After some time in El Nido I realized I really did need to bite the bullet and go island hopping. A side effect of cooking for oneself and eating in is not meeting anyone to share costs with for such activities. One of the most popular questions I kept getting was “Have you seen any of the islands yet?” or “Which one is your favourite.”
Aside from that, finding a place called home means more than sitting in cottage writing a book. I can’t very well try to live in a place and not explore it, I know this already. At least be able to reference things a little better when meeting people and not seem like a complete new comer to the area.
Keeping in mind I’m not a fan of Island life, I find all this a bit of a contradiction. But, I am trying to prove a bit of point to myself and others as noted previously in this travel journal.
Anytime I did go out to meet with people interesting in exploring they only seemed interested in scuba diving, period. I needed an old tact. Make friends with the locals, other than my immediate neighbours … but be sure to tell them you are broke!
That’s exactly what I told a local boat man by the name of Rex. Most evenings I spend sitting out on an old stone wall looking on at the great sunsets. On many an occasion Rex would pass by on this way back either with tourists or taking a short cut home. He asked once if I wanted a tour. I told him I was alone.
“Private hire 2,500.”
“I can’t even afford 500 my friend.”
And so the conversations grew each time he passed by.
“You have money.”
“Yes, but if I give that much to you, then I will have none.”
“You go to your place and make more, come back!”
I laughed and mentioned my search for home. And so Rex stopped, looked at my map and asked the usual questions.
“So you just here writing a book? You sell it and make a lot of money!”
“Not these days Rex,” I replied. “Times are different, it’s all commercial marketing now.”
It meant nothing to him. I was still just like all the other tourists in the area.
Then, unexpectedly Rex showed up in the morning. He had made a deal with some foreigners to take them out to an island everyday, leave them there baking in the sun, and then come back in the evening. He said I could come along on the days they passed by different islands, take photographs and write about them.
It was an opportunity not to be missed.
The couple were an old English pair who’s idea of tropical bliss was laying out on a different island beach every other day. They just thought I was paying Rex to take me to a different island on a tour similar to them.
After depositing the couple on one of the tiny outcrops of islands around El Nido we headed over to the nearby lagoon island. The water was about as clear as I’ve ever seen. Large clear jellyfish bobbed up and down around our little boat as Rex tried to make me swim into a hidden outcrop. Not exactly fun. But Rex had no issues in swiping up the jelly fish and throwing them further out to sea.
“Next time we go to Cathedral cave.”
And so it was that I had somehow made my first Filipino friend in El Nido.
Cathedral Cave (video)