Rex had mentioned cliff climbing to me.
“No rope, no gear, just climb the cliff.”
I treated his comment with a grain of typical skepticism. The cliff was likely to be a hill, and the rope comment was meant to generate interest or bravado.
I also had a deep desire to reach the top of a place that had been a home in name only for quite some time.
My gut seemed to be telling me something I knew already.
To hire a guide would cost 250 pesos, but it had a minimum or 2 people. Meaning I would either have to pay 500, find a tourist, or go alone. So I took another option …
“Rex, you want a free lunch today?”
It was 2 hours up, 2 hours down. Rex had pointed out the cliff from his boat once. I figured there was a back way up the cliff side that was not so vertical. But no. As we meandered through a local settlement, up over some loose rock and into a forest area we were soon confronted with a vertical cliff face.
The volcanic rock was in truth really easy to climb. It was sharp and very porous; making easy to grip. Much like the volcanic rock I found on one of the islands it also sounded like metal if tapped.
It was 7am when we started. A good time to avoid the suns heat. The surrounding trees sheltered us a little as well. But as soon as we were in a clearing the sun made sure to remind us of its heat.
I was also glad to have strong boots. Even Rex was wearing shoes, something not that common in the Philippines as most simply wear rubber sandals. The rock we were walking on was not smooth either. Sharp outcrops of jagged stone lined are path. The only choice one had was to walk on the topside edge of these formations and balance.
It was easier than it sounded. The porous metallic rock gripped onto my boots with ease and I found I could lean to either side with great flexibility and no fear of toppling over.
A sheer vertical climb was never so easy. I feared ripping my one good pair of combats that I still had. Yet again this amazing rock did not snag at my clothing.
At the very top of the cliff the view was spectacular. All of El Nido was stretched out in front of us as we perched there. El Nido’s little horse shoe look, with it’s blue translucent water and idyllic skyline was a paradise no doubt.
We sat there for longer than expected. Rex was his usual one sided conversational self as I commented on how bad the local biscuits were. I bought them the day before and wondered if a relative of his had made them. Turned out he thought they were bad too.
“I don’t like the bread in the Philippines,” I confessed.
Rex made one of those Filipino grunt noises.
“You make a lot of it here,” I continued. “And it really is bad. Tastes of dry dust.”
Rex laughed and blew out some of the dusty biscuit he was eating.
“Do you eat bread?”
He shook his head.
For all the bakery’s I’ve seen around the Philippines, I’d yet to see a Filipino actually eat bread with a meal.
I finished up our dead conversation with something that always makes a Filipino smile, “Come on, lets get some rice.”
I could have stayed up on top of the cliff a lot longer. But felt a strange obligation to get Rex back to his lunch.
Strange as it seemed, but this climb, the overlooking view of Palawan, and Rex’s continued silence called me to attention. Maybe this was my final conquest in trying to live on an island …
How to connect to the internet when living on an island? Inside tips on how I connect to the internet when traveling
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