Tropical Storm, Shmopical Storm
Today, we made our way to Donsol, The Philippines. It’s well-known for the unique opportunity it affords travelers – to swim with 35 foot long wild whale sharks that are luckily more whale than shark.
After arriving by plane in nearby Legazpi, we paid $2 each for our 1 hour ride in an “AC mini-van.” We were a little crammed, both of us in the back row battling for seat-territory with the four bags sitting next to us that continually encroached on our space. We had just about achieved a stalemate when the roof started leaking.
This would probably be a good time to tell you that there is a tropical storm that’s threatening to become a typhoon hitting the Philippines. It began as a drip, turned into a trickle – something had to be done since the car ceiling was not doing it’s job. Some quick work, turned our backpack rain-fly into a drip shield. Problem solved. Tropical storm, shmopical storm.
As we continued our drive, we could hear the screams of children and adults as we passed. Our mini-van driver would chuckle a little each time. The mini-van was creating a 6 foot high wedge of water as it drove through the river that was slowly taking over the road. In one pass, he would drench an entire group of people – but, hey, they were already soaked so ethically I’m pretty sure it was a bit of… wash.
Sasha and I started wondering exactly how this little journey was going to end, since the water seemed to be getting deeper and deeper. We drove by a few dozen flooded houses, some all the way to the roof. On the positive side, all the kids seemed to enjoy playing in the water – this is the dry season after all.
Eventually the road became a river and the mini-van stopped, luckily not in that order. They told us we needed to take a boat. I didn’t have the heart to inform them that “boat” really conjures up a different image than the vessel in front of us presented. While technically a boat, I’d call it a canoe.
We hastily put the laptop in a plastic bag, backpacks in rain covers and donned rain jackets. We got out of the mini-van and stepped into a light rain. The boat was in knee-deep water, so we took of our shoes and socks.
Some shivering teenagers pushed us through waste-high water down what was the road. A guy on a passing boat shouted “Enjoy your vacation!” On the other side, we met a guy with a bandoleer of grenades and a semi-automatic gun. He offered us a ride in his truck. We accepted. We’re pretty sure he was the Philippines equivalent of the national guard.
We arrived safely – albeit a little wet. Now we just need to figure out if we have any hope of seeing the whale sharks with the storm brewing– and how exactly we’re getting out of here.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011 1:15 am EDT