Maayong Gabi-i from the Philippines!

So, the good news: I’m almost caught up with blogs, the bad news: I’m going to have to start getting more creative with what I write about once I’m caught up. So now, without further ado I will tell you all about our New Year’s Extravaganza

After my ten day hiatus in Manila, I was back at my site, but only for a mere two days which I used to catch up on life stuff such as laundry, cleaning, etc.  It had been three months seen I’d seen my fellow batch mates and I was mighty anxious before the trip because leading up to it disasters seemed to be striking left and right: someone got dengue, another dislocated his knee, others got stuck in the middle of a really bad typhoon, etc. To be honest I was fairly certain one of us would not make it to our holiday destination. But when I woke up on the 29th to head south to a ferry and I saw everyone was alive and making moves I was elated and ready for my journey.

The night of the 29th my two CRM island mates and I stayed in Bato, a municipality 45 minutes south of me that’s next to the port. The next morning, bright and early, we boarded a ferry headed to Ubay, Bohol and then took a 3 hour van to Tagbiliran. Alas we were almost there, we made a “quick” stop at the mall where we ate pizza and bought supplies for the week ahead. We started running into people at the mall and we all became “woo” girls and boys as we greeted each other with enthusiasm. I’m sure people around us where questioning our state of mind, but we get stared at so much here that we didn’t even notice if more people were looking than usual.

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We all had to put on our life jackets before the ferry departed

The last leg of our journey was a taxi ride from Tagbiliran to Panglao, which is just a tiny island connected to Bohol by bridge. And now the festivities began! I won’t go into details of the whole week because honestly there’s too many. What I can do is go into the highlights.

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Blissful joy as friends reunite

New year’s eve was amazing! After the longest “dry spell” from diving I had had in 5 years I was DYING to get back in the water, and that I did as I spent my last day of 2016 diving for the first time in the Pacific (I’m not counting Galapagos, they’re different). We saw some awesome critters, but the highlights were the frogfish and the cuttlefish, we also had a couple sweet turtles cruise past.

That night was equally amazing and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to bring in the new year. Our incredible hostel (shout out to Moon Fools) put out a spread of food for us, but they were also welcoming of our friends staying at other hostels; their hospitality was beyond words. After our feast we headed to the beach where we found a live band playing…. and NO ONE DANCING. I don’t wanna brag, but I will, once we started dancing EVERYONE started dancing. We danced for hours into the night, only stopping to count in the New Year.

New year’s day proved to be an equally amazing day with the highlight being that night when we went on a night, firefly kayaking tour. Paddling along, we encountered trees filled with colonies of fireflies. It was mesmerizing and looked just like, if not better, than a Christmas light display. I really could’ve sat there for hours watching, but my stomach started to rumble and a delicious feast provided by the kayaking company was waiting.

The next day was another fun day in which we visited some of the iconic places of Bohol. We took a long day excursion starting at the tarsier sanctuary. Tarsiers are adorable, tiny, VERY tiny, animals with huge eyes that are endemic to the Philippines. We then went on a river boat lunch cruise in which we had a delicious feast, took titanic themed pictures and sang “build me up buttercup” at the top of our lungs as we were docking. Our last stop was the Chocolate hills, really an amazing site and of course, a great place for selfies!

There was one night, although it’s a blur as to which one it was, were we stayed up all night. We danced, we swam, we talked and danced some more. As the night turned into morning and the first rays of sunshine began to poke through, me and two of my friends went to the beach, after being up all night, where we watched an amazing sunrise. Having that gorgeous view on a beautiful island and being with amazing company made me have one of those AJA moment where you step back and realize just how lucky you are.

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The day before leaving I went to get my tattoo, which I’d been wanting for over a year now. Another shout out here cause it’s well deserved to JJ Kroma Kreations because he did a fantastic job and I’m in love with my new tattoo. This is number five and I can say it hurt… a lot… even more than the one on my ribs because of all the shading it had. But as with the rest of my tattoos the pain was well worth it. That night we rallied one last time and the next morning a very sleepy Andrew and I made our way back to our island. In order to transition back to site life, me and my two friends decided to spend the weekend in the big city of Tacloban in an awesome hostel (Yellow Doors) eating good food, watching movies and unwinding after an amazing week.

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But I have to say that the biggest highlight of all was being with my friends. This crazy “framily” we have now is a goofy, crazy and probably obnoxious to anyone on the outside (although we welcome anyone to our group), but we all look out for each other and we all understand better than anyone else what we are all going through (since we’re all going through the same thing). So even though I was sad to not be with my family for Christmas and new years for the first time in my life, at least I had this amazing group of people with me.

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And that my friends, is how I brought in the new years, with good food, beautiful sites and amazing company.

Unitl next time!

Dani

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This post would be incomplete without a picture of these tiny garage doors which we were all very mesmerized with during the whole week. This was also our meeting point if anyone got lost
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