Tuesday, May 20, 2014

By gum, we DO live on an island!

So that might seem like a funny title but it is really hard to tell that we live on an island.  There are buildings and roads and people everywhere we look.  All of the beach areas are owned by resorts.  These resorts are behind high walls and gates so us commoners can't see in.  We do cross the ocean each time we drive across the bridge to Cebu but it really just feels like a big river.  (no beaches in sight, nothing)  One of the big let-downs for the kids and I was not being near the ocean.  One of the things we really wanted to do was to live on an island by the ocean.  Well . . . as far as we could tell, we were just in the middle of a city.

We decided that we really needed to fix this.  We found out that many of the resorts would sell a day pass so that you could use their beach, pool, etc.  We found one that wasn't terribly expensive (600 pesos each (about $13) and decided to give it a try.  Russ had to work and so it was just the kids and me.

We agreed as we left that we weren't sure how this day would pan out but we were just going to roll with whatever came. 

We rode a tricycle out to the main highway. The first thing we needed to do was to get some cash from the ATM because we weren't sure if we could use a visa at the resort. So we went to a small strip mall that had 3 ATMs. I tried the first ATM but it wouldn't give me money. Hmmmm. Then I tried the second ATM. It wouldn't give me money either. Grr . . . Finally I tried the 3rd. It wouldn't give me any money. I told the kids that there might be something wrong with our bank accounts and I couldn't get cash. We just had enough money to get to the resort and to get home (barely). I told them we could try going to the resort and see if they would accept a visa so that we could still go in. If not we would head home. We decided to risk the resort. The resort took our visa and we got in!

Waiting at the strip mall while I try for cash.

Our first view of the beach.

However, when we walked down to the beach it was pretty disappointing. it was about 50 feet wide. (What you can see in the first picture is all that there was) The water that we could get to was filled with seaweed and rough rocks at the bottom. The "beach" was trucked in sand for the resort. When we waded out to the end of our resorts roped off area, it was about to my waist. I thought "man this is a total bust!) We splashed a little in the water and watched a parasailer in the distance and the kids just looked at me like "now what?"

They look pretty bored and we've been there about 20 minutes.

A local man approached and said that for 2500 pesos he could take us out on his boat to a place where we could snorkel and see lots of fish and coral. He had all the equipment. Of course I had no cash with me. But the thought of spending our whole day at this dismal little beach was pretty discouraging. I kept saying "I don't think I can" and he kept dropping his price. Finally when he hit 1200 pesos, I told him that I didn't have any cash. He told me that he could take me to an ATM. I agreed to meet him at the front gate and he would take me to an ATM that was "very near". The kids just stayed and played in the pool. I put a t-shirt over my swimsuit and headed out. He met me at the gate of the resort and hailed a tricycle for us. He proceeded to take me to the same ATM that I had been to before. It still didn't work. I told him that I couldn't get any money. I had to pay the tricycle driver my last money. Yikes! Now we didn't even have cash to get back to our house. Mario (my new Filipino friend/escort) said he would take me to another ATM. I told him that I had NO money left. He said, "it's ok, I'll pay". He got us on another tricycle and we rode clear to the mall I usually shop at. I went in to the mall and the ATM there worked fine and I finally had some money. (I'm doing all this in my swimsuit with a t-shirt over it. Darling I'm sure!) We got back to the resort at last and I paid the tricycle driver. The kids were relieved to see me return. :-)

The small boat on the front left of the picture is the kind of boat we went on.

We got ready and went out on the boat. It was an outrigger canoe with a sun shade over us. They took us out about 200 yards to a dive dock. They had a roped off area for diving and snorkeling.

We are finally heading out!

We are all pretty excited.

They geared us up and we got in.

Isn't she so cute?

Snorkeling always blows my mind because you are sitting looking at ocean that seems pretty boring.  Then you put your mask on and see SO MUCH!

We had a underwater camera case for Hannah's camera and she took most of these photos.  It was SO cool.  Unfortunately, the camera can't pick up the colors under the water for lack of light.  So everything just looks blue and green.  Actually, the coral was all different colors (pink, blue, red, gray, tan)  The fish were also bright colored.

Hannah and Joshua taking a break.  That is our boat behind them.

Joshua while snorkeling.

It was hard to get Ammon's face mask tight enough to keep the water out.  He just kept going back for more though.  Here I'm sitting on the dive dock adjusting his mask.

A picture of the coral.  I wish you could see the colors!

There was a scuba diver feeding the fish below us.

Joshua and I snorkeling.

The diver got an extra air hose and offered to take Mattie down with him.  He swam around with her and let her touch coral and fish and see lots of things.  

She brought this starfish up with her!  Then he took Hannah down and did the same thing.

This picture captures the delicacy of the coral even if it doesn't capture the colors.

Hannah's facemask marks!  :-)  Mario (our guide) is behind Hannah.

They caught a small striped fish and put it in a pop bottle for the kids.  (We ended up releasing it before we went home)

They also found this cool starfish for the kids to hold.  It was amazing to hold these live starfishes.

After our snorkeling, we went back to the resort.  We were all starving.  We had a 200 peso credit each to spend at the restaurant (part of our admission price).  We enjoyed a nice lunch and then played in the pool for awhile.  Then we of course did the requisite "bury someone in the sand" part of playing on the beach.  

The boys loved it.

This is the resort pool looking out toward the ocean.

Finally it was time to head home.  We were all tired, sunburned, and satisfied.  We took one last look at the ocean and headed back to real life.  It surely is nice to know that we DO live on an island!

 Post script.  We got Mario's phone number because he says we can work with him directly to go snorkeling again.  (we don't have to pay the exorbitant fee for the resort) We would like to go again when Russ can go.  Mario also has a larger engine boat that he uses to go to a nearby island (Olongo island).  He will take us there to snorkel and says we will see more and bigger sea life.  We will definitely call him again!

1 comment:

LizzyBaird said...

We went snorkeling when we went to Hawaii but it was kinda a bust, yours looks so amazing! I can only imagine how beautiful it was, probably like finding nemo but real life