After celebrating Zion’s birthday with friends on Friday afternoon and evening, we still had a long weekend with no school Monday. Saturday morning we got up, packed the car and drove south out of Cebu. It’s a little confusing to talk about leaving Cebu because it is the name of our city and our island. It’s kinda like saying you left New York to go visit southern New York. So we left Cebu City to go down to the south of Cebu [island].
This was our first time leaving the city to see another part of Cebu island. It took almost 2 hours to get clear of the city (hello traffic) but once we did, it was a lovely drive. If you think of the Philippines as being an underwater mountain range, with the islands being mostly-submerged mountains with just the tips sticking out of the water, it will help you understand the geography of Cebu. As we drove along the coast, to our left was a bank with the ocean just beneath us. To the right was a slope leading up the mountain. The ocean came in and out of view, but usually there was only a narrow strip of trees or shacks between the road and the beach. At one point we watched as a Brahminy kite dove down and snatched a fish out of the water.
In one town we passed through, the roadside was a blur of colorful flowers on tall rods. It appeared that they were preparing for fiesta (annual celebration for the town’s patron saint). As I looked more closely at the flowers, I realized the petals were cut and formed from plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
When we got to Oslob and checked into our hotel on the coast, the boys wasted no time. They went straight to the beach, where the water was at low tide. Just like in Bohol, they quickly found playmates, and collected starfish, dug holes, played with crabs and even caught some small sea snakes.
The next morning we got up and drove to Tumalog Falls, just outside of Oslob. We drove ten minutes or so up into the mountains, then parked in a small, crowded lot. At the end of the lot was a line of motorcycles, waiting to ferry visitors down the very steep road to the foot of the falls. We opted to walk. The falls were really beautiful, better than I had imagined. There were a lot of other visitors (doesn’t that sound nicer than saying the place was crawling with tourists?), but it didn’t feel terribly crowded. Ben and the boys swam, while Clementine looked on, snug in a sling on my side, enjoying the cool mist that filled the air.
It seemed every person in sight was holding a selfie stick, and I thought to myself how sad it is that we don’t even have to ask other people to snap a picture of us anymore. Then I turned and saw a group of 5 or 6 older ladies–with no selfie stick!–trying to take a pic of themselves. I offered my services, and they were thrilled. Because the falls were mostly above us, though, I ended up leaning back in a sort of crabwalking position, with my hand on the ground behind me, the phone (camera) in the other hand, and Clementine still in the sling on my side, to get an upward angle picture of them with the falls in the background. The ladies were sufficiently impressed, and asked for a picture with me and Clementine. Then they asked her name, and as I walked away they all serenaded us with the complete first verse of “Oh my Darling, Clementine!” How these non-English-speaking ladies knew the entire first verse (not just the chorus!) of that song is beyond me.
In a cavern, In a canyon,
Excavating for a mine,
Dwelt a miner forty-niner,
And his daughter Clementine.
When we went to trek back up the hill, Ben asked if I wanted a ride on one of the motorcycles. I took one look at the hill and said, “Yes!” Then I climbed onto the back of a motorcycle taxi with Clementine still in the sling. As we rode off along the gravel drive, I desperately gripped the driver’s back. I could tell he was trying to get up his speed before the road got really steep. What am I, crazy? I thought to myself. I’m risking my baby’s life to avoid a 10-minute climb up a steep road. Then there was a slight bump and I realized we were riding on smooth black top. The driver was still gunning it up the very steep road, but it suddenly didn’t feel so dangerous. Then we rounded the corner and I realized we weren’t even to the real steep part yet. Just like that, I was convinced again that my baby and I would perish on that hillside. I could see that the other motorcycle taxi passengers were not madly gripping the back sides of their drivers. I didn’t care. I was holding on for dear life. We made it to the top with no mishap, though, and I opened the car door and placed Clementine in her carseat. She looked at me calmly, and waited 10 minutes for Ben and the boys to finish their ascent.
“How was your ride?” they asked. “Yeah, it was great. Totally worth it,” I answered.