GPS waypoint: 10°38'45.95"N 124°22'53.72"E
Location: Camotes Islands, Cebu (province), Philippines
1 Month Down, 1 More to Go
After a month in Camotes Islands, I decided to renew my stay by another month. I'm ok to think I'll be here on a month by month basis - that's as far as I can stretch my here-and-now. Accordingly, I've settled quite comfortably in my rented room, developing my own routine, and even buying essential household things. This is as close as I get to having a home.
Camotes Islands isn't exactly a tourist destination so I don't come across travelers to hang with. But I'm good with the staff and owner of my lodging place. They're quite nice to me, inviting to come along if there's an event in the family or knocking on my door with food to share with.
Outside, I default to hanging out at Kayla Me food kiosk, manned by Mitchell, a Kiwi, and Grant, an Aussie. They have interesting projects in Camotes along the lines of organic, low-key, native and natural. Interestingly, they are open to having me being a part of their scene. This ties-in with a vision I have with my Cebu City friend, Jeanne, about having a yoga retreat here. Nothing concrete yet for me, but it looks promising.
I've also come within the orbit of Joy, Poro's tourism officer who was introduced online to me by our mutual friend from Cebu City, Bobette. Already, Joy and Abel took me up to Altavista for a scenic view of the neighboring islands from Camotes' highest peak. Again, I was invited to be a part of Abel's birthday gathering in Esperanza, Poro where I met their neighbors and colleagues.
This is as close as I get to a normal social life. When I was on the road, friendships take on a 48-hour shelf life.
I stumbled upon a parked bicycle gathering dust in a garage. I talked to the owner, offering to rent it for a month, on condition that I will have it cleaned, lubed and calibrated. Whatever part needs to be replaced, I will replace it. He liked my offer and agreed to rent it to me for a very reasonable P500/month. It's a Japanese surplus pink lady's bike with a basket. I don't care! What's important is that I have a bike to take me from point A to Point B. With a bike, my range exponentially increased, biking as far as Esperanza (San Fran), Poro, and most of the far flung barangays.
On the 2nd month, hoping to save my P500/month, I offered to buy it at P1,500 + 1 night for 2 at Aladin White Beach Resort, a luxurious beach resort at P3500/night. He didn't sell me the bike, but took the resort offer and instead, allowed me to use the bike indefinitely for as long as I am in Camotes. That also suit me well and good. At least I had no cash outlay. As for the resort accommodation, that was a credit balance from a separate barter deal I had with with resort owner. So far, things had been going my way and I'm able to conserve my precious and limited cash.
What makes San Francisco special in Camotes is the Baywalk and its surroundings (carinderia, food kiosks, market, stores, sidewalk vendors, etc.) where people gather and meet. It adds dimension and color to the place. I could just hang in Baywalk and chill, watching people go by and enjoying the fresh clean ocean air. The only downside to Baywalk is its numerous and blaring karaoke bars on full blast. When I reach my saturation point, I simply leave and ride my bike elsewhere.
Mornings, I bike to Baywalk for my morning workout where I use its open-air public exercise facility - dipping bar, monkey bars, horizontal bars and chinning bar. I also get to do my skipping rope. What's great about it is it's beside the ocean - fresh clean air as you gasp your breath. I follow my workout always with pranayama and meditation. With that routine, I could really feel my strength coming back.
With my bicycle, I ventured out to other resort pockets in San Francisco. En route, I would detour to obscure dirt roads leading to the water and come across signs about caves and beaches. That's how I came across Holy Crystal Cave and Timubo Cave. As a tag-along to my lodging staff, I spent time in Santiago Bay Beach, a stretch of white sand beach lined up with beach resorts, bars and restos. At Mangodlong area, I went inside 2 plush resorts to check-out their beach scene. At Esperanza, I came upon the Aladin White Beach Resort - an ambitious newly built multi-story resort fronting a white sand beach. Further up was the tiny island of Tulang Diot. I've only scratched the surface. With my additional month, I plan to scour the rest of the island.
From Cebu City, I brought my mini rice cooker. With it, I was back to being a guerilla chef, doing creative kitchen things with only my Swiss Army knife. I have cooked pizza from scratch. More often though, my rice cooker is my water kettle, my oatmeal maker, pasta cooker and everything essential.
The free time that became available to me by settling down allowed me to view as many film documentaries as I could possibly devour from Youtube, Top Documentary Films, etc. I would eat them all up from cutting-edge science (holographic universe, absolute zero, light, quantum mechanics) to spiritual (Krishnamurti, Sadguru, Bashar, Yoga) to politics (Bernie Sanders, Duterte, Trump, world events), etc. I was a kid lost in a candy factory.
Responsive Web Design
Lastly, and it's my bad, I had been way behind in web design technologies. While I have continued updating my sites, they were essentially copy-and-paste functions from pre-existing templates that were dated to begin with. Finding time to catch up, I realized how far behind I've lagged. Now, I make time to learn HTML5, CSS3 and Responsive Web Design. By the time I leave Camotes, I should be able to hand-code from scratch, a responsive website compliant to the latest W3C standards, SEO best-business practices and emergent design trends. The operative word being, "hand-code from scratch" - not from a template (like Wordpress or Bootstrap). Nowadays, there are few web designers who can hand-code - this will be my unique edge.
The freedom to travel has been Holy Grail to most people toiling the 5-9 routine. But ironically, with my newfound freedom at settling down, I feel the liberation from the bondage of travel. I liken myself to a prison inmate released from incarceration with time on his hands to pursue many things put on hold.
At some point, I know I'll feel restless and it would be time for me to pack-up again and hit the open road. But that hasn't happened yet. For now, I am enjoying this borrowed time.
Next stop: Tudela and Busay Falls
Camotes Island FYI / Tips
Camotes Island Cost Index(US$1 = Php 49.82 as of Jan 15, 2017)
Camotes Islands to Cebu City
Cebu City to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental by Boat
Camotes Island to Danao
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