Monday, January 31, 2011

One of the Coolest Experiences of My Life

Those of you who know me may not believe this, but I swear it is true, I have risen early every day since we have been in the Philippines; most days before 6:00am.  This morning we are sitting on the balcony, the sun has risen and we are deciding on our activities over the next couple of days.  Mr. Man wants to relax—interpretation: sit on the beach and do nothing—and I want to snorkel, island hop, hike, snorkel some more… you get the picture.  We compromise by making sure there is plenty of relaxation time in-between activities.  I happen to look back toward the beach hoping to spot a small egret that has been fishing in the shallow water the last couple of mornings, when I see a couple of monkeys—yep, your read that right, monkeys—on the beach!  I rush to grab my camera and take a couple quick shots before heading out for a closer look.

This guy parked himself between me and the females/babies
and I thought, "No problem dude, message received."
After breakfast we snorkel at MIR and watch the Jack Fish being fed from underwater.  I bought a disposable underwater camera yesterday afternoon, but won’t be able to post those pictures until after having them developed—does anyone still develop film anymore?  There are plankton in the water this morning, which sting my arms (and even my ears) slightly.  We hang out at the beach and then at 1:00pm we take a boat over to Lagen (another El Nido Resort) for a late lunch and hike. 

Lagen Island Resort
Lagen is beautiful, shaded, tropical, and lush; it is much newer than Miniloc and has a pool, but little beach and the view is nowhere near as awe inspiring. The lunch buffet is the same: some sort of sushi, soup (today Hot and Sour), salad, build your own stir-fry, grill (hot dogs and hamburgers), rice, etc. After lunch we go on the nature hike that begins behind the resort, up, down, up again, then down, to the beach on the other side of this small island.

Banana Palm
Thankfully there is a rope railing the entire trail as some areas are pretty steep and the rope is useful for hoisting yourself up or steadying yourself when going down—did I mention that I am doing this in flip flops?— we have hopes of seeing some wildlife along the way.  The thing of most interest are the Ceiba Pentandra (sometimes called Silk Cotton Tree) trees.  The roots of these trees are huge and flat rather than round.

Ceiba Pentandra
I know this picture is horribly out-of-focus, but I wanted to
show the height of the roots of this tree
There is not much wildlife, although something runs down the mountain in front of us, a monitor lizard perhaps. This begins to seem like our only “near” sighting when I happen to look up and see a monkey in a tree over our heads. I’m equally excited about this “natural” sighting as I was at seeing the monkeys on the beach this morning, who were looking for food—one of the MIR staff members told us that sometimes the monkeys will jump on your table looking for a handout.

Long-tailed Macaque Monkey
(Lagen Nature Trail)
The trail ends at a private paradise…there is no one else there except a Filipino whose job it is to radio Lagen that we are ready to be picked up by boat and transported back to the resort. We take a quick dip to refresh ourselves. There are two turtle nests on this beach which are being monitored and are covered with chicken wire cages to keep the monitor lizards from digging up and eating the eggs.

From here to eternity...

We take a quick dip in the pool at Lagen Resort and enjoy a beer before being picked up and taken back to Miniloc.

To see more pictures, check out my Picasa Web Album

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