Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Philippines: Part 7: Swimming with Wale Sharks in Donsol.

Sheila kindly drove me to the airport as I had an early morning flight to Legazpi.

"Have a great time, Adam," Sheila said, with a hint of sadness in the tone of her voice.

"Thanks, I responded, "And I'll see you in a week."

After we exchanged hugs I exited the car.

I was waiting in line to enter the airport only a few minutes before I noticed Farid and Jennifer exiting their taxi across the street. I waved to them, signaling my whereabouts. Back in Baguio, I invited the both of them to join me to Donsol. They agreed. It's always great to travel with a camaraderie of friends.

"I can't believe you saw us from over here," Jennifer said, as we stood in line. "One of the benefits of being tall, I guess, huh?"

It was great to be back with the gang again. Too bad the French couldn't have joined us, I thought. But I'm sure they were having a blast in Boracay.

The flight from Manila to Legazpi was quick and painless. During the flight, Farid nudged me and said to look out the window as we were flying over Mt. Mayon, a 2451 meter volcano. It literally took me a few seconds to comprehend that I was starring at the side of a volcano. It was as if my brain couldn't register it. Weird.

After we arrived in Legazpi and walked outside of the airport, we were instantly surrounded by drivers who wouldn't leave us alone. As we really didn't have a plan, we decided to discuss it over breakfast at the local cafe. In the end, we hired a driver to take us to a pretty view point of Mt. Mayon, then drive to Donsol. I pretty much slept the entire way to Donsol as I was sleepy due to the lack of sleep I had received the previous night.

After we arrived in Donsol we began searching for cheap accommodation. We eventually found a decent place located up the street from the tourist information center, ran by a guy named June. Initially, I was a bit skeptical about June and his motives, but he turned out to be just an amazingly friendly and accommodating person. Shout out to Junebug!

Since we decided to see the whale sharks the following day, we had a day of rest and relaxation. That night, however, June took the 3 of us on his tricycle to view the incredible firefly phenomenon. We were simply awestruck as we watched thousands upon thousands of enchanting fireflies twinkling, which brightened the trees along the river. Definitely a highlight.

The following day was the big day: the day we would attempt to see the whale sharks. Initially, the water was a bit choppy as we headed out to sea. After about an hour or two without seeing any whale sharks, I began to get worried.

Just then . . .

"Over there! Over there!" our spotters hollered.

The boat began to accelerate and everyone began putting on their equipment, i.e. flippers and snorkels.

"Jump! Go! Go! Go!" our spotters shouted at us, as everyone began leaping into the wavy sea.

Because I was having difficulties with my snorkel I was the last one to jump off the boat, thus, I was playing catch up as I tailed behind swimming. As I approached the group, I noticed our spotter signaling to me to look down. When I looked under water, I noticed an enormous whale shark approaching me! It literally swam underneath me. And the giant beast was moving slow, too, allowing us to swim along side of it for a minute. It was majestic.

This happened twice! I felt so lucky to have witnessed such an amazing creature.

Back at the hotel that night, as I was reaching into my pockets for something, I pulled out a recipe.

"Hmmm...?" I hummed.

"What's up?" Farid inquired.

"This recipe was in my pocket, and I don't recall what it was for?"

"Let me see it," Farid requested. "It's a local bus receipt, I think?"

"That's weird. I've never used a bus on this date."

"Wait a minute," I continued, "I turned my clothes into the laundry cleaners that day. Usually I drop and pick up my laundry on the same day; however, the last time I dropped them off I didn't pick them up until the following night."

"Someone was wearing your clothes!" Farid yelled.

"Oh my God," I said, in disbelief. But that's a breach in laundry-cleaner's code, I jokingly thought to myself.

"It's like that episode of Seinfeld!" continued Farid. We all began to laugh hysterically. Man, I swear, everything always turns into an episode of Seinfeld.

The following morning I would leave for the island of Samar. My friend from the States, Stephanie, has family who lives in a small village there and said I was more than welcome to stay with them as her family would be happy to host me. Sounded like an adventure. I was in.

After I said my final goodbyes to Farid and Jennifer, I hopped on the back of June's motorcycle.

VROOOOM! Vroom, Vroom, Vroom, Vroom, Vroom, Vroom . . .

"Well, guys," I said, attempting to sound all dramatic, "Until next time . . ."

Immediately after I said this the engine went dead.

Wah, wah, wahhh.

"Dammit." I mumbled. Farid and Jennifer began to laugh.

June fired her up again.

"Let's try this again," I laughingly said, "Until next time . . ." And I drove off, waving.

Success.

Next Stop: Samar Island

-Adam

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