Sitting on the bus back to Cebu… Minivan actually, and quite a nice one, supposed to be faster than the bus, although he’s driving erratically in only first gear so who knows.
Sal is sitting next to me, head in her lap with eyes closed trying not to feel sick. She woke up this morning covered in red spots again. I read that in the final stages of dengue you get another itchy rash and then your whole body peels… She looked horrified when I passes on that little gem.
There’s bad 80’s pop playing on the stereo, a bit too loud for me, but the Fillipino’s love it. Karaoke is huge here, and everyone sings.
‘Touching the night… It feels like heaven…’ more synthesiser
Now we’ve stopped for some reason. Sal’s getting pissed off… It’s going to be a long day.
To get this far, we’ve already caught a small boat to a big boat to cross between islands, then another small boat to shore as it’s low tide so the big boat couldn’t come close to shore.
Van now stopped at the bus station. People routinely pile out and stand around outside as though we won’t be leaving for a while, then the driver ushers everyone back on, and we wait in the bus another ten mins before everyone gets off again. This seems to be normal.
Oooh we’re moving… Nope we’re not.
Anyway last time I wrote we had just missed the last boat to Malapasqua and so had to stay in Maya, the port town. Port towns are always a bit shit and this one was no exception.
Now we’re moving, but in the wrong direction.
So in Maya we got a cheap but still disproportionately crap room, full of bugs, no fan, 2 single beds. There wasn’t much to choose from so it had to do, but Sal had a fever of 39.5 so we insisted the guy who gave us the room should find a fan…
He initially tried to steal one from his auntie (after she fell asleep) but that didn’t wash, and the only other thing he could find was the type of fan people used to screw to a car dashboard, about 10cm in diameter… Brilliant.
‘Boom boom boom lets go back to my room, so we can do it all night and you can make me feel right…’
Next morning we headed to the port bleary eyed and waited for a boat. At which point it occurred to me to ask whether there were any ATM’s on the island…
‘No bank or ATM on Malapasqua’
‘OK so where is the closest one?’
‘It’s about 40km away in Bogo city. ‘ ‘WTF?? That will take a couple of hours!’
‘You take moto taxi, very fast 45mins, 200 pesos one way.’
I smelled a rat. A moto guy telling me I needed to travel 45mins to get to the nearest bank… I politely declined and went into the nearest store to ask the shopkeeper where I could find a bank.
‘In the next town, you take jeepni, 12 pesos, only 5 mins’
The moto guy hadn’t taken no for an answer, and followed me into the shop. At this point he started arguing with the shopkeeper, who then told me that he said the ATM down the road was broken, by the look on her face it was clear she didn’t believe him.
Flashdance is now playing… What a feeling!!
We laughed and said we’d try the close one first. 5 mins later with wallets full of pesos we were leaving the bank when the same moto guy rolled around the corner hoping the ATM was broken and we’d need to go further… Asshole.
We offered him a pittance to take us back to Maya, and then took a bus back.
But nothing is simple… at the port we found a boat ready to leave but were told that it was too late to get on that boat. We needed to wait for another. The boat wasn’t full by half, and was still tied on so we couldn’t see why we needed to wait another hour.
‘One night in Bangkok makes a hard man crumble…’
If you know Sal very well you’d know she doesn’t have a very long fuse, and by this stage things were getting quite heated.
‘What’s wrong with this boat?’ She demanded
‘Too late, you take next boat’
‘No no no this boat is just fine!!’ and she scrambled down a pile of slippery boulders and across the narrow 2m long plank of wood onto the boat.
I was laughing hard but followed trying not to fall over and took a seat wondering what would happen next.
With Sal still glaring at them, there was some discourse between the captain and the guy on the pier, ending with the captain shrugging his shoulders as if to say ‘they’re on now, what am I supposed to do?’
In the end the pier guy took half the fare and the captain got the rest.
Now playing ‘Boys boys boys, hoping for a food time…’
After all that Malapasqua was really great. We found accommodation quickly, beach front for $24, and lined up some diving for the next two days.
The view from our room.
Sal’s fever came back down that night so she dived without any problems, the diving was pretty average but we had fun nonetheless. We found a nice Spanish bar on the beach and some local BBQ to eat next door and passed our time under the water and on the beach. Pretty hard going 😉
One of the dive highlights at Malapasqua is seeing Thresher Sharks, a very rare species with a really long tail fin, as long as the rest of the shark combined, which it uses to whip around and hit a fish it wants to eat. They live much deeper than we can dive, but in some rare places they come to the shallow to be cleaned by other reef fish at dawn, before the sun gets too high as their big eyes are sensitive to the sunlight. We got up at 4am for that dive…
So it’s 5am, still almost dark and I’m 30m below the surface of the sea, kneeling down on a rocky bottom hoping to see a shark. The visibility is really poor, maybe 5m so it’s easy to lose your dive group, and with another 50 people in the same area it’s chaos.
Someone kicks me in the head moving my regulator and my mask floods, I resist the urge to PANICK and control my breath, reset the mask and clear it again… ‘What the fuck am I doing down here!?’
‘Sweets for my sweet, sugar for my honey…’
Our group move away from the masses and the dive master puts us on another ledge, I’m wondering how much longer we can stay so deep, at 30m we are absorbing 4 x as much nitrogen into our blood as we should be, and more than 15mins is a risk for decompression sickness.
I’m still having a bit of a ‘WTF are we doing here moment when the guide excitedly points into the blue and one of the sharks appears, swims across us, turns and disappears again.
The guide seems pleased and we ascend to finish the dive in the shallow, where we’re treated with 3 eagle rays gracefully circling above us for ten minutes, really cool! We’re back on the shore before 7am, tired but happy.
Which brings me back to the bus trip…
‘You’re a woman I’m a man, this is more than just a game, i can make you feel so right, be my lady of the night’…
The 80’s have a lot to answer for.