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First Solo Camp-Out

Three years ago on a summer, I finally had the courage to fulfill a dream adventure of mine – camp solo!

The trip came in perfect timing as I had been feeling a need for another self-imposed solitude. Being away from familiar people can be such a liberating experience. Without the buzz of normal life, I am able to allocate time to think about stuff which I normally don’t delve in.

The place I chose was Anawangin Cove. I've been there several times (though, always with friends) and it has become one of my favorite places. It's like a second home, a place where I feel safe and at peace even if it has no cellphone signal or electricity. I've even made new acquaintances among the locals. I'm gotten pretty comfortable travelling to that place that I don't mind the 6 hours commute from where live.

I decided to go on a weekend as it never runs out of people on these days (I scare easily :P). The downside was, I had to rent an entire boat since I was traveling alone and could not find anyone to share a ride with.

After a four hour bus ride, a 30-minute trike toward the shore and a 45 minute boat ride, I finally reached my campsite. I strategically chose to pitch a tent that’s near a makeshift bathroom so I wouldn’t have to worry about a long hike when I have to do my business in the middle of the night.

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On my first day, I was able to swim and read a book which I haven't finished. It was The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I still wasn’t able to read the whole way through because I keep on dozing off. The breeze was so relaxing! And since time seemed to be moving on a snail’s pace, I was also able to do a lot of thinking and sound tripping with Dr Dre, 2pac and company. 

Hotel Bliss
The most dreaded part of the day came in the evening when the campsite became dark.

I was like a fearful child who believed in ghosts and spiritual elements. I managed to sleep soundly by listening to some more music but around 12 midnight, my slumber was rudely interrupted by a group at a nearby camp who was heavily partying. Everyone seemed drunk.

I tried ignoring them for a few minutes, but the noise became unbearable. Having fun is fine, but acting like you’re the only person in the world and yelling to your heart’s delight in the middle of the night is just disrespectful! The group was a few meters away from the caretaker’s house. They could have at least shown some courtesy.

I fumbled on my headlight, got my Swiss Knife (I wasn’t going to attack them or anything but I wanted to be prepared just in case something comes up). I let myself simmer outside my tent before I approached them. Fortunately, the group broke out for the night before I could reach them and again, there was silence.

I finally got my peace and quiet and immediately fell asleep.

I woke up the following morning a little before 6am to the sound of chirping birds, the gentle breeze and the sound of the waves gently crashing on the shore. After a few minutes though, someone yelled, “Gising na, andyan na ang mga Hapon!” – much for my peace and quiet.

Ignoring the noisy group, I grabbed some food and had a feast by the shore.  I settled for chips, dark chocolate, bottled water and the view of shirtless guys going for an early swim. This is the life!

Breakfast of champs?

Since I had nothing else to do, I decided to swim again. I chanced on some people – a pretty couple - Diane and Raymond and a friend of theirs. We spoke a bit and I told them that there’s a nice spot on the left side of the cove were marine life is abundant. They found the idea enticing and together, we swam farther from the crowd that had swarmed the island. We didn’t get to the spot I told them about due to strong waves. We had to settle at this part near the boulders. We were still able to see tons of interesting sea creatures. We chatted a little while we rested and after that we headed back to the camp for lunch. We parted ways as new acquaintances.

I was exhausted when I finally reached my tent but since I still had a couple of hours left before I needed to pack, I wandered near the shore again and ran into a fisherman I met the very first time I went to Anawangin Cove. We got chummy because he let me ride his boat and we went fishing with his wife. I remembered he caught tons of interesting creatures such as a stingray and a baby shark during that trip.

The last time we talked, he told me how much they’re struggling with their life. He told me how he missed Mindanao and how their life was so much better before they migrated to Zambales. Now he seems more relaxed and happier. He looked younger too. He was sporting a nice cap with the logo of a resort in Pundaquit  and  wore better clothes. He told me that he moved to a different fishing spot and he sometimes transports visitors from the resort. I was happy for him. Life is obviously better for him now.

The hour came when I had to go back home and I felt myself half wanting to be left in the island where it's peacefull and less stressful,  and half wanting to go back to my friends and family. It was a good mix of emotions.

When I  finally got home that evening, I felt reclaimed. I left the city a little dazed from the events that’s occurring around me. I needed the time to get away from everything, not because I am running away from it nor am I scared to face it. I just needed a breather, to be able to see things more objectively so I can create solutions instead of whining about it. It was a great decision and though I got some sunburn, I felt recharged  and ready to take on the challenges that lay ahead. 

*This entry was prepared as part of the  Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival for the theme, solo travel. Thank you very much Nina Fuentes of Just Wandering for compiling these. View the rest of the entries here.

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