ARE WE THERE YET?
At around 8:30am, we finally reached the town of San Antonio, the drop off point for people who'd go to the fishing village of Pundaquit, which is where tourist boats to Anawangin and Nagsasa are docked. So yeah, there's no direct way from Manila to these coves.
Before heading to Pundaquit, we bought some personal things in a drugstore in town and ate breakfast in 7-11. We then rode a tricycle to Pundaquit and reached the village within 15 minutes. Fare is P30 per tricycle (not per head).
But because Mrs. Agasa was very accommodating, we just let it pass. Besides, she assured us that we'd be in good hands. So I thought we could immediately go island hopping and get the tan we'd all been longing to have, but then we had to wait for another 20 minutes because the things that we needed (i.e. kitchen utensils, water, tent, etc.) were still not yet prepared. Strike two!
The boat. Bow.
"Kahit po bente kayo madam, kasyang kasya kayo sa bangka ko," promised Kuya Jaime in his text message to me when I contacted him a few weeks before our trip.
I held on to his promise and looked forward to an exciting big boat ride. And since my expectations were a little higher than usual, the disappointment came as a strong punch to the gut (arte lang! haha).
Asan na 'yung malaking bangka! Ano to, ni hindi magkasya ang mga pwet naming apat!
First, Kuya Jaime dumped us and now we were given an outrigger boat that's too small for our fat arses. </3
So anyway, without further ado, we started our island hopping tour in Camara Island. It's fine, nothing really special about it in my opinion. We only spent 5 minutes here.
Then there's Capones Island, where we met Kuya Jaime who's very mabait naman so I couldn't tell to his face that I was a *little* mad at him for ditching us and giving us a shitty boat.
Capones was far more interesting than Camara, and much more tiring to explore! So you know that famous lighthouse in this island, which turned out to be dangerously old and rusty? You have to hike first before you can reach the sweet spot. And because we weren't informed of this 'extra activity' (or was it my responsibility to know?), we were already panting after 10 steps. Literally. This was at 10:00 in the morning, folks!
Kidding aside, basta our boatmen weren't the best. Ang eksena: a small outrigger boat that could barely fit 6 people (let alone 4 big bags, a 5-gallon water container, and kung anu-anong kyeme just to make this camping trip a reality...ansabe?), bipolar wind and waves, and torturous summer heat. It would have been tolerable if our bangkeros were good enough to transport us to Nagsasa Cove in 45 minutes even with the aforementioned weather conditions (yes naman, I sound so demanding). Or was it the size of the boat? Was it too small to be treading the waters of Pundaquit? But then again, the most skilled fishermen can brave the Pacific with only a raft. I actually lost count of how many times manong bangkeros lost control of the boat and how many times we stopped in the middle of the big blue sea and how many times we were overtaken by other [bigger] tourist boats.
I was thinking of writing complaints about Nagsasa's lack of 'wow factor', the lack of electricity and cell signal, the lack of basic amenities such as a clean restroom, and the abundance of mosquitoes but I stopped myself from sounding so stupid because I realized that these are the very things that make up the whole camping shebang.
The thing was, I came unprepared. I thought I was ready to spend an overnight stay sleeping inside an uncomfortable tent after a night full of chismis and roasted marshmallows and lukewarm beer because I thought that's all there was to it (other than getting a gorgeous tan after hours of sunbathing, of course). But nobody told me about the difficult moments that made me want to go back to the comforts of the city life pronto. Or the overwhelming realizations after talking with Aetas who permanently live in Nagsasa Cove and after seeing how happy their kids were after receiving the surplus hotdogs from us.
So my other tip for you when your Anawangin/Nagsasa Cove plan materializes? Find some time to talk to the locals and listen with open ears. Their stories will surely warm even the coldest of hearts. (lulz)