"The friendliest people on earth at 101"
A damp rain welcomed me to the balcony of 101 Guest House, backpack tightly fixed, thoughts on the journey ahead, a slight notion of dread at the prospect of saying goodbye to the people who had made the time here so enjoyable.
The pick-up truck lumbered up the sand path, a huge plastic tarp ready to shield our bags from the onslaught of the heavens. Inside the car the radio spewed out more brainless anthems with stolen bass-lines and lyrics to turn the stomach. Coincidentally, the two Americans (the man very well behaved after a telling off by his girlfriend) who were destined to be our companions for the next day or two mentioned in passing "Whatever happened to the Black Eyed Peas, they used to be SOOOO good". I suppressed a conceited laugh.
We arrived at the airport with time to kill, resisted the temptation of an early morning beer to help speed the process along, waited patiently under the tin roof of the Airport that spread out no further than 40 square meters. After a few moments of confusion and mysterious to-and-fro's on battered walkie talkies a uniformed representative of Cebu Pacific informed us all that due to the slight drizzle our propeller plane was unable to land safely and had turned back to Cebu. The flight would not be rescheduled and we would be forced to wait 4 days for the next one. Alternatively, she informed us, in 25 minutes a ferry would leave from Dapa to Surigao and we could use our plane tickets on the morning flight the next day to Cebu.
Half the crowd dispersed, some opting to wait the 4 days until the next flight, our merry gang of procrastinators only spurred into action by the thought of missing our onward flight on Sunday to Palawan. We poured into a jeep, hurtled through lush forests of palm trees and wide expanses of rice fields, through the charming streets of Dapa down to the Port where the ferry blasted it's final horn allowing us a few precious moments to jump onboard.
The American's (as they will be affectionately referred to) began wild gesticulations about the importance of securing the corner table, being at arms length from the beer bar and sporting the most acceptable views. We hurried onboard, and after a few minutes managed to find the table empty. 4 hours passed in relative haste, watching the perfect islands drift by, fishermen waist deep in the mangroves tangling with nets, abandoned factories with their sad chimneys empty of smoke. All this time with the constant narrative of an American who has had too much to drink and not enough time to process his thoughts belting out random information and wild stereotypes as the noise of the engines did little to dampen his passion.
Surigao was a small blot on the map. A place neither of us had planned to visit and therefore knew nothing about. We checked into the Tavern Hotel and spent a pleasant night in the company of another, vastly more interesting, American who had spent 16 years traveling the Philippines as a Pilot and land investor. Apart from his insider knowledge of which airlines to fly and those to avoid (based on safety standards that he was part of regulating) he also gave us advice on buying land on Siargao and a list of contacts who would prove useful. The night ended in typical Philippino fashion: at a bar, with San Miguels and a plate of Calamansi while a dolled up trio of women sang their hearts out to the Karaoke machine tucked away in the corner.
The Bitter Man
A backpacker by default since birth, have scanned almost 100 countries in the search for perfection and imperfection in equal measure.