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With Manila miles behind, sitting in a 19-seat propeller I was on my way to Boracay Island a small (7 by 1 km) island in the Visayas.  It was still early September with only days until my 25th birthday and I was beyond excited to visit this holiday hotspot that so many Asian & European tourists had claimed as having the most beautiful white beaches and equally nice sunsets.  I don’t know if I have mentioned but we are traveling the Philippines during the rainy season aka Typhoon central. So this plane ride was nonetheless terrifying and something I will mark down as a cautionary and necessary experience. There in no exaggeration in my words the plane was literally bouncing around in the rain and wind, soaking our bags in the process even though we were riding shotgun behind the pilot and co pilot. We ended up staying a whole week in this paradise, and regardless of the daily rain showers we had a blast. Boracay is a non-stop party. Jack Johnson cover bands, drinks for $1.50 Canadian and music pumping until the early morning.  There were hundreds of fine restaurants and many bars and dance bamboo sheds.  I read that one of the northern beaches ‘Puka’ was made famous by Elizabeth Taylor’s fascination with the white Puka shells littering the beach.  We stayed on White Beach a long 2km stretch of white sand with views of mountains on the neighboring island of Panay and red sunsets on the other side.  We saw only one nice sunset, but I can’t really complain as the typhoon created magnificent dark skies that complimented the turquoise waters below.  However the most memorable part of visiting Boracay has come from a local family inviting over for breakfast, the Filipino way. The story goes after a couple days on Boracay we established a favorite hangout Nigi Nigi Bar and befriended one of the bartenders Nolly.  He invited us back to his house to have a breakfast with him and his wife Joy who was also the cook at the bar. Taking him up on his offer we left the next day at 6am to make the trek onshore to Caticlan. After a short ferry across the water Nolly took us in his own tricycle (think batman and robin) and we set off to his ‘castle’.  We briefly stopped at the local market to pick up fresh tuna (caught a hour before we arrived) and pork. Driving through the poverty in the streets my standards were low and I wondered what his home would look like. To my shock we left the main paved road and continued into the jungle, and a different picture was beginning to come clear. Driving by the greenest rice fields I had ever seen, local school children waving at us and farmers doing what they do we finally arrived at a fresh water river and left the tricycle to journey by foot.  We hiked further into this amazing jungle and up a huge hill to where his ‘castle’ was.  Flowers of all colors, a tree full of Kalamantci (baby limes that are ubiquitous in the philippines) and strange plants with huge leaves surrounded his house. A small concrete 1-bedroom house with pink interior and stuffed animals for decoration. The roof still not finished, but made of strong lumber that Nolly was proud to discuss.  Nolly and Joy introduced us to their 2 boys (7 and 4) I only remember James the older boy’s name.  Nolly told us he recently moved here to get away from the bustle of Boracay and I couldn’t have agreed more with him. His place was small, but by the town’s standards it was a castle and one on top of a hill.  Both Nolly and Joy refused to let us help cook the breakfast of pork and rice, so Ben and I chilled on the front porch drinking coffee and listening to the sounds of the jungle. After a huge eating session, another Anthony Bourdain would be jealous of; we walked down the hill to the most amazing fresh water river where his family bathed every day. It started raining slightly but it didn’t matter, it felt amazing. The cool water about 4 feet deep in places and the trees overhanging parts of the rocky beach made this seem like Nolly really did have his own paradise here in the middle of the jungle a couple kilometers from the busy city of Caticlan. I will remember this experience for a long time, as I’m sure Ben will too.  Returning to Boracay later that day, I was proud to experience this local Filipino family’s only time off with their kids a mere 6 hours every morning before they headed back to Boracay.  But I was back to partying the night away on Boracay, it was my birthday after all.  Something else I had noticed and come to learn about was the Asian tourists who dominated the beach and surroundings of Boracay were different to one another. The Chinese were more independent, and the Korean usually came with tour guides who ripped them off. I guess they felt unsafe or something, as they almost all had these guides who would instruct them on everything from eating to adventures.  I did go snorkeling in Boracay and really enjoyed the blue starfish and angelfish that littered the shallows.   Before I close my Boracay chapter I have to mention that I did get really sick towards the end, perhaps from drinking water somehow I will never now.  And I thought death was near, I was freaking out and delusional -puking non-stop around 4am. The rest I will spare you.  Boracay is beautiful and I don’t want to ruin it.  I will return someday, hopefully things stay the same although I doubt this as I’m typing it.IMG_0237

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