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Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Beginning of a Perfect Trip

The afternoon of Saturday, June 21--the day Paula and I arrived at Casa Consuelo in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte--was spent settling down at the resort and swimming at Hannah's Beach Resort. After a hearty lunch of bagnet and poqui-poqui, Paula and I walked to Hannah's, because Casa Consuelo is an island reef resort, and fronting it are protected coral reefs. The beach area at Hannah's, on the other hand, is open to the public, so off we went.

I've always loved going to the beach, even if I can't really swim (what I do is more of floating, hehehe). On that sunny afternoon in Pagudpud, the tide was high, so Paula and I didn't have to swim far from the shore. I loved the water. It was pristine blue, so peaceful, close to being magical. I wanted to drown out all the sounds around me and just stare at the sea and take in its enchanting beauty.

I love that boat, painted in primary colors. 

A bunch of people enjoying the sea at Hannah's

After three hours of swimming at Hannah's, Paula and I headed back to Casa Consuelo. And then, it started to rain! Good thing we were already close to Casa Consuelo, or else we'd become soaked in the rain (not that it would matter, since we were already drenched in seawater). 

We stayed in our room, showered, fixed our things, and rested. And then, the exhaustion from the 13-hour bus ride kicked off. Paula and I fell asleep, while it rained outside. 

I was then awakened by Paula because the rain had stopped, and two rainbows appeared in the sky. Not just one, but two! Still half asleep, I got my camera and stepped out of my room. Maybe I was already too late, because one of the rainbows had almost faded from the sky. But the other one was still visible, and I tried to capture it in my camera. 

I believe God sent this rainbow to bless Paula and I on this trip. It was as if He's telling us, "I'm going to make your trip perfect." And He sure did. 

For dinner, Paula and I ate grilled stuffed squid and dinengdeng. I must confess that those two are my favorites among the dishes we ate in this entire trip. And being the vocal and appreciative people that we are, Paula and I ate every spoonful with compliments said out loud. Haha! We couldn't help it. We kept on saying, "Mmmm, ang sarap!" (Mmmm, this is so delicious!), while stuffing our mouths with squid and vegetables. 

We capped the night by having tea on the porch (yes, our room has a porch!) and talking. And then, we saw paper lanterns being flown at the beach. Yes, paper lanterns, like those in the movie Tangled. And just when we thought the rainbow was enough bonus on this trip, paper lanterns came into the picture. It was just... wow! No wonder Paula and I went to bed last night with smiles on our faces. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Missing Pagudpud

It has been two weeks since my trip to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte with Paula, my officemate. When I catch my mind blank, I find myself reminiscing the three days and two nights we spent there, the sights we saw, and the short respite from the daily city grind that we got traveling up north.

To say that the 13-hour bus ride from Manila to Pagudpud was long is an understatement. I thought I could easily handle it since I was planning to just sleep through the bus ride. Yes, I did get some sleep, but I kept on waking up every time the bus would have its stopovers and the conductor would turn on the lights. But it was fine with me. After all, who wouldn't want to take a bathroom break, knowing that you were traveling in the middle of the night, and that your destination was still hours and hours away?

We left the Partas Bus Station in Cubao, Quezon City a little past 10 p.m. of July 20. By 6:30 a.m. of the next day, we were already in Ilocos Sur. Or should I say we were still in Ilocos Sur? We would reach Laoag, Ilocos Norte in two to three hours, and it would take us another two hours to get to Pagudpud.

During long hours on the road, I enjoy looking out the window. In Ilocos Norte, what I saw was a pretty good sight: a few houses here and there, green fields, and mountains that still have trees. Oh what a joy to see! The skies were clear and the sun was brightly shining as if welcoming us to the province.

When I saw a view of the sea from the bus window, I got excited and I no longer felt sleepy despite the long bus ride. I tugged at Paula's arm and showed her the view. We both marveled at the blue sea like it was a precious gem.

View from the bus window. The boats are so charming. 

When we got to Pagudpud, the bus dropped us off at one corner, where the conductor hailed a tricycle for us. The tricycle would take us to Casa Consuelo, Brgy. Balaoi, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, where Paula and I booked a room to stay at for three days and two nights. 

I couldn't remember how many minutes it took us to get to Casa Consuelo. It was probably more than 30 minutes. No surprise there, because Casa Consuelo, when I looked at it on the map days before our trip, is located at the northwestern tip of the archipelago. It was that far, and traveling on land for already 13 hours was exhausting. 

But when we got to Casa Consuelo, Paula and I both felt that the grueling land trip was so worth it. Casa Consuelo was a paradise. A paradise at the tip of the archipelago. It is more of an island reef resort than a beachside made for swimming. Therefore, when we got there, it was quiet and peaceful. Nothing greeted us except for the sound of the waves splashing on the seashore, the warm sea breeze, and the welcoming smile of Richard Tamayo, who runs Casa Consuelo together with his mom Armie. 

Casa Consuelo: A Paradise Up North

As we settled into our room, fixed our things, and ordered lunch, I felt that our trip was bound to be perfect. It was just our first day in Ilocos Norte, and I had already fallen in love with the province, thanks to what I saw, no matter how few they still were. And as the staff of Casa Consuelo prepared our lunch of Bagnet and Poqui-poqui, I looked around and felt at ease with the place. It was far, but it felt like home. 

And that's what I miss in Manila now that the rains are starting to fall.