Less than 4 weeks left! How did that happen? Who stole the time?
Life on Malapascua is great. The dive centres have been really welcoming and we have ensconced ourselves into island life. This particularly involves the great and wonderful activity of the Beach Trudge. The Beach Trudge is a vital part of Green Fins life on Malapascua. All you need is a suitably green and hopefully relatively clean t-shirt, a decent breakfast, a notebook and a full water bottle. You then start at one end of the beach and trudge up and down visiting all the dive centres you need to. What is a relatively short beach becomes an epic journey that Frodo would have issue with. Sadly the dive centres at the end of the beach get a sadder/sandier/sweatier/droopier (and sometimes sodden) version of Green Fins than those at the beginning. Despite this all the people have been great to talk to and really enthusiastic, from dive shop managers, to dive guides to blessed Tita Jo who is our landlady and has rented us the nicest rooms. I am talking stand up showers and a washing line where the local dogs can’t run off with my pajamas – heaven!
So to continue my list of things I have learnt about the Philippines:
8. Most of the locals are religious and attend church regularly, even in the more remote areas. This can result in some unusual signs (like ‘Jesus loves Cebu’ and ‘We dive with God’), many (not always flattering) pictures of Jesus and the saints, t-shirts saying ‘God save the teens’ and taxi companies called things like ‘The Holy Face of Jesus Christ taxis’. So watch your language future ZEPs! There will be no blaspheming here.
9. Sadly there are no tricycles on Malapascua but they can fit some strange and wonderful things on motorbikes. Apart from extended families they also use them to transport cockerels, crates, eggs, lots of huge water bottles, concrete bricks, dogs and of course, the odd tourist. There is nothing quite so worrying as when at first glance you see a very small child/baby on the front of the bike with its hands on the handlebars and for an instant you actually think he/she is driving it before you see the adult behind. In Cebu they have even gone so far as to put stickers on the jeepneys and trucks saying ‘How’s my driving’. Apparently this is not meant ironically which explains a lot about what they interpret as ‘normal’ driving here!
10. Basketball is the sport of choice. There are courts everywhere and competitions. Not only that but the courts double up as shopping areas, places for mass, and discos.
11. Fish may be friends, not food, but ants are evil and they eat everything. They aren’t endangered so the fight is on (sorry to any ant lovers). The red ones like to get between my toes and bite me and the black ones like to live in my toothbrush. Beware and make sure all food makes its way successfully to your mouth or you will have a million new ‘friends’ in no time.
This may be the end of my list and so I leave any future ZEPs with a few words of not-quite wisdom. 1. Bring a torch – those brown outs are sneaky! 2. Don’t forget to get some washing liquid. At any one time something is bound to need washing, probably your Green Fins t-shirts. 3. Girls – bring a pack of tissues and anti-bacterial gel. 4. If you can’t sleep through noise, bring some ear plugs. 5. A reusable water bottle is very useful. 6. Bring a good pair of lungs for karaoke. 7. The bakery in the village of Malapascua sells everything for 5 peos (about 7p) and is a Godsend. 8. If you go to Evolution for Halloween stay away from the blood shots – it’s not worth it! 9. A 1,000 peso note is pretty much useless as most people don’t have change or do not want to part with it, so break them wherever possible. 10. Get used to answering to the name Green Fins. 11. Fruit and veg are not exactly a main part of the diet so bring some vitamin tablets or keep an eye out when shopping. 12, 13 and 14. Enjoy!