Our third day in Paradise started off with some heavy rain. Actually, the monsoonish weather came the night before and lasted into the morning. We had planned an entire day of activities like island hopping and parasailing so things weren't looking good. But it calmed down a little bit and we decided to forge on with our plans. And I'm so glad we did because the weather cleared up!
Our first excursion was island hopping. We walked to the other side of the island with our tour guide, Elmer, and got on a small wooden boat. I may as well tell you now that I don't remember any names of the islands! So, before getting to an island, we stopped in the middle of the ocean. I was a little baffled and I thought the boat ran out of gas or something, but turned out we were docked to go snorkeling! I'd never been snorkeling before so I was nervous. I never learned how to swim, which is shameful. But even with the life jacket on, I get such anxiety being in deep water. Too many Jaws movies? It was really beautiful underneath the sea despite the fact that water kept coming through my mask and up my nose. Another cause of anxiety because I kept thinking I was going to drown. But it wasn't totally my fault. We didn't get any kind of tutorial before snorkeling. They basically just put us in masks and jackets and threw us in. But knowing to breathe through your mouth instead of your nose doesn't come naturally so I think that's why I was really anxious.
**Elmer, making sure I didn't die**
After snorkeling, the sun came out just as we landed at a new island. This place had a lot of interesting caves to explore. They weren't very big inside but the water was crystal clear. I was just trying not to bust my ass and float off into the ocean. I also picked a random statue's nose. I have no idea why I started doing that, but it makes me laugh when I look back on pictures.
Then we went to another island for lunch. The lunch itself was amazing - meat kebabs, fresh fish, salad, and a nice, cold beer. Perfect island food. I also spotted this little cutie running around along with some kiddies. The kids would dive for coins if you threw them in the water so I emptied out my wallet!
After island hopping, we went parasailing. I'd been two other times before and it really never gets old. But the wind was especially strong and we were just flying all over the place. It sounds like that would be fun, but it's quite horrifying when the only thing keeping you from plummeting to your death is a skinny ass string. Probably one of the most fun moments was riding in a speed boat. I'd never done that before and it's also a little scary but in a fun way.
Later, we went to dinner at Big Mouth then had drinks on the beach. I have a ritual for wherever I go. I have to listen to Sade. I can be on a plane going to a destination or actually at the location but it's mandatory. When I'm on a beach, then it's quite crucial. But the weather wanted to act crazy once again so as soon as I got my mojito, it started to sprinkle. But do you really think a monsoon is gonna stop me from drinking my mojito and listening to my Sade on the beach?! HELL NO!! That's why umbrellas were invented!
I was sitting out there alone after long because Kayla, not a diehard mojito/rain/Sade lover, wasn't amused by the climate. Ritchie kept coming out to check on me, which was nice. We actually decided to go out one last time. Around 11pm, we met up at Summer Place, a popular bar with live music and a small dance floor. But we just talked most of the time. I learned a lot about Ritchie and the life he's had growing up in the Philippines. Talking to him really humbled me because he's admittedly poor but he's "incredibly happy". He's happy because he has ambitions and dreams and he knows a lot of people can't even afford to dream. He paid for his Associate's Degree by offering to clean the building after hours. He lives for studying and really loves school, something you almost never hear American kids say. I know I sure didn't love studying or school.
Ritchie, much wiser than his 21 years, helps take care of his 6 other siblings and parents. He budgets his paycheck perfectly every 2 weeks, splitting it up between paying for his board, giving money to his parents, and food. There's not much money left for doing fun things, which doesn't matter so much because he loves to work and appreciates having a good job. But he didn't present all this information in a way to garner pity. He was just talking and when he asked me about my life and what it had been like, I was really shy to share. I'm not in any way ashamed of what my parents provided for me. If anything, talking to Ritchie made me that much more grateful. It's just that our lives couldn't have been more different - the have and the have-not. I probably spent in one day what he makes over 3 months. THAT is what brought me down to Earth. And yet, Ritchie is definitely the happiest person I've met. He just has this fire for life and what's out there. I could feel in him the same anxious energy that drives me, too. Just wanting to succeed and do something and be somebody. But he, much like me, doesn't realize that he's already doing so much. I felt really fortunate that I got to meet him and that we'll stay friends. I think he's a really good kid, a young spirit and an old soul living in the same body.
On our last day in Boracay, Kayla, Margot, and I went horseback riding up Mount Luho. For about an hour, we rented horses and had tour guides walk us along the path. I haven't been horseback riding since I was a little girl and now I know why - my ass was sore for 3 days afterwards! When the horse even jogged a little bit, I felt like my brain was rattling around, ready to spew forth from my head. It's just the most uncomfortable ride ever. But my horse, Apache, was really sweet and didn't have any problems. Now, Margot's horse, Black Beauty, was actually injured. My tour guide, whose name I can't remember, said that he had hit Black Beauty or something the day before and sure enough, the poor horse was limping and really struggling. I have a soft spot for animals. Not in a crazy PETA way, but they feel pain too. So I felt some type of way about us riding an injured, potentially abused animal, just for thrills. Anyway, it was still a good experience.
Ok, I'll wrap this up since my retinas are now bleeding. We also ate ostrich meat. Sounds crazy but we put a serious hurtin' on that bird. If you want some amazing beef-tasting, lean meat, I will suggest the ostrich each and every time. I wanted to slap the chef, the sous chef, the pastry chef, the waiter, the busboy....everyone up IN THAT KITCHEN for making such an amazing dish. I actually fell in love with Boracay...and I may be back sooner than you think! :)