Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Camotes to Danao City, A Marvelous Experience

This was planned. Though I had no clear idea on how to do it, I wanted to leave Camotes by going to Danao City so that I would arrive there in time to watch the Caransa Festival. Note I am now talking about the City of Danao. Not the lake anymore, okay? The lake was two days ago. Fortunately for me, the crews at My Little Island Hotel are experts in everything Camotes. I just had to mention I wanted to go to Danao City as early in the morning as possible and they arranged everything for me!

There are ways to approach Danao from Camotes and I listened to them discussing my options. The JUNMAR (boat) leaves Poro at 0630H but it still passes by Puertobello in San Francisco before proceeding to Danao. Plus they heard it was still undergoing repairs and might not sail tomorrow. The RJR would be a better option as it leaves 0600H from Consuelo. But that means my leaving the hotel very early as it takes at least 30 minutes to even more going there. This was still the better and sure option. There is also the JOMALIA departing from Consuelo too at 0630H. Taking the SUPERSHUTTLE Ferry was counted out as it leaves Consuelo at 10AM. Finally they told me to wake up at 5AM so that the van could deliver me to the port in time for my desired ride to Danao City. BTW, the hotel van is free one-way only. So, since it picked me up for free on arrival, tomorrow’s ride is worth P500!

‘Rush Hour’
At 5:23AM, I jumped out of bed to the “tune” of the in-house phone ringing, my cellphone ringing and someone knocking at the door. What a wake-up call! For a second or two there, I didn’t know which to attend to… the hotel phone, my cellphone or the door hahaha! Instinct told me to get the door. When I opened up, Jairus was the one knocking and beside him was Randy who was calling my cellphone. Both had that worried look in their faces hehe! I only had to hear Jairus say, “sir…” and I ran for the showers to do everything quick. I left the door open, they entered and helped dunk my things into my backpack, except they did not know how to put the netbook off.

Good that I settled everything after last night’s dinner. The morning rush was probably just 5 minutes and I was already loaded on the van with Randy on the wheels while Jairus also rode with us. All crews (as if there were a lot hehe) were by the door to bid me farewell. Wow! Then Randy rushed us to Consuelo port. There was less talk on the road, and I did not want to bother him so he could concentrate on his driving. I thought we were too fast, but when we arrived, Randy smacked a hand on the steering wheel. I knew it, he meant the boat has left. When I looked, there was a pier but no boats. Argh! But…

Instinctively, we both looked at the van’s digital clock. It said 05:57. I was sure we were thinking of the same thing. If at all the boat already left, then it should have still been visible. But there was none. All we saw were two boats some distance away from the pier but were anchored. Randy asked around. No boat has ever left yet. One of the two boats floating idly few meters from the dock was RJR. No one knew yet if at all it would sail today. There were just about 7 of us who were sure passengers, the few others were just around to know if indeed a boat was leaving and at what time. Wohoa! That was hope enough for me. That meant, if no boat has left then there should be something in due time. I was too confident and told Randy and Jairus to just leave me at that pier and I would wait for a boat to depart with a condition that I will call them soon as I realize that nothing is happening.

The wait
There is a waiting shed with benches in the Consuelo pier. I opted to wait there as there was a light drizzle. The number of people and cargoes in this pier kept increasing. I hoped they were all going to Danao City hehe! Soon there was someone who looked like a crew of a boat. Some folks asked him, so I did too. Whoa! He was crew of RJR and he told me it would be leaving soon. Yey! In a while, a few feet from where I sat, a man with a table started issuing tickets for the RJR ride to Danao. And instantly, there was a queue. I joined in and realized I was already 23rd on the line. My golly how people here know what to do hehe!

Then RJR came to dock at the pier. Immediately, men started loading cargoes though no passengers were yet allowed to board. This scene became one of my most fantastic mornings ever. I watched “live” cargoes come to the pier in various modes and I watched them get loaded unto the boat. Wow! There were just too many things here getting loaded. I wanted to take a lot of pictures and videos but every time I attempted to, someone would cast a curious look at me. I did not want to get anyone’s attention as I didn’t know if people would get offended or not. So, I took everything secretly. Ah, they’re still fresh in my memory… and ah what a sight!

Some chickens (native chicken) came riding via multicabs and contained in round baskets that I couldn’t place where their openings were. Some chickens came in no container but their legs were tied together. Some goats and pigs came via multicab, motorbike, tricycle(motorized) or pedicabs(padyak). Some bananas came in cartons or sacks while some came bare as they were. Some peanuts, camote, other root crops and vegetables also came in various containers or just tied together. And funny that some stray dogs of the place also came just to bark at them other live cargoes being unloaded from their land based rides and unto the boat. Fantastic! Hair in my nape and arms were standing at the overwhelming sight of how this rural activity ensued. It consumed and overwhelmed me I did not know passengers were already being boarded haha!

Boarded at last!
So I boarded. This boat was named RJR-8. I wondered if there were RJR-1, RJR-2, RJR-3 etc. I followed the queue to my P180 worth, 2-hour ride going Danao City! Hmm, this boat is actually an outsized outrigger boat but it has a “second floor”. Whoa! First time I got on a big motorized banca with an “upper deck”. Eat your big heart out B-747! This one only has fresh air and no need for oxygen masks hehe! Most passengers were going upstairs so I followed them. The first level of the boat do have a lot of benches or what seemed like sitting areas but they were also awash with the sacks, boxes, containers, coolers, styroboxes, cartons and all other cargoes bare or in containers.

Upstairs? Ah well, most of what I saw there were people. I mean passengers. The cargoes remain downstairs, though some of those baskets with a lot of chicken inside were placed at the ledge in front of the “cockpit”. There are two stairs both found at the rear portion of the boat, there is a “CR” also at lower deck's rear-most and there is even a “smoking area” located at the open rear portion of the upper deck. Sosyal di ba?! Hehehe! And off the boat went bye-bye Camotes at exactly 7:20AM! I got all the more amused that all the live animals on board seemed to have calmed down and kept their quiet when the boat started moving forward. Yes, including that very adamant big pig on the video!



Arrival
After two hours and 5 minutes of that slow but leisurely boat-ride from Camotes (its only about 30kms away), we approached Danao City with the sun rising behind us! The festive atmosphere of the city was clear even from afar. And my morning view of Danao's fishport seemed to have quickly transported me to some mediterranean fishing village. Its beautiful! I looked back and there was a boat probably the same size as RJR that was following us towards Danao. I mustered it must have been moving faster since it kept getting nearer us as we approached the Danao City Pier. In fact, we almost simultaneously docked with my RJR ahead of it just about a minute.

Looking at it when it got nearest us, I realized it was the JUNMAR from Poro via Puertobello. Ah so it sailed after all. Maybe the repairs got done yesterday so it was already sea worthy. I did notice that it had less passengers than my boat. Probably not so many knew it was going to sail or probably all that it carried aboard were folks who did not know it was under repair the past few days. Well, what do I care. I was already in Danao City hehe, even if I had to be delivered to far Consuelo Port instead of just the nearby Poro Port. As I piled in to disembark, I looked at the clock on my phone. It said 9:25AM… just fine I thought!

Alrightie… the rush wake-up and showers, the crossed-fingers van ride to Consuelo, the gloomy arrival at Consuelo’s eerily silent port… they were all overshadowed by the fantastic experience that I just witnessed during the loading and boarding of the RJR. And I breathed them all suspense things out while we slowly cruised the very calm seas from Camotes to Danao.

Oh hey, the crews over at My Little Island Hotel did not at all leave me to oblivion! At exactly 6:30AM, an unknown handphone txtd me “sir, may boat na ba?” and I answered with “yes, I just boarded, loading still in progress”. At (again, exactly) 7:30AM, the same number txtd asking “sir, nakaalis na ba kayo?”. I replied with “mga 1 km na away from the port”. The tone of that message seemed to me it came from Joel, the manager. The reply was “k. have a safe trip, sir”! Then at 9:27AM I received a txt from Randy asking “sir, are you in Danao?” and I answered with “about to disembark from the boat”. A minute or two after that message, I received 7 messages from them all which I will summarize as “we hope you enjoyed your stay with us, enjoy Danao, thank you for staying with us, we are happy to have served you”! Now do you think I will forget My Little Island Hotel that easily? Hardly!

I actually think now, I enjoyed Camotes because of them folks over at My Little Island Hotel.

Ah, I was on mainland again! Hello Danao Cityyyyy!!!

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