Jody's Peace Corps Experience

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bohol for New Year's!

The Holidays have passed and we’ve all started the New Year off right, right? Well, I know my New Year started out in paradise! Three volunteers (one of whom had two friends from home visiting) and myself went to an island in the Visayas called Bohol. We stayed at a resort called the Bohol Bee Farm and it was AMAZING! The staff were the so hospitable, we had a driver who took us wherever we wanted to go, and the sites were breath taking. The six of us stayed 5 days and 4 nights in this little slice of heaven.

Check out all of my pictures by clicking on the photo album link to the right and viewing The Holiday 2006 photo album.

Day 1
Checked into the Bee Farm. They had lunch waiting for us and then we had a few hours to relax, check out our surroundings and wait for our messages. That’s right, also included with our stay was the most relaxing message I have ever gotten. They said it was only for an hour, but I’m positive it was almost an hour and a half! Amazing!

Day 2
The day was spent on a countryside tour of Bohol. We saw the Blood Compact, a shrine dedicated to a blood compact. I’m not sure who was involved…some Spaniard and some Filipino. Then we went to the oldest church in Bohol called St. Joseph the Worker Cathedral. It was old and musty with lots of mold on the walls. It looked like they were in the process of renovation, but it wasn’t going too fast.

We then made the hour drive up to the Chocolate Hills. You can take them or leave them, but it is a natural wonder how over 1200 hills are almost identically shaped. There are several folk tales about how the hills were formed. My favorite is that two giants were in love with the same woman and fought it out by throwing mud at each other. Supposedly the hills are the mud balls that missed their targets.

For lunch we boarded a river ferry. While floating down the river, we ate our meal and were serenaded by a solo, singing, guitar player. It started down pouring and made the experience even more surreal.

The last stop for the day was visiting the Tarsier Foundation. The tarsier is the smallest primate in the world and is only found in three countries. We took a guided tour through a natural habitat. The Foundation has 10 captive tarsiers. We were able to see a mother and her baby. The great thing about the Tarsier Foundation is that they have a breeding program in which they release any offspring into the wild after they are old enough to live on their own.

Day 3
We decided to spend the day at the beach. Another volunteer whose site is near the Bee Farm spent the day with us. We got sunburned and walked along the main road looking in the shops.

The owner of the Bee Farm gave us the option of going into town at their Café in the mall in Tagbilaran City.

Day 4
Wake up call was at about 5 am as we were going on a dolphin and whale watching tour. We were driven to a near by beach and then we were told that we had to walk out to a large bangka boat. While wading through the water to the boat, we saw several different sea creatures; sea urchins, starfish, lots of different seaweeds, etc. We boarded the boat and were off to hunt dolphins.

The boat crew scouted and found a few different pods of dolphins who usually swam away from the boat. Occasionally the dolphins would jump out of the water in the distance. After about 45 minutes of dolphin watching, the boat took us to a tiny, remote island called Pamilacan Island.

Nita met us at the beach and put a flower necklace around our necks. She then took us on a tour of the tiny island, pointing out various buildings of importance. Nita also told us the history of the island. The habitants of Pamilacan used to be whale hunters. Only six years ago was the last time they hunted Whale Sharks.

After the tour, some of our group when snorkeling while some of us opted to walk around the beach and swim. We were the only people on the beach and the water was so clear I could see to the bottom when I was shoulder deep in the ocean! We all agreed that we were in paradise!

Nita also prepared a fresh seafood lunch that consisted of Red Snapper and Barracuda that had been caught earlier that morning. We were resting after a great lunch when a storm suddenly blew in. We were stranded on the island for an extra 2 hours. All of us took the opportunity to take a nap in one of the native nipa huts that Nita had built for any over night guests she had. One of the boatmen finally came and got us and said that we would go now. The wind was still blowing hard, but the white caps had subsided. All of us boarded the boat and made it back to the mainland in one piece!

Day 5
We said our goodbyes to the staff. As a thank you gift, the owner of the Bee Farm sent all of us home with a half dozen muffins. We boarded our plane and said goodbye to Bohol.