right: it had one of the most beautiful sunsets in the country, perhaps even better than White Beach. We spent the entire afternoon taking pictures and embracing (or crashing into) the large surging waves. That explained my comrades’ body aches the following day.
On our way back to the resort, we managed to tick a few places off our list: Jona’s Milkshakes and The Real Coffee and Tea Café. The former’s Banana Chocolate Peanut Shake (P180) and the latter’s Ultimate Cupcake (P65 each)—which had a wicked combination of pineapple, walnut, raisin, banana, carrot, whatever—were both delightfully a surprise. For my mates who ordered the café’s famous Calamansi Muffins, they were not as enamored, though I honestly thought they were as yummy as the Ultimates. In fact, I believed one would be best served with a cup of dark coffee or hot chocolate.
And then they were worn-out. Four of the eight decided to rest on the remaining hours, knowing we had to leave the hotel at six the next morning. Good thing I managed to pull the other two out of their beds. A quick dinner was followed by one final walk to the White Beach. I texted Tobey to come with us, but she responded she had work to do. (Apparently, I forgot we also had work to do in a day’s time). It was an ordinary night, the occasional stares/looks from fellow tourists (or maybe locals) flashing at us maybe because of some strange familiarity or simply checking us out. I’d like to think of the latter.
Yes, ordinary, this night. Until we had our last drink at Epic in Station 2 around two in the morning. We were calmly lounging on rattan sofas outside the establishment when one man excused himself and asked permission if he could join us in the table. All three of us, of course, were surprised, but as if we had telekinetically imagined this was how the dynamics worked in a crowded-island-vacation, we agreed.
His name was Matt, he was from Oregon, and he had worked in the navy as a technical fixer (forgot the official term) in ships and other fighting machines for a possible war. For a couple of years. Now, he just had to identify where to expend his rewards, his moolah. Alone. He was fresh off Palawan and planned to stay for a week or two in Boracay. Next destination would be Cebu, and I, of course, suggested Negros Oriental and Bohol. And perhaps now desperate to have someone to talk to, he luckily found us along the shores looking like people also desperate to have someone to talk to. And boy he did talk. I could not spare enough space here to encapsulate his curriculum vitae just that between his stints as a high school wrestling coach and playing offbeat characters in a theater, he sure had one contentedly busy life. And at 26, that is one fortunate busy life.
By four in the morning, we three realized we were out of harm’s way, that this man was not one we initially thought he would be: lunatic (though the picture suggests otherwise), pretentious, implausible. Or maybe we were just dreadfully beat we did not notice any of them. Anyway. He planned to visit Manila and thought it would be nice to catch up with us three soon. Fine.
We returned to the hotel a few minutes later, fully aware we only had an hour before the rest of the group wakes up, ready to leap to the pier in Caticlan, returning to reality. It was an ordinary night, yes, but it only started that way.
[ 3rd of 3 parts ]