I arrived at the small rickety pier at Quezon, a small town at one end of Busuanga. It was a little past 3pm and the tide had gone out exposing the tangled roots of mangroves and the sand.
I was with a team of 4 people from the university, our contact from one of the NGOs based in Coron town, and a few Tagbanua from San Isidro who were joining a worskhop we were facilitating. They had all met us at the airport from where we took the 2-hour van ride to this little pier after lunch at the eatery just outside the Arrivals. I slept most of the way, oblivious to all the bumps and the curves. From across the pier, I could see the island of Calauit. Nope, not the part of the island made (in)famous by the crazy dream of a dictator to establish an African safari in the tropics. We were headed to the other side where gentle dugongs swam and feasted on sea grass.
The most challenging part of the trip was getting down the bamboo ladder with rungs that were so spaced far apart.
Because the water was so low, the boats had to be pushed by two men from the pier to deeper water. We probably could have walked all the way to the other side. A few pushes on the shallow sea bed with his long bamboo pole and the boat had enough depth to start its engines. It took a while before the engine sputtered to life. One of the boats had already gone ahead and we were in the middle of the calm sea. What if we drifted out to the open? But the engine roared to life and we were on our way.
We docked at the small pier and headed to the Dugong Research Center, a 2-storey wood and thatch house where we were to stay for the next couple of nights. Never mind the very basic amenities, I was thrilled to be sleeping with the sound of the sea.
There was nothing much to do for the rest of the day so three of us decided to take a walk around the village guided by Bornok, a Tagbanua from San Isidro who has been to Calauit a couple of times.