Crossing the Camotes Sea with new-found friends
I squinted my eyes as the boat was about to dock. We weren’t docking at a port, I thought to myself. It was just a small strip of shoreline lined with small houses. Our boat had to dock there because it ran out of gasoline.
The place was Barangay San Isidro in the town of San Francisco. We were told by the residents that we had already passed by the place we were actually going to which was Barangay Santiago. They were wondering why the boatmen had to take us to Barangay San Isidro when we could have taken directly to Santiago which was nearer. The residents were also concerned why we dared ride on a very small boat when the sea was rough.
It wasn’t really part of the plan. The plan was to travel from Cebu City to Danao and from there to take the ferry to the port of Barangay Consuelo, also in the town of San Francisco.
But it was Maundy Thursday, a holiday. And everyone was headed to Camotes Islands (okay, that was just an exaggeration). Danao port could have made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for its suuuuuuper looooong queue, and that was just to get what the shipping company call “priority number” before you could buy a ticket. By the look of it, it would be impossible to cross the Camotes Sea by ferry before 10PM, and we were there as early as 8AM.
Another option was to go on a boat. Two men who were traveling with a little girl agreed to go with us. The boat’s charge was split among us.
So off we went on a boat: an itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie outrigger, so small that two persons cannot sit side by side. I looked at the water as the boatman started off the engine. It was calm and crystal clear. I looked up and saw blue sky studded with soft cottony clouds. It was going to be a peaceful ride, I thought to myself. Or perhaps I was just trying to convince myself because admittedly I do not know how to swim and there was no life vest in the boat.
One hour into the trip, I noticed the waves were getting bigger. The boatmen tried to manage as we were going against the flow of the swell. Then the engine conked out. Once. Twice. Thrice. The boatmen tried to revive it each time. Apparently, a small part of the engine kept loosening.
The waves crashed into the boat many times; seawater splashing up on us. I held on tightly to my backpack which I put in front of me. I covered it with my jacket to protect my camera.
The fourth time the engine stopped, the boatmen told us we ran out of gasoline. Luck was still on our side because we were already near the shores of San Francisco. The boat made it to Camotes Island safely. The three and a half hours trip left my things wet. Everything. Except my camera which I wrapped in a small plastic sando bag.
The next day, a habal-habal took us around the town of San Francisco. The driver told us some tourists from Manila also dared to go to Camotes on a boat the same day we took the trip, only that they left Danao a few hours later than we did. The boat capsized as it was nearing the shore. Fortunately, everyone was safe as people from a nearby resort came to the rescue.
Next post: Santiago Bay