When faced with death or unwelcome endings, it’s a reminder to take some time, get tf out, and go live. This time round, to grieve my late grandma and give in to impulse, I’m ticking a destination off of my dive bucket list. Namely, the island of Malapascua, in the Philippines. Well known by avid divers the world over and home to the Thresher Shark.
The days leading up to my departure played host to a bridal shower, an 8 hour train ride, a funeral, tears, misplacement of a mobile phone and a plane ride. By the time I should’ve been on my way to the airport, I’d just gotten home from gym and was still on my bedroom floor, packing. Amazingly, thanks to some “need for speed” inspired highway cantering, I made the flight.
42K is my seat on the plane. Blessed with the special silence and personal space associated with having no other passengers in my row, I convert the 3 seats into a bed.
The exit row in front of me, packed. I notice the exit door, the handles and instructions written next to it. The day dream commences… mid flight, the exit door is disengaged, I’m gripping onto the handles as it’s sucked out. I surf the sky, riding the door to the ocean below. At sea, I float on that exit door, using my toes as bait to catch fish. Burnt to a crisp, I use seaweed to cover myself… and we’ll leave the weird inner workings of my mind at that.
Touchdown in Manila. Waiting for my next flight, the horizon burns orange, and I finally book a hostel in Cebu City… so far, my itinerary for this trip was fast and loose, with only 2 objectives. One, diving… the other (a recent fling)… ahhhhh hadn’t spoken to me in 4 days.. It was an easy choice. Me, a thousand times me, undeviating and diving in Malapascua.
An hour plane ride later and I’m in another one of the 7641 islands making up the Philippines. Cebu! In bound to my hostel, it’s dark and rainy… as per the conversation with the taxi driver… let’s call him, Tim. Tim quizzes me, “where is your bf? Is he asleep at home?”. I replied, “oh, he could be anywhere”. Tim says, “You travel alone. That is brave”. Right now I’m wondering…. Am I going to get raped or rolled here? I’ve already sized up the taxi driver, scanning the vehicle for possible weapons & a way out. Tim is small in stature. From the back seat, I’d be able to either put him in a headlock and choke him out with the seatbelt, or torture him with a bunch of annoying relationship questions, as he was doing to me. Tim made observations such as, “you will be in a serious relationship when you’re older, in your 30’s”… this guy (insert crying laughing emoji x 5). Bonus round cab quiz questions before reaching the hostel:
- “What are you looking for in a bf?”
- “Do you prefer white or black (men)?”
Tis both frustrating and presumptuous, for taxi Tim (like so many other foreign men), to think all a single woman aspires for in life, is to find a man.
Well, I’m here, a filo-fucking-pino pastry.
The hostel was the saddest place I’d laid my head down to sleep and equally as sad to wake up in. The dorm is empty, the hostel is lifeless and the shower was cold. The cold shower is the positive part of this experience. Laying here, staring at the bottom of the bunk bed above me, a few drops of reality perspire from my eyes and down my cheeks. Saying goodbye to the ones you love/care for is inevitable, and out of our control… letting them go… my greatest struggle.
The escape from the sad ass hostel in Cebu City, to Malapascua, is now set. It’s a 4-5 hour car ride from Cebu City to Maya Port. All of 10 minutes into the car ride, I find out:
- how poverty stricken the country is;
- the car has no lumbar support; and
- it’s wet season in the Philippines.
Clearly didn’t plan this trip well… ok, fine, I barely planned it at all.
Passing through stretches of coastal towns, it’s like watching a movie in fast forward. Between the procession of palm trees and rusted, corrugated iron houses decorating the coastline, I catch glimpses of what lies beyond… Flickers of big blue, teasing my eyes, salting my lips, and pulling at the part of me belonging to what lay across it. Suddenly the tree line evaporates and the landscape opens up. I press pause. There she is… All that divides and unites. I’ve never been a strong swimmer, yet here I am, at her door once more, prepared to dive in, with all I am, and all I might be.
From Maya Port, it’s a 30 minute boat ride to the island. Daylight has faded by the time I wash up on the sandy, coral crushed shores of Malapascua Island. Honey, I’m home.