Finally the day has come, we are leaving for our expedition with Buhay Isla. I’ve been looking forward to this since we discovered this trip. We divided our luggage in daybags, nightbags and bags that will go in the cargo hold of our boat. We check out of our hotel and go to the other side of El Nido to buy some items we will need for this trip.
It starts to rain and we run around like crazy to buy a rashguard, sunscreen, batteries and the most important one: some beers. Around 8.45 we arrive at the harbour of El Nido. Here we see the familiar faces of the people we met last night at the briefing.
At 9 o’clock we walk to our boat, a beautiful blue and white one with the typicle floaters. I walk over the gangplank and I am so afraid I am going to fall off it, but miracles do happen and I arrive dry and safe on the boat. The boat has an interior space, a cabin for the captain, a hidden kitchen, a small toilet and a terrace with a sunroof.
We take place in the boat (still a little awkward) and our guide Darryl is giving his speech and introduces the other members of the crew. There are two guides, two anchormen, a mechanic, a captain and ,very important, a chef. We all get a lifevest and we all put it on, we are so well behaved. They don't look at the sizes and when I drown in mine, one of the Americans looks like he is wearing a crop top.
Soon El Nido disappears out of sight and the sky is cleared. It is a good sign. It doesn't take long to arrive at the first stop: Pasandigan Beach. This beach is known as a location for on of the seasons of Expedition Robinson, a popular Dutch tv-show, and that’s why all the Dutch on board go wild. It is a beautiful location.
We are instructed not to go near the cabins on the left side of the beach, they are owned by rival TAO. We all jumped in the clear blue water with our snorkels (which you can hire from Buhay Isla, but we brought our own). If we arrive at the beach we see two dogs who are stuck together in a rather ‘intimate’ way. It looks very painful and uncomfortable, but luckily they soon find a way to get seperated.
We walk the beach to the rocks and look at the many little crabs that are scuffing around. Gijs thinks the people that participate in Expedition Robinson are losers for never finding any food, he sees something edible all around. When we hear a blow on the large conch we know it is time to return to our boat. Like a school of fish we snorkel back. The life vests are now completely being ignored. We drink some very strong instant coffee and a delicious rice cake. I can get used to this.
The weather is turning bad again, I am cold and the waves get high. My irrational fear of getting seasick plays up again. I’ve never been seasick before so I always feel pretty silly for getting anxious. We are on our way to our lunchspot, near a beautiful beach and a shipwreck. Lunch is being served on the roof terrace and it is incredible. Bowls full of fresh fish, meat, vegetables and salads. And the most important one of course is rice; also known as PHILIPINO POWERRRR. Dishing up the food gets a little hysterical, but we are patient people and there is enough left for us vegetarians. It is delicious!
After lunch there is time for a swim, but I am still cold and finally dry so I pass (and still regret it). Gijs is going for a swim and brags about the many blue starfish he saw, but couldnt take a picture of because of the troubled water. He snorkeled around the shipwreck, but aparently is not a very good photographer.
Our last stop is cancelled due to the bad weather and the high waves. It’s unfortunate, but since I am so cold because of the drizzling rain, it is maybe for the best. We head for our first camp to spend the night: Camp Dayo. It is idicillic. We were warned that it was going to be back to basic, but it turns out to be a comfortable camp. There is light and even porcelain toilet bowls! I quickly dive into a shower cabin and wash off the salt water with a hand douche. The water is warm because it has been standing in the sun all day. I immediately feel better.
Our hut is simple, made of bamboo with a thin mattress and a mosquito net, nothing more, but what else do you need? There is a pergola which serves as a community area with a large table, benches and chairs. It doens’nt take long for the rum to make it’s way to the table and we mix it with Sprite and cola. The combination of Sprite and rum was unknown to me, but quickly made it’s way to my heart. It is quite a dangerous mix, it feels like you are drinking lemonade…
We chat, play drinking games and Darryl gives us a fire show. He tells us it is his first time, but it clearly is one of the best fire shows I have ever seen! Like I am a “fire show expert”...but still it was really good! We find out that we are the onluy ones who brought beers and now I feel like an alcoholic, but when I am standing at the campfire with my ice cold beer I am glad we did bring them. When I start to talk nonsense I decide it is time to go to bed. It was a wonderful first day!