Another amazing weekend spent traveling. This time I went to Cagbalete Island, and this was not a MAD Travel trip. The trip was called Camp Isla. The marketing manager on the GK farm, Mia, takes groups to different islands throughout the Philippines and asked us if we wanted to go with. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. The opportunity did come a little late for Savanna and I. Originally there wasn’t enough space for us to go with the other four GK interns from our school, but on the day they were leaving Mia said there was room because people dropped out. I started packing almost immediately.
We left the farm in the evening for Manila where the tour would be leaving. We spent the night at Mia’s friend’s apartment since the tour was leaving at 3am. Just a side note, the apartment had the most amazing view of Manila. It was on the 58th floor in the apartment building. I could see the bay and the different neighborhoods that the city is separated into. It was gorgeous with all the lights. Anyway, we left bright and early to pick up the other people that would be joining us. These were a happy bunch of people for 3am. All smiles and laughs. I just wanted to sleep. Eventually it did die down and I slept the entire way. We stopped for breakfast around 8am, and soon after arrived at the port. We took an hour boat ride to the island. The boat was unlike any I’ve seen before. It reminded me of little water spiders because it had long rails on either side.
Photo: Cagbalete Island
Once we got to the island we relaxed for a little and then introduced ourselves. My friends and I were the only Americans there. Everyone else was Filipino, and they mostly spoke in Tagalog throughout the trip. They were all very excited to be there and talk with us too. Once we disbanded I walked the beach a little bit collecting shells with Savanna and Jill, another GK intern. Eventually we played volleyball. I was thrilled! This is one of my favorite things to do. The game turned into the Americans versus the Filipinos. The Americans won, but it was a good game. Then the lunch bell rang. This was great because I was starving. We had shrimp, chicken, rice, and veggies. It was also boodle fight style. This is when all the food is laid out on banana leaves and you eat with your hands. It was delicious. I learned I’m not the most graceful when I eat boodle fight style, but I just go for it.
Later in the day I went island hopping and snorkeling. The first island they took us to wasn’t really an island. It was more a pile of rocks with some bushes growing. It was still pretty cool though because we got to explore. The rocks were underwater, so it looked like everyone was walking on water. Next we went snorkeling. I loved this too. I had a waterproof camera that I finally was able to try out and got some great footage. I saw a bunch of colorful fish, sea urchins, crabs, and a blue starfish. I could have spent so much more time here, but we had to leave. After this the boat took us to a river that cut through mango trees. It reminded me of pictures I’ve seen of bayous in Louisiana, but not swampy. We arrived back at the beach just before the rain started.
We had dinner, boodle fight style again, and the food consisted of rice, fish, mangoes, veggies and chicken. After dinner they started a bonfire. I liked sitting around with everyone and talking, even if most of the time the others were speaking Tagalog. Eventually Mia pulled out big paper lanterns. I was excited because I’ve always wanted to throw paper lanterns into the sky. Katie and I paired up to let one go. We gently pushed the lantern into the night sky with the others. It was really beautiful to watch all the lanterns float away. This was a great way to end the night.
The next day we woke up to breakfast being set. There was bananas, chowder, noodles, and bread. It was an interesting combination, but still good. I swam for a little while and played some more volleyball before the heat got to me. I hung out in a hammock for most of the day reading. Eventually it was time to leave, so we packed up and hopped back on the boat, then the bus to Manila. On the bus ride back we stopped at a stand in the mountains selling babingka. Babingka is a rice cake with some cheese on it, and it came in a cute little basket woven out of banana leaves. We eventually arrived in Manila and that was the end to this wonderful weekend.
I loved spending a weekend away from work and farm life. It was a much needed break, but now it’s back to work making social media posts, blogs, and videos!