Sunday, March 27, 2011

[CARAMOAN] Off to Caramoan!

Caramoan is a peninsula made famous by its beautiful beaches and the various versions of Survivor that have chosen it as a venue for their show: France, Israel, Bulgaria, and Sweden among them, to name a few. Before I have come and gone there were already rumors that a handful of islands would be closed starting April 2011 to be used for two consecutive seasons of Survivor US. The beaches here far exceed their already notorious reputation. Even under the rain I was awestruck by their beauty and I know it would have been paradise had the sun decided to join us. And no, I am not exaggerating.

Sleep came early that evening because travel time the next day was at 4 AM. All I knew was that there were vans leaving as early as 3 AM going to Sabang. I was eying the 4:30 AM trip if ever there was one. There was none. The first one left before four. Our trip left ten to five, meaning I was not able to catch the 5:30 AM boat ride to Caramoan at San Jose Port. We arrived at Caramoan by 9:30 after taking the 7 AM trip that left 30 minutes late due to lack of passengers.

Just a tip: the first van from Naga (in front of SM, NOT at the Central Terminal) to San Jose Port at Sabang Beach leaves at four in the morning and at times even earlier if it gets filled fast. Having said that, me arriving at 4:10 meant catching the second trip, which left at ten to five. Lesson learned? If you have already decided to wake up early, might as well do it even earlier for the effort not to go to waste.

The van driver kept on touching the rosary by the wind shield and making the sign of the cross. I respect religious beliefs regardless of my own but it just got me a bit worried. Was he just overtly religious or was the road dangerous? The road was well paved although at the beginning of the journey it was quite dark. It was just 5 AM after all. I surveyed the scene, no cliffs. There were just fields of rice left and right. Good to know that at least we won't be having a "Look, a cliff! Waaaahhh!" moment.

We arrived at a windy San Jose Port and the van got swarmed by men in red shirts. At first I thought they were asking for food (Meron kayong pagkain?) and then I realized they were actually asking if we had baggage (Meron kayong bagahe?). The sun was shining but the waves at the port were rather unruly because of the strong breeze. I had to double my shirt to battle the cold.

It took a while to fill the boat and it was already 7:30 AM when we left. The trip to the port took an hour and fifteen minutes, which meant an hour of waiting seated on the hard wooden bench of the boat. Add another two hours for the boat ride and you are done. Word of advice: bring a small throw pillow or wear Pampers. Anything soft would do just to cushion your butt. You can go to Caramoan from Naga through land but the journey is longer and the road, more dangerous.

It was raining hard when we arrived at Guijalo Port. Sure, the wonderful view of coastal Camarines Sur was really a sight to behold but being displaced from my place by the window meant bad news for taking pictures. Add the drizzle which made it totally impossible to take anything because of the mandatory drawing down of the cover to keep us all from getting wet.

It took some time before the tour guide from Rex Tourist Inn could find me because I just sat there by the terminal without directing a word to anyone. It was like a deliberate game of Hide and Seek. I was like, "You have to find me in this crowd, hee hee hee." I'm such a moron. Anyway I already had a clue that we wouln't be able to maximize my 2D/1N package because of the weather. Come on, Bicol. Why this rain in the summer? After arriving at the Rex Tourist Inn, I just had a quick lunch and we were off to our wet island hopping adventure.

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