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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 13: FOUR Islands, a very secret beach, delicious food, and lots of laughs and cheers!

I woke up nice and early to get in some blog writing before my 9am Island hopping appointment!  When I got to Ric Sons, they were fogging for mosquitos, because a couple of the employees have come down with the Tangee (sp?) fever, which is similar to Malaria.  So, I hung on the beach for a while, while all of the gas they blew into the restaurant aired out!  Rica's grandmother is visiting, and was playing with her in the water this morning!  She was basically holding Rica by her shirt and diapers, which looked incredibly uncomfortable, but she was loving it!

I ended up having breakfast down the beach a bit, because the fumes were in full affect for a long time at Ric Sons!  I ate with a nice couple who I had met at the internet cafe the day before, Jess (from Wisconsin) and Adam (from Jersey).  They actually both teach English near Seoul, South Korea, so we had lots to talk about!

Jason was my boat driver for the day and was an awesome guide!  He took us to 4 different islands and a VERY secret beach!

This was our first stop... hidden beach!  The water was a gorgeous aqua blue, and the sand was some of the softest white sand I'd ever sunk my toes into!

But the color of the water and the sand weren't even the best part!  The best part, in my opinion, were the baby sharks that were swimming near the boat!  This was the 1st time I'd ever seen a shark in the wild, and they were actually quite cute!  I had the pleasure of swimming with one of them!  It swam about 3 feet ahead of me for 20-30 seconds!  Add another crazy thing to my list:
I swam with a shark!

The islands in the Philippines are thought to have been created by a volcano eruption over 200 million years ago!  Most of them are dark gray, and do, in fact, look like hardened lava!  We stopped here for a while to see a hidden chapel, and climb to a viewpoint!  Unfortunately, it was drizzling a bit, so I left my camera on the boat...

At one point it was raining so hard that we all put on life jackets to keep warm!  The weather in the Philippines is kind of crazy!  It rained for about an hour, and then the rest of the day was blue skies!

We stopped at another island, with a secluded beach, where I found my 1st Nemo!  It was swimming in the coral!  We had to be extra careful swimming here, because there was a really strong current, and lots of sea urchens (sp?) which are really dangerous if you step on them!  Other than that, it was a great place to relax and do some snorkeling!

The boat driver, and Jason, our tour guide, prepared lunch for us at the beach!  Delicious fish, squid, fruit, Philippino style pork, and rice! 

Lunch, prepares by someone other than myself, on a secluded island... Yea, I could get used to this!  

This is Maya!  She was on the tour with her parents!  Her mom is from Australia and her dad is from England, and they currently live in England.  She had the most darling British accent and to be quite frank, I couldn't get enough of her!   We played in the water together, sifting through corals and deciding if they looked like a heart, a dog, a letter, or a body part, oh and of course, she taught me how to throw fairy dust (sand)! Her mom said she's really shy and doesn't talk to many people, but that she was "really smitten" by me and that I "have a natural ability with children!"  That was really exciting for me to hear, since I always felt awkward around kids before coming to Korea!  I was honored!

There are over 7,000 islands in the Philippines, and we probably boated past at least 10... each just as beautiful, and private, as the other!

Okay, now look REALLY closely... See the red circle I drew on the picture?!   Well, this is the only way to get to "secret beach" which wasn't discovered until 2 years ago!  I strapped my lifejacket on, jumped off the front of the boat into 90 meter deep water, and swam through that teeny tiny whole, while timing it perfectly with the waves to make sure I didn't get my head whacked into the top of the opening!  What I saw on the other side was like a dream!  Words couldn't explain it if I tried!   

This was the tour group!  From left to right
Mel (England)
Maya (England)
Jess (Wisconsin, but teaches English in Korea)
John (England - he's been traveling for 2 years)
Adam (New Jersey, but teaches Engish in Korea with Jess)
??? - a really nice German man
??? - Mel's husband, great guy, but don't know much about him.

There are so many of these gorgeous secluded sections of sand throughout the Philippine Islands!   If I come back, with Aaron, we're gonna camp on one for a night!   

This was our last stop, Helicopter Island, a great place for snorkeling and lounging on the sand!  John and I snorkeled way off shore into about 50 feet deep waters and saw some of the most gorgeous gigantic corals, and colorful fish I'd ever seen!  And while I never got to hold a giant blue starfish, I did get to see lots of them in these waters!

After Helicopter Island, we headed back to El Nido and I ran over to my favorite internet cafe before meeting some friends for dinner.  This is Johnathan!  When you're an avid blogger, you get to know your internet cafe managers pretty well!  He was a really sweet guy, who always welcomed me with a smile!   When I would download pictures, he and his assistant would always be secretly looking over my shoulder!  They were enthralled with my pictures!  haha

After uploading pictures, I ran down the beach to meet John, Jess, and Adam for our 7:00pm dinner date...  I spotted this picture in the sand, done by a local Philippino 5 or 6 year old, and had to stop to snap a picture!

Dinner with John, Jess, and Adam was great!  We ate at Blue Azul and talked life and travels!  Everyone I've met has talked about how I just jump right into getting to know people by asking lots of questions... so far though, no one has said they don't like it!  :)  I can't help it... I like to REALLY get to know people!  I've been told quite a few secrets on this trip, and have had a few people tell me, "I've never told anyone that!  It feels so good to get it off my back!"  Maybe I'm in the wrong career!  Psychology may be a good line of work for me!

After dinner, I headed back over to Ric Sons, my favorite place to be at night!  The candlelit tables on the sand lined with tiki torches are a great way to end the day here in El Nido!  Having Mike and Junie playing guitar in the background isn't too bad either! :)

Junie, Me and Janice!

Me and the Ric Son's band!
My last night in El Nido was bitter sweet!  It was sad to say goodbye to everyone, but nice to feel so loved!  Mike and Junie dedicated 3 songs to be throughout the night:

JOHN MAYER: Say, which Mike knows is my favorite song he sings!
PINK FLOYD: We Don't Need No Education, which was funny, considering my job! I got on stage and changed the lyrics to "We all need an education!"  It was a real crowd pleaser!  haha
U2: With or Without You

The whole gang - from left to right: 
Martin (the head tour guide at Ric Sons- great guy!  If you ever go to El Nido, get a hold of this guy and book al your tours through them!  They are the best!)
Junie (an El Nido local, and bass player at Ric Sons!)
Me (You all know me!)
Janice (Mike's girlfriend and the most beautiful Philippino girl I've ever seen!)
Walter (Originally from the US, but traveled to El Nido with his son and never left!  He was my neighbor at Dara Fernandez, and plays guitar with the Ric Son's band.)
Noa (Originally from Israel... but she's been living in a beachfront home with a local family in El Nido for the past 2 months!)

Everyone came out that night to be with me on my last night!  I was honored!  Noa got up and did a really nice toast to me, and all my new friends toasted together!  

I'm blessed to have met such great people who I bonded with right away!

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