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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Chasing Waterfalls

I met a girl who decided to quit her bank job in London and move to Italy. She is going to live in her family's heritage home in Sicily and teach pasta-making to tourists.


What a life!


Her story was so incredibly inspirational. I love it when I hear of people following their dreams.

Now that's all I want to do. Move to Sicily and teach people how to make pasta.


Too bad I don't speak Italian, I don't know how to make pasta and I'm a horrible cook.

It would be very interesting to see how many people would sign up for my course.


Agreed?


Once I was out of the nasty Cebu traffic, life on my steel stallion became less hectic and much less frightening. In saying that... it didn't mean that I didn't feel the fear of my own finish with every rev of the throttle. Let's just say that I never went in "too hot."


The narrow roads could be quite crowded and chaotic. There were potholes, pedestrians, gravel cliff cut offs and other assorted obstacles to contend with... and as far as I could tell, no real traffic rules. None that were properly acknowledged, anyway. Poor maintenance seemed to be a significant cause of accidents and delays. I don't think I saw any drivers paying particular attention to any lane markers and I saw more ambulances than police. Driving here required my full attention... and patience. Much patience.


I managed to survive... though barely.

My first stop was: Tumalog Waterfalls


It was a bit confusing on arrival. Once I figured out where to park, I just followed the people. The first thing I noticed were about 200 motorcycles circling around a large tent. People were standing underneath, waiting in a line up to jump onboard and zoom away. I asked the guy, who looked like he was in charge, how far the falls were. 600 meters.


Not far at all!

I can walk that.

So I figured, anyway.

The walk was short, yet, but exceedingly steep. All at once, I understood the need for motorcycles. The steep decline was not great for my knee at all.


**I know I complain about my knee a lot... but brace yourself, because more is headed your way.


The fee for the motorcycle ride didn't seem so stupid anymore. I should have been wiser.


I basically tip-toed my way down to the falls, ever cognizant of each treacherous step. 600 metres took a long time, but I wasn't in a hurry and I definitely wasn't in the mood to overexert.

Once at the bottom, there was a small hut where staff were collecting fees to visit the falls. Excellent business strategy. Get 'em down first and then pillage.


It was quite crowded at first, but the longer I stayed, more & more people began to disperse. I even got a couple photos which gave the impression I had the entire falls to myself. That was not true. At all.


It was breathtaking... this magestic and powerful cascade. Just looking up to watch the sheer drop of the water was enough to hypnotize anyone with its beauty and grace. Stunning.


I opted for the motorcycle ride back up to the top.


My next stop was: Aguinid Waterfalls


This was a tricky one. I had full intention of seeing as many of Cebu's waterfalls as I could on this day. Unfortunately Aguinid ended up being my second... and my final.


When I arrived, everything about it resembled the same ole tourist stop. Some smoothie stalls and a few souvenir shops. Just up a small hill was a little booth for collecting payment.


Once I'd paid the required amount, they set about suiting me up with mandatory gear, which included a climbing helmet and a lifejacket. They wanted to give me aqua shoes too, but deemed the shoes I was already wearing to be appropriate for my experience.

Whoa... experience??? Where was I going?


They also encouraged me to leave all my belongings behind. That was a bit of a trigger for me. Everyone knows how terrified I am of being seperated from my personal belongings. I had actually taken an enormous step that day and opted to leave my computer at the hotel. I had gone to painstaking lengths to hide it from any rapacious crooks... and I was continuously checking its location on my phone. There was no way I could possibly be expected to walk away from the rest of my things.


No... those were fighting words.


The staff were pretty persistent though and kept insisting it would get wet.


Hmmm...


I argued every point.

~ I could hold my things over my head.

~ I wouldn't go near the water.

~ Everything I had was waterproof.


All fabrications, of course, but I was desperate...

It really took a lot of convincing, but I eventually, and very hesitantly, handed over my bag. The thought of it not being there when I returned petrified me...

My guides were Ruanna and Johnathan. I felt slightly more confident knowing I was with people whose names, when amalgamated, made my name.


Well.. let me tell ya...


Aguinid Falls wasn't just a waterfall... it was an adventure. This unique area offered eight incredible levels of turquoise blue water and rock formations to explore. Eight. Waterfalls.


In case anyone is confused about the situation... seeing eight waterfalls means you have to CLIMB eight waterfalls.


I didn't make it to eight.

At five, I had to pull the plug.

It was exhilarating climbing up waterfalls and jumping down into the cloudy, turquoise puddles of waters... but this one absolutely annihilated my knee. If I thought it was problematic before... I was in for a whole new level of ouch.


I love waterfalls... and I was desperate to visit them all, but with every climb & crag, each groove & go, each scramble & scale, nature's stunning scaffoldings were shattering my stride. I could literally taste the suffering creeping in.


All strength and stability were gone.


How many times have I said that I'm through with adventure tourism?

~ I flipped an ATV over myself.

~ I dislocated my arm ziplining.

~ I'd been grabbed & groped by a mountain gorilla.

~ Now I'd murdered my knee scrambling up waterfalls with nothing but a scrawny rope to save my sorry ass.


No more...

It's over.

I When I had finally completed my descent, it took almost everything I had to lift my leg over the seat and onto my steel stallion.


No more clambering up rock walls & water towers.

O.V.E.R.


I'd read about a little café close by, that was beach front and sounded like a delightful place to relax, regroup and rest my ligaments. I ordered a smoothie which looked delicious on their laminated picture menu. They accidentally brought me a Blue Hawaiian, which was hilariously ironic. I didn't complain.


I think the server figured I needed something to take the edge off. If so, he assumed correctly.


As the day grew to an end, my knee grew to astronomical proportions. It was swollen, tender and shattered beyond recognition and the limits of regular usuage. I was forced to do absolutely nothing... but cringe... and pop pills. I even ventured out to find a pharmacy for some anti-inflammatories.


Poor me.

Oh well. I'll get over it.


Speaking about adventure tourism... I had originally intended to swim with the whale sharks.


Ok... hear me out on this...


Had I been given the opportunity to join a group tour- and had been required to pay in advance, I probably would have gone out of financial obligation. BUT... I had to actually get up - on my own - drive there AND wait in a long queue until they opened. Of course, I would have waited... but apparently it's very busy. The girl at the front desk counter told me I had to get there really, really early if I wanted to get in.


What's really early?

5AM!!!

This was seeming like more of a feat that I was prepared for.

Ok... fair enough... I was intent on going on Sunday. Then she reminded me that it was a weekend and perhaps it would be too busy. Maybe I should be there earlier.

Earlier than 5AM?

IS there such a thing??


So I decided on Monday instead. Well... just as my luck normally has it, Monday was a holiday.


Ok... Tuesday?

Tuesday it shall be.


By the time Tuesday came along, I had had ample time to weigh the pros and cons.


Pro -

Swimming with these enormous gentle giants.

A definite bucket list item.

A unique experience.


Con -

Obscenely early start.

Ugly line up.

Swimming with SHARKS. I know they're whale sharks... but fear is fear!

Open water. Always terrifying.

Potential of other sharks coming to get me. There are dangerous sharks in the Philippines. If you don't believe me... read here.

Crowds of people.

What if I got left out there like that Australian couple in 'Open Water?'

Is this even ethical????

My knee hurt.


When my alarm went off at 4:3oAM, I had already made my decision to forgo the bucket list experience.

And what did I just say about adventure tourism and me????


No. More.


I'm loving the Philippines but, as per the norm, I've had my share of problems.


Yes. The usual.


One day, my steel stallion refused to start. Can you even imagine my stress? Had I broken it? It didn't matter what I did, othing worked. I even had the entire crew of my accommodation out trying to assist me. Would I ever get my Canadian Citizenship card and my $25 back???


I had to phone the guy who rented it to me and he had to walk me through the steps of fixing it. Nightmare.


I was beginning to suspect this wasn't exactly the high-priced power machine that they'd made it out to be. I think someone's personal moped was pulled out to make a quick buck.


Although my hotel was an eccentric world of unique & captivating creations and located right beside the beach,.. it was also right next to party central. My window looked directly down on to party central. These drunken louts kept me up ALL night with their hollering, crooning and hacking. When they finally settled down, the dogs began to bark.


I think this was a contributing factor in my decision to not partake in whale shark swimming.


There are ants everywhere and I'm beginning to think that I'm actually their own private ant hill. Like... I'm ant planet central. I don't get it. I don't have any food on me (that I'm aware of) and I'm not blocking their path. I kill a lot of ants ON ME, on the regular.


Fun, huh?


Who wants to travel with me?

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