Sunshine, turtles and a PADI course

Posted: May 14, 2011 in The Philippines
Tags: , , , , ,

We left the moody clouds of Sipalay gladly behind and rocked on down the coast to Dauin on Monday 9th. At some random village a ladyboy and her gay boyfriend hopped on. She-he decided to make a beeline for me and proceeded to share her-his life story for the next 20mins, much to the amusement of Muneeza and the other passengers. To be fair, she-he was friendly and quite entertaining but I still find it disconcerting to be looking at a person with stubble, man hands and lady bumps. Especially when she-he also has the lower body of a young girl. I’ve got no rub with people having the freedom to embrace their own unique sexuality; I just find the elaborate effeminism of ladyboys slightly odd. Oh well, good luck to her-he and the upcoming move to Bangkok to join the other ladyboys.

We arrived in Dauin early afternoon, hot and sweaty. I had a minor panic on arrival at Mike’s Beach Resort because my main bag was missing from the tricycle. Luckily we traced the route back and found it lying in the middle of the road. People were walking past, looking at it quizzically. I love the honesty here that ensures your possessions are relatively safe from plunder.

Having spent 3 days in a damp beach cabin, our clothes and bags were a bit funky. We were delighted to discover that the resort is new and the rooms all finished to a high quality with proper walls, tiled floors and fresh water shower. It meant we could get clean again. Well it meant I could do the cleaning while Muneeza embraced tropical diving.

Let the diving begin

Muneeza spent Monday afternoon going through the schedule for her PADI Open Water course whilst I lazed around by the pool. Her instructor, Hilary, turned out to be a really cool, easy going Irish lady who has been living here for 4 months with her husband and very cute 3 year old son Thomas. She immediately put Muni at ease and proved to be an excellent and patient teacher. We also loved her Irish humour, which mainly involved ripping it out of me and telling jokes about English oppression.

We got up early Wednesday morning for Muni’s first dive down at the Sanctuary at the far end of Dauin beach. The Sanctuary is a protected area of reef marked by a series of white buoys roped together. I was allowed to tag along and snorkel. The reef was sweet, with lots of bright colours and a good variety of fish. The water was warm and visibility excellent. Muni emerged about 45mins later having successfully descended to 7m sans problem. She took to the diving like a fish to water.

Big fish in the water, Dauin

I passed the time keeping myself entertained with a stick and some sand…..

Natural sand formation, Dauin

I became the admin king for the next 2 days, doing the washing, sorting accommodation out etc as my jani concentrated on her PADI and getting her head round the coursework. Yep, I am dull.

The highlight of the 4 days was a trip out to Apo Island about 1hr south of the mainland. Apo is tiny with only 1,000 inhabitants and no fresh water supply. It’s a diving Mecca with coral fringed coastline and turtle mating beaches drawing the tourist dollar.

Muneeza explored the depths to complete her 3rd and 4th dives, descending to 15m and 18m. I went off with a cool American lady called Connie, whose husband was diving, to do some snorkeling. The first spot was renowned for its Clown Fish City. We searched in vain and whilst we found a place where there were about 20 of these fish close together, we couldn’t find the mother load. We moved on to a second spot before lunch and after about 5mins of swimming around, I saw a large shadow in the distance. I assumed it was a large fish and set off to explore. As I got closer I saw the unmistakable silhouette of a turtle. As the sun emerged from a cloud, the turtle was illuminated in front of me. I followed close behind and it linked up with 2 other turtles. I spent the next 10mins following them, enraptured. It really was a stunning sight. Turtles are beautiful creatures and really elegant in the way they glide up and down in the water.

Turtle power, Apo Island

I waited on the boat to escape the sun and my jani emerged with a big grin on her face having successfully completed her PADI Open Water. I am really proud of her because she isn’t the most confident person in water but put her underneath with an oxygen tank and she’s as calm as you get. Hilary called her a natural, fair praise from an experienced dive master. Or maybe she says that to everyone to give encouragement. Muni loved the 4 days, even though she found the studying hard work at first. There was a genuine sense of camaraderie between the divers and I can see why people get hooked.

Later that evening, whilst my jani lost herself in email world, I got stuck into a heated debate with two American chaps, Mark and Kevin, staying at the resort, essentially a discussion about whether or not the world would be a better place without arms (as in weapons, not your body part). Unsurprisingly GI Joe was pro-gun and I was anti-gun. It was one of those conversations that can only happen when fuelled on booze. One of the guys retired to bed and left me and Mark to carry on until the early hours, arguments augmented by a continuous supply of beer. We never reached an agreement but I enjoyed the mental jostle.

Saturday was lazy day. Unsurprisingly I awoke with a thumping head. Muneeza proceeded to run through what I had said and done when I got back to the room. To some people I am entertaining; luckily Muni is one of those peeps. We spent our last day in Dauin lying in bed watching shit films, ignoring the beautiful sunshine in favour of the darkness. Sometimes you have to do nothing.

Love jamer & muneeza x

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