(So it seems I’ve fallen into my old habit of not updating my blog again. I know at this point you won’t be buying whatever excuse I make so I’m just going to get right to it.)
Caramoan has never really been in my list of must-visit places, to be perfectly honest. To me, Caramoan is what fries are are to an ice cream place: you don’t really go there for it because the place is known for better options, but it’s nice to know you have it around in case you ever want it. But this French fry gained popularity when Survivor filmed a season there, and I have to admit, it’s what piqued my interest in the first place. I’m a sucker for nice beaches, so this seemed like a good place for my last hurrah for the summer.
I decided to book a three-day, two-night solo joiner tour for myself (for those who are unfamiliar, a joiner tour is when a travel agency fills a van to capacity with solo travelers and small groups of tourists who are going to the same destination at the same time–kind of like commuting, only you don’t get the satisfaction of knowing you will never see those people again–as opposed to an entire group of friends and family members who rent a whole van for themselves). At 9PM on a Thursday, I went to the rendezvous, where I found out the agency had two vans of joiners headed to Caramoan that weekend. The driver told me I could sit shotgun since I was the only one traveling alone, and that was fine with me. I slumped into the seat, stuck my earphones in, and napped until we hit the road.
I knew it was going to be a long trip. What I didn’t know was how bad it was going to be. Imagine traveling on a convoluted road where every couple of feet is broken-up pavement. Now imagine that taking at least two hours. Bouncing around and weaving left to right, it was like being in one of the shittiest rides in the shittiest amusement park in the world. So about that estimated 10-hour trip? Keep dreaming. We left Manila at 9PM and, after multiple bathroom stops and that ungodly stretch of road, got to Caramoan at around 2PM the next day.
After a lunch stop at this place called Don Miguel Cafe, where the trip’s official tour guide met with us, the other van’s driver asked me to ride in his van since my lodging would be the same as that of the passengers in that van. It was kind of like a ransom trade where neither party wins or loses. Then the nightmare started: the friendly tourists in this van started talking to me. Anyway, we were brought to the place where we would be staying for the entire trip, and the tour guide gave us a few minutes to check in, get changed, and meet him back at the van for the first leg of the tour. It was then I realized I’d be stuck with these chatty tourists for the rest of the trip. Great.
For the island-hopping tour, we were asked to rent snorkel gear and aqua shoes (I had my own, though), and to buy bread for the fish feeding. Then it was off via boat to Matukad Island, said to be the most popular of the lot. It was then that I started feeling more uncomfortable because the other tourists wouldn’t stop talking to me when all I really wanted to do was sit quietly by myself. God, I missed the people in the first van, where the other tourists and I ignored each other in silent bliss. (Just to be clear in case this is your first time reading one of my entries, I don’t handle social situations very well, so it’s more of an “It’s not you; it’s me” situation rather than an “I hate everybody” one.)
Matukad Island was crawwwling with people; I swear it felt more like a city fair than an island getaway. The place I really wanted to see was the supposed mysterious hidden lagoon. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go because a) the traffic up and down the peak overlooking the lagoon was nonstop, and b) our time on the island was limited. Never mind that. I settled for taking photos while waiting for the others to get back to the boat for the next island.
Next up was… honestly, I’d already forgotten. I mean, the view of monolithic limestones rising from the water was still kind of awe-inspiring as we skipped from one island to another, but I feel like El Nido ruined me for other similar-looking seascapes. For the rest of the day, I mostly took photos and did do a bit of swimming. I was actually glad when the tour guide said it was time to head back to the main land.
Before going back to the lodging (I’m thinking it was around 6, 6:30 by then), we went to Don Miguel (I sensed a trend that this was going to be the regular stop for food during the trip and was proven right later on) so people could put in their dinner orders. The plan was to go back to the inn to wash up, and then go back to the food place, where their orders would be waiting. I felt like I had spent enough time that day being around people, so I told the guide I wouldn’t be joining them. Instead, after taking a bath with practically nonexistent water pressure, I tried to nap away the beginnings of a headache.
I woke up at around 8, peeked outside to make sure the other tourists had gone, headed to a nearby store and bought some form of food. Back in my room, I watched TV and ate, downed some pain killers, and tried to go back to sleep despite the heat (the place kept losing power.)
Nice start to the trip, wouldn’t you say?* So far, I’d say that TV show was pretty accurate; “surviving” rather than “enjoying” would be a more appropriate way to describe my experience so far. Day 2 has got to be better than this.
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