We have already left Malapascua, but there is still so much to tell about it. It was a bitter sweet leaving with some excitement about traveling again and some sadness leaving the tiny island behind. We really grew to love the locals and understand their ways better the longer we were there. We loved all the children. Even the smallest ones always said Hello with so much enthusiasm. Many people knew our name even though they had never met us or spoken with us. We loved the bakeries! The ladies were always so nice and it was a great way to eat a cheap breakfast or snack. We even had our own pup on the island. It was a very sweet small brown dog with beautiful facial markings. She found Jeff one night when he was walking to dinner. She was trying to herd him, nipping at his heels and running in front of him. When he found me at the restaurant she was in tow. I gave her a long pet before our food came. She followed us down the beach on our way home, but when we left the beach she stayed behind. Almost every single day we made a point to go to the beach and find our sweet pup. She would see us and start running to us. I loved that sight so much! She would lean into one of us and just cuddle until it was time to go.
Low tide was a great time to go to the village beach and find the locals out looking for dinner. They gathered the hermit crabs and shell fish in buckets. The kids would go out just to play with whatever they found. One kid we saw was torturing these giant slug things and making them spit out ink. Another group of boys was scooping up the tiny fish in schools and separating them. Don't know why. Jeff says its because they are little boys. We finally found some time on the last night to go out and play too.
The cemetery on the island was very very strange. They have tombs stacked one on top of the other, you would think to avoid flooding bringing up bodies, but apparently that has failed. Bones can be found coming out of some of the crypts. A room at the back of the cemetery with a skull and "Do Not Enter" painted on the door houses all the bones that have come out of their crypts and been gathered in a big heap along with some trash. It was odd that no one took care enough to keep it clean. But of course my morbid curiosity gets the best of me and I had to poke around.
We also found a very sweet baby monkey on the island. It was a pet who had been put in a tree on a rope next to a restaurant half way up the island. Because he was so far from our main base we only got to visit him a few times. It wasn't until the end that I worked up the courage to get close enough to see what he would do (bite me, run, or jump on me). He immediately jumped into my arms and snuggled in. It was really hard getting him to go back to his tree. You could tell he was taken from his mom way too early. He couldn't get enough cuddling. I was holding him and Jeff came to stand beside me. The monkey took his sweet little finger and started to pick bits of sand off of Jeff's face. It was really sweet!
The food on the island was hit or miss at first but we learned quickly the good places to go and stuck to them the entire time. A place called Ging Ging's was one of our main staples apart from our own dive shop that has pretty good food, but a bit pricey. Ging Ging's had about 8 young girls as waitresses who always wore matching outfits. They get to know the people staying a long time and we give them a big sum of money and get our name in a book. This way we never had to carry cash, just come, eat, then deduct the amount written in the book. They had lovely pancakes and really good chicken curry and pork sizzling plates. When we wanted a real treat though we went to a restaurant called Isla Bonita that had some of the best pizza I think I've ever had and really good pasta. The waiter there was super nice which always made it even more enjoyable. I do miss certain things from home like broccoli and hamburgers, but I was happy to find some good food on the island.
We will miss our landlady, Teresa, dearly. The day before we left she came around waking us all up at 7:45a.m. because she had made us breakfast as our going away meal. We had rice, noodles with egg, corned beef, and egg rolls. Not exactly what I am used to for breakfast , but I was so grateful. She told us a bit more about herself as we ate. She said they had started out really poor as fisherman. She said she just got fed up with living like that and saved up 800 pesos (around $18) and started a store selling vegetables out of the front of her house. She has been relatively successful at it for the last 15 years. She said she had to stop giving the other villagers credit because they never paid her back, but she said she never held a grudge about it because she understands what it can be like. I think the world of this lady and feel so fortunate to have lived in her home.
The biggest outcome of being in Malapascua is that I am now a Dive Master! It was a long and hard road sometimes, but at the end it feels worth it. We went through the course side by side with a British guy and a Swedish girl who had met while traveling. We easily bonded with them and they are the reason we were able to move to Teresa's house. Chris is a fun loving funny guy who was often shirtless and who finds it hard to concentrate and tends to interrupt during class, but he made the whole thing far more enjoyable than it would have been. Emma, his lovely girlfriend, was so so sweet and a breath of normalcy in a group of what seemed to me like strange people. We all four got banned from doing the shark dive for 2 days after Jeff forgot his weight belt, an important part of diving (you can't go down without it), and Chris swam away from the group. Two very small things that got the whole lot of us banned. It is not uncommon to be banned from this site, but I certainly never thought I would! It's important, more than ever, on this site that you follow all the rules because of the shyness of the thresher sharks. Emma and I, however, had done absolutely nothing wrong but got banned anyhow. We of course didn't just take our punishment but put up a bit of a fuss. This got lots of people mad but brought us 4 closer. Eventually after some talks and apologizing everything was sorted out. I do feel like I got a good education, but I also know that I learn better in a nurturing environment and this was not always that. But it is over now, and we all four are now traveling for a few days together having a lovely time!
Jeff, Kristen, Alex (one of our instructors), Emma and Chris
The Dive Shop (Jeff and Chris are sitting out front)
The Beach outside the shop where we left from
everyday to dive.