The day after completing my PADI scuba training we moved to the Sinandigan Lodge over on the Coral Cove side of the peninsula. It’s like moving from a heavily populated big city out to an unpopulated rural berg. That’s where my dive buddy was staying, so that’s where we went. I didn’t mind; there’s some good diving over there.
The staff told my wife that we were like the first customers they’d had in about a month. It’s a pretty nice place but its way out of the way, so obviously, no one can find it or get to it. The cost is definitely reasonable though—less than $25 a night. The food is good with prices equally moderate. And a nice thing is that the staff doesn't mind carrying it up the tiring series of stairs to where I loved to eat it at the little dining table on the outside terrace while gazing at the wonderful view.
Billy is the owner, an affable Irish fellow. He bought the place a few years ago and is looking to sell it now. If you have a million or so bucks, you can probably pick it up easy.
We had our choice of about 25 open rooms. Billy had just added a whole new building for some reason. With so few customers I have to wonder why. I think I would have built a pool instead since they have no direct access to the cove.
For our choice of room though, we decided, or I should say I decided to go with the room that I thought had the best view. As I said, the lodge is not right on the water, and with some ornery German guy’s house between the hotel and the water blocking the ground floor view with his allegedly purposely thick high trees, the only way to see the sea is to get up high. So that’s where we stayed, WAY up high. We had a lovely view, but MAN did we ever have to work hard to earn it. Trudging up and down those stairs, especially UP the stairs, I kept muttering, “Dang, I need to get in SHAPE!”
Before 6 a.m. the next morning we woke up to a ruckus on the roof. Something, a LOT of somethings in fact, was running back and forth up there and they were a lot heavier than a rat, or even a cat, both of which I hear on occasion overhead on my own roof.
Groggy but curious, I rolled off the bed and peeked through the curtains to see if anything threatening was out there. There was nothing on the veranda walkway so I opened the door and poked my head out for a look and a listen. I heard some screeching down at the far end of the roof and realized it was a troop of monkeys. I slipped into my slippers and went out to see if I could catch a glimpse.
There are some steep steps going up the hill behind the lodge that I used to get a view on top of the roof. By the time I got up there all I could see were glimpses of them through a thick screen of leaves in the trees at the far end of the structure. They must have spotted me because soon they took off up into the thick vegetation along the hillside. I had my camera ready every morning after that but the monkeys never returned. Rats!
To dive, all we had to do was suit up and walk down to the now defunct Coral Cove and use its access to the water. Every time I did that I felt sad to see it like that, closed up and already falling into disrepair. Its a wonder how quickly the disintegration process goes into effect.
Don drove down and parked his SUV in the little gravel parking lot so we wouldn’t have to carry the heavy bits down there, like the tanks and weights. Coral Cove still had a guard and he didn’t mind watching over the car while we were out in the water.
After the dive we’d bring all our gear back up to The Sinandigan Lodge where we’d rinse out the salt and let it all drip dry from a tree next to its quaint little waterfall pond. It wasn’t convenient like being at a dive resort, but we made do just fine.
With that routine going we got in a dive or two per day for the next five days we stayed there. Unfortunately for me, on the last dive day of the trip as I came out of the water from my first dive I suddenly felt sick as a dog. At first I thought I had done something wrong and was suffering from a light case of decompression sickness; but no, it wasn't that thank God.
Alas, I soon realized that it was MY turn to experience the same virus that Don and Pedro had both suffered through. It definitely took the stuffings out of me, and I mean that literally. I was "out of it" and stayed that way during the journey home the next day. Urp! Squirt!
But that nasty stuff wasn’t until the end of our stay. Over the course of the nine dives I did get in, I got a chance to try out my new Pedro-given dive skills, especially for buoyancy. I didn’t go back to loading up with 24 pounds of ballast but I confess that I DID add a couple of two pounders to the upper trim pockets of my BCD. So, along with my 14 pound drop weights I ended up carrying 18 pounds.
What a relief! With that measly four extra pounds I no longer had any problems with being too light at the end of any of my dives. My problem is completely solved, but I am happy to have learned what I did, because now I am much lighter than I was and so more maneuverable and better balanced underwater. So thank you Pedro for making me learn how to do it the right way.
This will likely be my last post for about a week. In a few hours, at 1:30 am, Don will be picking us up for our next dive trip. This time we will be heading up to the far north of Luzon to dive the waters of the South China Sea on the shores of western Cagayan province.
We’ll be staying at little resort on the beach that doubles as a way stop for truckers. Don has stayed there numerous times but always took his motorcycle, so has never had a chance to dive the area yet. He says he’s never seen any divers at all with the closest dive resort almost 50 km away. So, we’ll be in uncharted waters diving wise. Who knows what we’ll see? I’m getting excited at the prospect. I’ll let you know how it turns out next week. Til then….