Christmas in the tropics.
It was splendid, with only a few minor complications; like that sea urchin Nate insisted on stepping on. Ouch! I was lying down in our room, trying to recoup from "the sickness," that is what we are calling it for now, when my door is flung open and Holden says, "Mommy come quick, Daddy stepped on something!" I haul myself outside to see Nate sitting in misery with Felix, a helper at the resort, rubbing limes on his foot. He had taken Holden out to practice with the snorkel gear and stepped down onto a sea urchin. He then had to swim back to shore Holden in one arm the snorkel gear in the other and hopping on one foot. Must have been quite the sight really! Everyone was telling him to "Go wee wee on it," and while he was more than willing to do so to take the pain away, he didn't have to, so we waited and drank and waited...
This was on day one so needless to say, we didn't really go back in the ocean and stuck to land, rivers and swimming pools the rest of the vacation!
- Holden has that childhood intuition of finding nice people and while out to dinner he spotted a beautiful little girl named Felicity. Miss Felicity who turns 4 in February and her parents, Jon and Eva, are from the UK but live in Hong Kong and were also on Christmas Holiday in Panglau. Long story short, we all hit it off spending the better part of the vacation together. We were grateful for the adult conversation and humor and Holden was happy to have a playmate again. Hopefully we will see much more of the Wrights in the future!
We spent one of our days on an island tour which took us to see:
- The Chocolate Hills: We climbed the 214 stairs to the top observation area of the 1,268 perfect cone shaped hills. Geologists have not reached consensus on how they where formed. The most commonly accept theory is that they are the weathered formations of a kind of marine limestone on top of a impermeable layer of clay. At the end of the dry season, the hills turn chocolate brown, thus their name. The name Chocolate Hills was a little lost on the kids fully expecting to see something straight out of Dora the Explorer. Luckily we brought chocolate to celebrate the hills!
- The monkeys, the Tarsier to be exact which is the smallest primate in the world. It measures from four to five inches (about the size of a credit card.) While the kiddies quite enjoyed them, we were more than convinced that they were the inspiration for Gremlins, especially when they squint their eyes (it's kind of scary!) Oh, and they can move their heads almost all the way around!
- A boat ride down the Loboc River. A wonderful family we met here in Manila (they have survived here since 1989!!) happened be in Bohol over Christmas as well. We we met up with them and they gave us the scoop on the tour down the river and recommended a guide; Joseph. So, instead of taking the nice and easy tourist barge with lunch down the river, we opted for the small boat of adventure! We were able to go under and around the fresh spring swimming holes and waterfalls. In fact, Nate and Jon experienced a form of childhood Tarzan and took off up the cliffs with our guide to jump off above the falls and then again to slide down the falls. Eva and I (the responsible ones of the bunch) stuck with the kids and opted for a swim in the river.
We bought sea shells, had massages on the beach, met fabulous new friends, ate great food, had many drinks and enjoyed watching Holden have a new adventure. Amazingly Santa found Holden in Panglau AND Manila, and while Christmas wasn't quite the same without the food, family and snow. We did manage to have a Merry Little Christmas!