Wednesday, January 27, 2010

To Siargao from Surigao

By outrigger boat… and that was a practical choice since I was already at Surigao City.

I asked around the previous day and concluded that the best way was to hop on a boat called Bretphil at 6AM. I saw that boat … a big outrigger where there are two levels or decks. The early departure from Surigao meant an early arrival on Siargao that would afford me more time to explore the place. Nice plan but it did not happen hehe!

Why? Well, when I woke up 5AM on my intended day of departure, the skies were very dark and there was a heavy downpour. Everywhere looked like it was still midnight. Gosh! Either I still wanted to sleep or was afraid to sail at such a weather condition… but that was it… no-go! Over breakfast though (still at Tavern Hotel), I did get some encouragement from the crews and the sun that played hide and seek with the clouds. The hesitation was still there since light drizzles were not totally off! There was a 1030AM schedule via a boat called Argie 2, and I could see it from the restaurant already starting to fill with people and cargoes.

Nothing to do with still a gloomy sky at 9AM, I decided to just the same go for it! Hurriedly packed-up and checked-out of Tavern. The bellhop even got a big umbrella and walked me to Argie 2 as he carried my backpack under his own umbrella! Whoa! He even went into the boat and chose a seat for me (two rows behind the driver, on upper deck)!

Before departure, nothing looked pretty around Argie 2. It was a gloomy morning… there was a light rain… no children swimming nor diving from the outriggers at the wharf. All windows of the boat had to be closed so that rain wont wash in, and my only view of the outside world was via the small entranceway to this small “upper deck” that would from time to time be opened when passengers or crew came and went. Hah, I had to fervently say my silent prayers. Even thought I was pushing myself too much this time. Departure was uneventful – at least in surprisingly very calm waters – even if it was still drizzling.

Thirty minutes into the trip though, things started to get a bit bright, at least for me. There was no more rain and those plywood windows started popping open. Yey! I could already see the outside even if it was all sea hehe! The cool air entering the windows was already a delight and the splashing waters on the side of the boat was audible instead of the monotonous roar of the engine. Oh the water.

My first glance was to appreciate the calmness but when I looked intently, I realized we were traversing whirlpools. Wow! What a wide expanse of swirling waters! I would not be surprised if they call this area another Liloan sinice everything was a “lilo” as far as my eyes could see. Then there were the mangroves. Another wow! This must have been the widest expanse of naturally growing mangroves amidst deeper waters that I have seen in the country. They are lush and they are tall and very green. The forests are like islands but I could not see land. Everything was green with the leaves of the “bakawan”. And there were too many of them “islands” that the boat was like mazing through in between them.

Then there were the flying fish! Oh yes they were flying away from us, probably frightened by the boat’s roar. And then there were islands, habited and not. Then there were power lines! Eh?! Electric power wires in the sea?! Yes yes, and it got me excited hehe! Those wires cross islands suspended in air by rather thin steel tubes as posts. My golly! I could just imagine if any of them were knocked over by wayward boats hehehe!

Then there were little breaks of white that seemed to accent the rather still waters. Ah, a crewman told me it was a sandbar but submerged this time under high tide. Then there were white birds and fishermen silently still in the equally still waters. I was now standing out on the little walkway by the side of the boat, savoring the cool breeze as we cruised along. Then the sun slowly showed itself and showed the beauty of those little islands we were passing by.

When I looked around, people were already merrily chatting. Why were we all so silent earlier? Because of the gloomy skies? Probably! But this was already one happy boat and I peppered anyone who approached with a lot of questions like... How come we were already approaching the Dapa wharf and it was only about 3 hours of travel when I learned from the internet that it is usually 4 hours or more. Someone gladly informed me that it was because, the Argie is smaller and can pass by the shallow waters in between those little islands and mangrove forests. It is like a short-cut route! I also asked how come the waters were very calm all the way considering that it was raining and even a bit windy. The reply was, because our travel route was generally inside the maze of mangrove forests where the waters were shielded from strong wind and rough waves. A woman even added that this was the very reason she does not ride the big boats “because they pass out there in the high seas of the pacific”!

Oh my that was a fantastic trip after all!


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