I awoke to the sound of my alarm. It was still dark outside but most of us were already up. I got up with quite a struggle. My body still bore the muscle pains of hiking the other day. It was hard to move my knees and my ankles. They were still tender. However, had I not dipped my body in the Hot springs, I might not be able to move at all. It was still a struggle moving from the bed to the bathroom and back. I had lean onto something, but it would be too embarrassing.
4:30 AM early the next morning, we set off to White Island. The island is actually a huge sand bar that resembled an island. There are no trees or any form of vegetation or human habitation. Only a small hut for registration, preservation and protection of the island could be found. During high tide, only a small portion of the island could be seen, as the water ebbs, the island expands into a great sandy beach. The Island looked nice from afar when we gazed at it from Mt. Hibok-Hibok, but being in the actual island, I found out that it was really as pristine as I had imagined.
We had a short devotional while facing the sunrise. It felt warm inside to experience worshiping God with the sun and the whole lush island of Camiguin in front of you. It was proof of the majesty of God. Who else could make scenery such as this?
Afterwards, we went for a short swim. Though pressed for time, we managed to enjoy the moment. Around the island were corals of all kinds, shapes and sizes. Not only that the corals are alive. All kinds of small fishes thrive in the area.
I saw small coral fishes, a blue starfish and some eels. That’s saying a lot for someone who couldn’t swim well such as myself. The water barely reached my chest so I could go as far as 10 meters away from the island and still be able to swim back. However, I was still apprehensive when I learned that there were sea urchins, and that the small fishes nip the legs when you swim. It would’ve been a great experience, but I wouldn’t risk it. I just stayed close to shore appreciating the flora and fauna from afar.
Another fun fact during our few minute stay in White Island, most of us weren’t able to bring snorkels, instead we bought kiddie goggles for 10 pesos. I doubted it’s strength at first but when I wore it and looked at the corals, I was amazed at how sturdy it was. It could probably withstand a whole day of swimming before showing signs of wear and water penetration. So much for 10 pesos worth of goggles.
We reached Cagayan de Oro by 12 noon. There we experienced yet another adventure in water. This last experience capped off our stay in Cagayan de Oro. It was so exhilarating that as of this writing, my knees are still wobbly and my head still remembers the feeling of getting tossed. I am talking about White Water Rafting.
This was a fitting finale to our series of escapades in Cagayan De Oro and Camiguin. A few years back, I read an article from the Philippine Panorama describing White Water Rafting. I really kept that article while saying to myself every time I read it that I would definitely try that. Now, I was one of the people who could testify how safe, fun and exciting the rafting could be.
There are two things that could happen to you during rafting, you could either fall or flip. The distinction is simple, falling, you drop into the water. Flipping, the boat also turns upside down with you. I am glad to say that I have experienced both and it was really amazing. There are at most 4-5 guides during the whole adventure 1-2 guides per raft. They are fully trained and equipped to handle all sorts of mishaps on the wild water. They were even trained to lift a person such as me from the water. Everyone is also given helmets and life vests that are worn at all times for safety precautions. Removing the helmet and life vests at any given time during the rafting means trouble.
The guides would give you four commands: easy forward/ forward, hard paddle/ hard forward, stop/ rest, and high five. Easy forward, you paddle lightly, the water touching only half of the blade of the paddle. Hard paddle/hard forward means you speed up, you dip the whole blade of the paddle into the water. Stop/rest is where you hold your paddle at level position not doing anything. High five is where you raise your paddles high. This is done after every rapid and usually accompanied by a shout or raucous laughter.
On the river, you can try the 14 rapids course for beginners or the more advanced 21 rapid course. They run on the same river but the latter is longer and has more complicated rapids. We planned to take the ultimate challenge the 21-rapid course.
We divided ourselves into two groups of seven: red team and the yellow team. Raucous laughter and trash talk ensued between the two groups. Our group was the noisiest. Most of us were still shouting even at the end of the course. We were also the one with the most falls and flips. We found ourselves on the water most of the time. It may seem embarrassing to fall down the water, but I soon found out that for amateurs like us, falling down and experiencing the flips of the boat were the most wonderful moments of the adventure. You’d get to experience this only once in your life, why not experience falling as well?
After the course, we rushed back to catch our flight back to Manila. We quickly dressed up. The manager of the white water rafting was kind enough to lend us his jeepney for free. With break neck speed we were able to reach the airport.
However, we were not able to get to the airport in time and totally missed the plane back home.