Saturday, May 12, 2012

Wander-bound finally embarks
    It was 4 a.m. and I was ready to go when heavy rains fell. There was thunder and lightning too. What a good way to commence my first solo travel, I thought. The rain lasted for about an hour. I was about to give up, postpone my trip, and go back to sleep (frustrated) when it suddenly ceased, though not totally. Although I was quite hesitant for the skies hung heavy and gray, which later turned out to be indeed sunny, I grabbed my backpack and decided to GO
Time check: 5:30 a.m. It's very clear now that it's impossible for me to catch up the first trip, but anyway I should go, the urge to travel is just too overwhelming.

     Destination? Camotes Island, particularly the town of San Francisco. 

     From the bus terminal at White Gold, I took a bus to Danao, where a ferry travels to Camotes eight times a day (not so sure about this). Reaching Danao will take you around two hours. I was restlessly checking at my watch from time to time, hoping that I'll get there in time for the 6:30 p.m. trip, but no, I didn't. I took the ferry that leaves at 8:30 a.m.

     I was in a high. I mean, I can't believe that I'm kicking off my solo travel. Me, myself, and I going to a place I've never been before, not just any place but the Enchanting Camotes Islands. For documentation purposes, I took a photo of my fellow passengers heading to the ferry, something to prove that I was really alone. XD I was very excited that I could carelessly approach anyone and say that I'm traveling alone, which of course I never did, not until when I was stranded of which you will later find out. 
     As I took a seat beside a woman and her little daughter, I can't help but flash a smile at them. The child smiled back, at least she didn't find me weird. Now I took a photo of my ticket, which I did quite discretely to avoid demeaning glances or provoke judgment. 
     I was there, alone and excited (what a weird combination). I (inwardly) happily munched a bag of peanuts I bought back at the boarding area. The vast expanse of the sea was captivating, screaming freedom. That very moment, I embraced the joy of uncertainty and thought, This is where I want to be.

     During the two-hour travel, for thirty minutes, I think, I was lulled to sleep by the intense heat of the sun. I would never have wanted to fall asleep, not wanting to miss out anything interesting that might come up (I was actually  rooting for the dolphins they said would frequently surfaced the seas on the way to Camotes. :)). But half of the time took me back to memories of traveling in my childhood. I fondly reminisced the times my family would take long trips to Camiguin, where my father's hometown is. That time there were still very few boats traveling directly to Camiguin, so we have to pass  Cagayan de Oro, where we have to go on sea and land trips. I admit that I complained at times, but I always remember getting excited seeing our bags (most of the time stuffed to capacity) and having to carry more than one to lessen expenses on porter fees. The best part for me was the walk towards the boat, when everyone seemed to be in a hurry, and the feel of the backpack strap on my shoulders (and having to adjust it once in a while).

     Those memories tell me that even before I was inspired by travel blogs, I already loved traveling, that within me is adventure and wanderlust.

     When we were nearing the port of Consuelo, San Francisco, Camotes, I couldn't help but mentally utter "wow" seeing how lush the vegetation is; you see, the view form the boat shows an all-green expanse, closer you'll see rows and rows of coconut trees. (Again mentally) I jumped for joy. Everything was excitement and looking forward to the sense of place that there is.
      It was Earth Day, just fitting that I visited San Francisco, Camotes, one of Cebu's model towns. I didn't get to tour around Camotes because I wasn't really there for a vacation but for a feature story that I'm working on, a work-related one. Although I don't have to go there for the interviews, I believe that I can better write the feature if I do talk with the people personally and see the place myself.
     The plan really was for me to board the 4 p.m. trip back to Cebu City, but the ferry boat was already filled to capacity when I reached the port. It was the last return trip for the day. Yes, I was stranded. So I slept at the boarding area with the other 30 plus passengers waiting for the 3:30 a.m. trip the next day. I didn't know if I really had a sleep as it was uncomfortable to sleep while sitting. All I was thinking the whole time was for me to get back in time for work, at 8:30 a.m.

    However, I was thankful that I was one of the "lucky" people that afternoon, for I was able to bring home beautiful photos. These photos were just taken at the port area, but hey, the landscape is amazingly scenic to ignore. There's no time to wallow in worries when you're surrounded with what you came for--distance, peace, and beauty
     I would like to thank Sir Yule, Vice Al, Ma'am Roming, and Ma'am Willy who showed me how empowering citizens can do wonders in building communities; the three children who accompanied me to the beach for the sunset photos that I've been dreaming to take for a long time; and the vendors at the port area who allowed me to stay at their food stalls for an hour when I only bought coffee and bread. I also enjoyed my conversation with them. I like how they talk to you as if you're also a local. It was also fun  talking with the three children who went with me to the beach. You can see how they love their place and how simple and unpretentious their views  on things are. They casually warned me of sea snakes that sometimes surface on the beach when it's low tide, and it was low tide and were walking on the beach. Those kids are so cool.

     Indeed, San Francisco has both the beauty of place and the kindness of people.
     I have to admit that the whole trip was bitin, but I know I can always come back and explore more of the rest of the Camotes islands. Well, this is just my first in solo traveling, and I know there's more in store out there.
     In spite of being in a hurry the next day, barely making it to the 8:30 a.m. log in time (arrived at the office at 8:27 a.m.), I started the day feeling good and ready to face work head-on.

     I am a worrier, and worrying less is hard work for me. But my first solo travel showed me that I can actually handle unexpected circumstances and failed plans coolly if I learn to let go and make something good out of the experience. There may be things that is out of our control but never our perspective. Discovery comes when we try to see things in a different light. I tried and discovered that it is not really about how long you stayed in the place or where you've been to, but how you embraced the place as it is, not what you see in tourism ads or travel blogs. 
   Lesson for this travel, Choose your own adventure and everything will be all right.

          The newbie to solo traveling is officially in the house!


Budget Guide

        White Gold terminal to Danao - 35
         Trisikad to Danao port - 10
         Ferry boat (Jomalia Shipping Corp.) back and forth - 360
         Terminal fee - 10
         Danao to Cebu City - 35

     Just check the Web for the trip schedule of Jomalia Shipping Corp., as well as other shipping lines that travel to Camotes. 

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