Walking up the jet bridge, it quickly became apparent that we were not at Singapore’s Changi Airport. The carpet, covered in spots by dirt, oil, or any number of other substances, was ripped and frayed along the passageway. I was reminded of airports in other countries like Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Panama. Utilitarian. Gray. Lacking the funds to provide some of the most basic of maintenance, but still managing to move people through the formalities of airport immigration and customs.
We quickly made our way through the small airport that is the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, past customs and immigration stations and into the mid-day heat. Now we needed to figure out how to get the 3 1/2 hours from Cebu City to Panagsama Beach. Fortunately, we didn’t plan ahead and the only information we could give the over-priced airport taxi was that we wanted a bus to Moalboal, the entry point for Panagsama Beach. After supplying multiple reasons why we did not want to pay for an extended taxi ride that would take “1 hour instead of the 4 hours by bus”, the taxi driver must have figured that he “got us” when he dropped us at the bus stop.
Unlike the buses we had passed on our way to the bus station, these buses had no aircon, no wifi, no bathrooms, and no windows. Fortunate for us. The ensuing 3 1/2 hour trip was one of the most memorable parts of our trip to The Philippines. Not having windows, the bus allowed a free flow of air and smells to pass through the bus. Nancy was like a dog on a hot summer’s day, her head out the window half the time and looking at me with a big smile on her face the other half. Cebu City and the smell of traffic slowly transformed into the smells of burning trash piles, roadside grills, dinner cooked in outside kitchens, and finally to the smell of the salty air as we traveled along the coast. Sharo and I looked at each other several times, confirming to one another that we felt as though we were “home” in Panama.
After nearly 4 hours with wind blowing through our hair, the bus dumped us on the side of the road in the bustling town of Moalboal, where we were immediately surrounded by 4 tricycle drivers attempting to win our business. After “negotiating” an exorbitant amount of P150 for a trip that we later found out should cost P50, we were loaded into the tricycle and on our way to find our friends The Nomadic Family – friends who we had no idea where they were.
After a bit of a search – and somehow remembering the name of the dive shop where Kobi was doing his Divemaster training (Savedra) – we were installed in our room at Anthony Beach Resort for the next 8 days. Anthony’s Beach Resort was ok, but like so many guest houses around the world, it could have been great if properly cared for. Situated in probably the best location in Panagsama Beach, it has amazing views from every room, and the guest house is literally on the water’s edge. If you are adventurous, and don’t mind a few quirky lighting designs or an owner who is a bit eccentric, I recommend Anthony Beach Resort. Be forewarned, however, this is not the Grand Hyatt.