Tuesday, April 30, 2013
When we got there we met with the head volunteer Jordan, from the US, who oriented us with the facility, the children and the staff. We met most of the children, then headed out to the park with some of the older girls. We were there for about an hour, then headed back to meet the other children, who would be waking up from their naps.
Walking back into the building there were adorable children everywhere! I was in heaven, I didn't know which direction to go. We ended up sitting down with some of the toddlers, reading to them, counting with them, playing games, building legos, singing songs, and then we got to hold some of the babies, they were just precious!
Monday, April 29, 2013
Today we headed out to tour Manila, the capital of the Philippines. We quickly found the city to be pretty dirty. There are people sleeping on just about every corner you turn, and there are beggars and hagglers everywhere. The most annoying part of the hagglers is, you say no politely 4-5 times...they will still follow you asking for you to buy something until you say “no” a little louder and more stern.
Everyone says to be very smart and protect your belongings at all times here, which is common sense. The nice thing is, there is security everywhere, and they are very friendly and helpful. They are outside every hotel, convenient store, restaurant, office, mall etc.
We walked over to Rizal Park got caught in a rainstorm there for a bit, then headed over to the old Manila district, to the walled city of Intramuros, built in the 1600's. We walked by San Agustin, which is the country's oldest church, where we watched some of a wedding ceremony. We then continued on and walked by Fort Santiago, Manila Cathedral, then headed over to Manila Bay to watch the sunset and grab some drinks on the water.
Today I woke up hot and annoyed with the rooster, so I went for a dip in the ocean, while the locals were packing up their boats for tours and fishing and the children played on the boats like a jungle gym. It was nice and relaxing being out in the water when the sun was rising and people were getting ready for the work day.
We had our last breakfast on our balcony, and parted ways with one of our favorite stays. We said our goodbyes to the awesome owners at The Alternative, then headed to our shuttle taking us back to Puerto Princesa, to catch a flight to Manila.
We again had a bumpy, uncomfortable 5 hours in the shuttle van, but we also had a local pregnant lady who was about to go into labor and commuting with us, therefore I really didn't have much to complain about. Puerto Princesa is the closest hospital for her, she looked in pain the whole ride, we felt so bad for her.
Once we got to Puerto Princesa, we found out that our flight to Manila was delayed... go figure. Over an hour delay we boarded our flight to Manila and got there in a bit over an hour. We found a place to stay in the popular area of Malate, threw down our stuff and grabbed some dinner at a local spot, where we befriended some local lady boys... surprise.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Today we woke up for the 3rd morning with no electricity, it stayed off for about 6 hours. We are pretty used to it by now, waking up hot and to the loud roosters around 6am. We went back to sleep for a few hours, then grabbed breakfast on the beach. I got paneit canto, which is noodles with vegetables, in a yummy sauce.
Then we walked around town, headed back to our place to just chill out and spend time on the beach/in the water. I have no clue what time it is, and we have no plans for the day... I love it! After a few hours hanging out we decided to get hour full body massages, boy was that worth the $9 we paid!
We watched our last sunset here in El Nido, then headed out to dinner on the beach. We went to a restaurant that had fresh fish to choose from right in front of you, I chose red snapper and Adrienne got grouper. They grill it right there on the beach as well. It was delicious served with rice and veggies.
Today we woke up and headed out on an island hopping tour. Our first stop was big lagoon, with beautiful clear water. Then, we headed to secret lagoon, where you had to slide through a window like rock opening to get to the lagoon inside. After, we headed to a popular snorkeling area, where we saw many colorful fish, huge neon colored clams, gigantic blue starfish, sea urchins and beautiful coral.
It was insane, at one point, I was stationary snorkeling and a school of hundreds of small fish swam by me, all I could see was this cloud of fish shimmering by. We got back on the boat and headed to another snorkeling spot for almost an hour and had lunch on the beach.
After that we headed to small lagoon, where we had to snorkel about 15 minutes, then dive down in the water and slip through a small keyhole opening to the small lagoon inside. Then, we snorkeled over to a water cave, where you had to pull yourself up onto some rocks, swing your legs over and slide back down into the water. Once inside it was really dark, and the water was eerily colder than the outside water temperature. The only light was coming from a small hole opening in the cave a few feet up.
When we were heading back to our boat, another girl and I swam ahead of the group, and encountered some territorial small fish that nipped at our legs and toes. We quickly got back on the boat, and waited for the rest of the group to catch up. After a 7 hour island hopping tour, the boat took us back to the mainland.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Today I was woken at 6am by the sound of the waves, people working on their boats, two roosters and the sun streaming in our window. Any other place this wouldn't have been so bad, but the electricity on the island went out, which happens one or two times a day. That being said, our room was super hot with no way to cool it down but opening the windows, which didn't help with the heat... or the noise.
After going back to sleep for a few noisy, hot hours, we decided to change guesthouses, hoping for a room out of direct morning sunlight and noisy fisherman. We moved down the road to a cute little place, still beach front, with room names wisdom, charity, love, hope, harmony and strength. Guess which room was the only available room... love, go figure. So we dropped off our stuff, grabbed some breakfast on the beautiful terrace overlooking the water, the beauty was overwhelming.
We headed out touring the town a bit, then took a car to a quieter beach about 10 minutes away. We walked about 5 minutes through the jungle, then came to the opening of this beautiful beach with crystal clear water and only a few people there. Just what we were looking for.
We hung out there for most of the day taking dips, sitting under the palm trees, and going for walks, then headed back into El Nido. We grabbed some fresh mango shakes and went back to our place. When we got back the electricity was out again on the island, so we hung out on our terrace, listened to the waves and watched the sunset.
We got some Filipino red horse beers, played cards, then went out for a walk and dinner. When we got back we hung out on our terrace, where there are what they call, "nests," like bird nests overlooking the water and right under the stars. Super chill and relaxing.