I traveled to Coron with Joann Martin, one of my TGC colleagues. We were greeted at the airport with traditional percussion music. We hadn’t really worked out how we were getting to the hotel, so it was nice to walk out and see a van driver holding a sign with Joann’s name on it. On the way to town we chatted with a couple who were teaching school together in Israel. They were visiting the Philippines with a fellow teacher and one of his friends, who we met later at dinner.
We stayed at the Corto Del Mar, a rather nice hotel within walking distance of pretty much everything in Coron. The idyllic setting of our Spanish style hotel was a stark contrast to the city around us. We had a view of the water and islands beyond from our room, but right below our window were shacks made of wood and corrugated metal.
When you plan your travels during monsoon season, you don’t get to complain about the weather. Period. So when tours were cancelled the first day, we walked around, hiked up Tapyas Mountain (actually climbed over 700 stairs), and got massages. Coron has a lot of charm, so it was a good, relaxing day.
Friday was the best. The tour boats were running, but we were sweating it out because there was a delay. We went to Kanyangan Lake, which is the site that you see on all the tourism photos of Coron. It was spectacular. After hiking up a trail for the touristy photo op, we hiked down to a lagoon for snorkeling. It wasn’t the prettiest snorkeling I’ve enjoyed but the water was very refreshing after the hike.
Our second site was Twin Lagoon. We swam from a saltwater cove under an opening in the rock to a freshwater lake. It was interesting because there were hot and cold spots as we swam. When we hit the first cold spot, not far from the boat, Joann joked that everybody had finished peeing. Eeewww! When we got to the point where the fresh water from the lake was meeting the salt water, it took on an oily appearance. You couldn’t really see it from the surface, but it was very obvious with the mask. While we were in the lake area, a rainstorm began. Of course, all the smart alecks (including me) started whining that we were going to get wet. Then one lady yelled, “Oh my god! What is that?!” We turned to see what looked like smoke pouring from the mountain top. My first thought was that a volcano was erupting, but it was just the effect of the torrential rain that pounded us for maybe 5 minutes. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Next we went to a tiny little beach where we had lunch. When I say tiny, it was probably 75 yards from one end to the other and maybe 40 yards deep. There are several natural beach areas lining the limestone cliffs of the mountains. There was a couple there who had apparently hired a private boat. I’m sure they were thrilled when we showed up. Lunch was divine: fish, crabs, roast pork, rice, vegetables, and fresh pineapple. I confess I was thinking that if we were in Jamaica there would have also been rum punch, but you can’t have everything. Next we went to another snorkeling site where there is a sunken Japanese gunboat. I didn’t even see the boat at first because I was watching a variety of fish playing tug-of-war with a banana peel. I was a little freaked out because there were jellyfish about. They are so beautiful in the water (I’ve only seen dead ones washed up on the beach) but I don’t want to be near them. One of our guides grabbed a huge one and pulled it away from us. I’m not sure how he managed that without getting stung. I was mesmerized. This site was where we saw the prettiest fish – mostly little ones striped like zebras and several larger blue ones. At the last site some people went snorkeling again and a few of us went kayaking. There was nobody to go in my boat, so one of the guides went. He seemed to enjoy having me paddle him around. Another tour boat showed up and were delighted to harass him for letting me do all the work. They were speaking Tagalog, but it was very clear what was going on. It started raining again and the temperature dropped, so when it was time to head back we were all pretty funned out, except the lady who put on mascara before swimming all day (no mascara is THAT waterproof). She was so far out that the head guide, who had just put on a dry shirt and was freezing, had to go back in the water to swim after her while we all waited and shivered. There’s always that ONE. Heading in I tried to savor the beauty of our surroundings. Photos can never capture the true beauty and my words can never do it justice.
Thursday the boats were delayed again. I’m not sure if the tour boats got to go out or not. We were lucky to get a window of decent weather at all. I was disappointed that my travel plans got changed, but I knew that was a risk from the beginning. I bought my ticket for the ferry first thing in the morning then had some time to kill. I took another hike to Mt. Tapyas. While there I stopped to chat with some ladies who were resting along the way. They were from Iloilo, where I had just spent 10 days. One of them said, “I think I’ve seen you on Facebook.” It turns out that she knows Pamela, who graciously drive us around during our stay there. What a small world it is!