A Week in Puerto Galera

We’ve been here for more than a week now, in one of the most beautiful bays in the world, and we’ve spent most of that time staring into our laptops. Some of the local guys make fun of us that we come to such a beautiful place and instead of admiring the wonderful local flora and fauna, we spend the whole day on our boat playing with a computer. On the other hand, we have the privilege to do the work that feeds us at such a gorgeous place.
Naturally we want to get out and explore, but we are also excited to announce that we have finished the translation of the second novel by the Taiwanese author Li Ang, the famous Butcher’s wife. This novel has been translated into many languages, but the Czech translation was still missing. Now it’s ready and will be published by IFP Publishing this autumn.
Now we can finally take few days off, well, we are going to take few weeks.

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First we took care of Janna. Refilled the battery water, refilled diesel and LPG and took care of a handful of other small maintenance items. This took the whole morning during which Jana managed to re-read 40% of our translation, scanning for few last mistakes… we don’t ask “what page you’re at” anymore, “what percent you’re at” became more common… Long live Kindle and electronic books! What we would do without you on our small boat!
Since we mentioned diesel, we should also disclose the destiny of our fuel intake. We tightened everything up again, particularly the copper tube that exists the fuel tank, which we neglected the first time and same as before, we were able to pump the diesel out of the tank with only hand pump and when started the engine purred like a happy kitten. Seems like the connection gets loose due to the engine vibrations. We will keep a close eye on it and continue exercising a defensive navigation by staying away from danger as if we only had the power of our sails (and we long for an oar, which we will get soon). Anyway, we were happy that we were able to find the problem (fingers crossed) and that we can enjoy Puerto Galera without worrying about stinky matters such as diesel fuel. But now back to the pleasures of leisure times.
In the afternoon, we hauled our folding Dahon bikes from the forepeak and took a ride in the club launch to the shore. Immediately we were swarmed by people. We knew the reason, because our bicycles attract a lot of attention. We would like them to be more hideous or more average looking, but what can we do. We needed something small that would fit into the boat and they make the small things so techno, some would even say cute. Product designers out there, think of a folding bike, that would look ugly and deter rather then attract, will you. When we showed our bikes (with due pride) to our cruising friends from big catamaran Céluan, they smiled and wished us good luck. “Hope you can keep such nice bikes long enough to really enjoy them. This is what your bike should look like to prevent them being stolen,” they showed us their old cheap mountain bikes dripping with rust and dirt. “We keep them in the sail locker, so they are regularly sprayed with sea water. No one will even stop to check them out.” So far the bikes have been of a great value to us and we will miss them if they fall into hands of someone else, but we have prepared ourselves for that eventuality. After all, if we loose the bikes, we will have more space in the boat, we comfort ourselves in advance.

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But we still have them and this day we were going to give ourselves a good workout. After all that sitting on the passage and then while finalizing the book, we really needed to stretch our legs.
We took a quick look at a map and decided to scout the base camp of diving, Sabang. We knew it’s not far and we expected few hills in our path. It really was quite close, but the hills were steeper than we thought. Our 8 gears were but a joke against those slopes. Not to mention the “tropical heat” forecasted for these days and when they do this in the tropics, they mean only a little less than 40 degrees Celsius.
Fortunately, most of the road is covered by coconut palms and banana trees, so one could say that it was actually quite cool, if it wasn’t so damn hot. There was hardly a thread dry on our clothes.
We ascended the hill heroically, sometimes paddling, sometimes walking, but all the time being watched by Filipinos and tourists as they darted by us. We got all kinds of stares, from entertainingly amused, compassionably grinning, to disproving frowns. True, you won’t see many people on bicycles here.
Finally, after one last but very steep descent we reached Sabang. To our dismay, we were greeted by hordes of Filipinos offering us everything from motorbike rides, to massages, rooms and diving lessons. They kept their distance though and we kept our momentum. We lost both when we reach the final destination, the beach. Or should I say the parking lot. From the muddy parking lot full of those small retro looking buses, tricycles and motorbikes, we watched the parking lot for diving bangkas on water. From time to time one of the boats darted out full of seals clad in black neoprene, snorkels sticking out behind their ears, bottles full of compressed air shining on their backs.

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Motor vehicles of all kinds were everywhere and so were the barkers, also of all kinds. They closed in on us and we started to gasp for air. First round was about our bikes, second round about what we are going to buy from them, the third round we started to find an opening through which we could escape, which was followed by suggestions where we should go and guesses where we want to go. Neither was right on spot. We didn’t have the heart to tell them that all we want is to get out of here.
Right before the last slope that lead us to Sabang, we noticed a road sign and a road leading to Coco beach. We went for it. The concrete road soon ended and we ended up on a small steep path going through a jungle. We thought about it for a while and then decided to try another beach, which we have since discovered, called Lalaguna. We wanted to dip in the sea and we chose the path of the least resistance.
Lalaguna is a small village fringed with resorts and diving shops along the beach. Quite peaceful, no hustling, just few guests snorkeling around and few diving bangkas at the other end of the beach.
We were ready to jump into the water, but the fine sand full of red coral pieces turned into a dump full of small broken coral twigs and one had to walk slowly and chose his steps wisely. When we reached water we could walk on larger and smoother coral heads and soon we were in a waist deep water and nothing could stop us from dipping in.
We turned our faces down and watched the life below us, then wallowed in the sand full of small coral grains and then in water again. You know how it works.
Later in the afternoon, we reluctantly recollected our bikes and started to climb the slopes again. Luckily for us, from this side the slopes were really steep, far steeper than we could scale on our bikes, so we have to find excuses to walk our bikes. And since the hills were steep, we soon reached the tops and then it was a downhill ride.
When I say downhill ride, don’t envision a gung ho biker, with sprung axles, free-falling down a face of a hill, cheeks flapping in the wind. You get a better picture if you think of your grandma, squeezing brakes all the way from the top so that her scarf doesn’t fly away and the wind doesn’t mess up her perm.
But to our defense, we have the spirit, but our bikes are not made to withstand three meter jumps over gaping holes in a concrete road.
We made it home safe, spread ourselves in the cockpit and started to plot explorations for the next day…

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