Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The Beauty and the Beast
Piece of sponge
Steve and the fisherman.
Old and flimsy boat.
My brother, me, and caretaker. I was holding beer for the camera just for fun...not a beer drinker at all.
I have been raving about the beauty of the beaches in Catanduanes, it is about time that I should blog about the danger behind its beauty. Just because it is beautiful doesn't mean it is safe. It happened three years ago in Puraran. It was the year when we came home to attend the wedding in Marilima beach, Virac Catanduanes. We were staying in Batag resort, Virac, Catanduanes for the night.
Suddenly, my husband, along with two friends of ours from the USA, decided to go to Puraran on the day of the wedding despite my objection. The wedding was going to be held late in the afternoon so he figured he had plenty of time to get back in time for the wedding. The travel to Puraran was about 2 hours from Virac, one way. They left in a van fairly early in the morning and took my brother along with them as a guide.
They came back rather late. I was getting upset and worried. He looked so tired and his face was all red. I reckoned he spent all day frolicking on the beach. Our room where we stayed in was full of people already getting ready for the wedding. He went in and asked for his clothes so he could take a shower. He dressed up for the wedding in no time. Suddenly, I saw him sitting on the couch in the living room dozing off despite of how busy and noisy the place was. I let him be as the wedding was not going to start until approximately an hour later. I thought it was good that he took siesta before the event.
I asked for the change of the money I gave him on his trip to Puraran. He said, "I will talk to you about it later." Fair enough, I thought I would catch him later that night in bed and besides I was preoccupied with wedding matters.
As night came, I asked him again what happened to the change. He said, "it is gone, I did some good deeds with the locals." I was actually happy of what I heard and was proud of him of being nice to the less-fortunate. The topic ended and we flew back the following day.
Six months later, Joe popped on my YM, asking me strange questions like "has S been nice to you lately?" or has S been acting different lately?" I immediately suspected something was wrong but I just couldn't pinpoint it. At first I thought he found a girlfriend in Puraran, but I knew he wouldn't do that as the idea seemed farfetched. Joe wouldn't disclose what happened and led me in circles for some time despite my ceaseless prodding. He probably couldn't believe why my husband hadn't told me about the incident. Finally, after wheedling for truth for some time, I finally persuaded him in confiding in me. Here's the rest of the story as told by my husband.
I was wading in about no more than one foot of water, too shallow to actually swim in and was looking for deeper water to swim. There were no surfers or fishermen in sight. About 50 feet away, I saw what looked like deeper water on the reef, so, I dove into the water using the piece of foam and paddled toward it. Then as I swam, I noticed that I was being swept outwards, I paddled as hard as I could, but suddenly the water was over my head and I was being carried out into the deeper ocean. The bottom was going by faster that a man could ever run. I paddled as hard as I could but it made no difference.
Suddenly, I could hear the breakers in front of me instead of behind me. Now, I was on the other side of the white breakers and was caught in the big swell of the Pacific Ocean. It bobbed me around like a cork. I was plenty scared at that point. All I could see was ocean and breakers between me and safety.
Long time went by and I was getting very tired. Some of the waves were splashing oer my head and I was breathing water and coughing. I could feel a cramp coming along in one of my legs, my body temperature was going down slowly, and the blood was leaving my appendages to warm my core. Furthermore, the current was carrying me to the right side where the breakers were crashing visciously against the reef; I knew it was just a matter of time before I would be battered against the coral. Somehow, the piece of sponge that I was carrying and the extra pounds contributed to my flotation in the water for at least an hour, according to Joe, a friend, who came with us.
Then Junior, my brother-in-law, waded out a ways into the water, carefully, as he did not know how to swim and beckoned me to come in. It was very noisy with the waves so all I could do was gesture with my arms for him to save me. I said, "boat!" "boat!" and he didn't know or hear what I was saying and continued to wave me in thinking that I was out there having fun. Since I didn't come in, he waded up closer and found some rocks where he could walk yet even closer. I shouted with all my energy and at the top of my lungs to get a boat, above the noise of the waves. His eyes open widely when he realized that I was in trouble. He immediately ran back up to the resort.
After the longest time when I had completely given up hope and was saving my little energy for when the waves crashed me against the reef, I saw two natives pulling a canoe to the water, which gave me new HOPE. I watched them row the canoe through the channel in the coral and they seemed to head out to sea instead of coming over to me. I waved frantically but they kept going. I figured they were two fishermen who were not going to bother picking me up. I said to myself, "if they save me, I am going to give them one heck of a good tip." Then, they circled toward me and approached from the rear where they themselves were safe. In order to get myself into the canoe, one of the natives had to jump out in the water and hung out on the outrigger on the far side to counter balance the weight while I struggled to get into the flimsy canoe. While the two locals paddled the canoe, I bailed water from the canoe. We finally made to shore, to safety, and once I had calmed down, I gave them all the money I had on me, in exchange for my life.
Note: the boat and fisherman in the above pictures were my husband's saviour. All beaches are dangerous. Always wear a life vest, or bring a surfboard, boggie board, or inflatable raft before venturing in the water. Just because you are a good swimmer means nothing.