So how is El Nido, that fabled place north of Palawan, when it decides to rain?
First, it doesn’t, and you are hopeful.
After all, you did sit through the eternity that it took to reach this place. You’ve read all there is to read online about it. Everyone wants to be here. Everyone who’s been here wants to return. A lucky few who visited have never left. So yeah, you’re damn optimistic and you can blame everyone but yourself for it.
And because of that, second, your heart almost leaps out of your ribcage as your boat slows down towards your day’s first stop—the first of surely countless lagoons and beaches, secret and hidden, big and small, you will be visiting that day and the next.
Third, you leave your first stop a little underwhelmed because there was a group of tourists who came in first, so the waters you swam in was, well, a little murky. And the clouds have started making an appearance—an ominous sign, but you think the heavens would be too cruel to rain down on you on this day, so NO, you brush it off and look forward to your next stop, mask and fins at the ready.
Fourth, not long after, however, you notice the waters starting to get a tad too violent for your liking. When you dock on your next stop, the surf crashing on the sharp rocks—which you have to negotiate to get to a cave—makes it difficult for you to even walk. And, well, is it just you, or does the cave look better in black and white?
Fifth, it starts to look like it’s going to rain very, very seriously.
Sixth, and true enough it does, just when you are on your lunch stop. So you end up with rainwater falling all over your grilled pork, steamed crabs, and watermelons, but you’re too famished to even care.
Seventh, you drink fresh coconut juice that just keeps on refilling, and you discover that wearing your life vest under the rain keeps you warmer.
That’s because, eighth, you’ve been riding on a boat that’s devoid of its roof, because the winds have attempted to blow it off its hinges (and probably kill you all in the process, so your boat crew decides to fold it up before anything of that sort happens).
Ninth, you swim in its waters (you still are on tour, remember?) and find it warm and welcoming. You actually dread going back to the boat, where the hostile wind is waiting.
Tenth, the rains drain what little color there is left of your surroundings until—
Eleventh, you start seeing nothing but a blanket of gray, and another boat lost in the seas. You secretly wish you do not crash head-on into a taraw, since there is absolutely nothing in sight.
Twelfth, you wait for the skies to clear up, praying for two things: that your boat crew knows what they are doing, and that lightning does not decide to strike where you are (because that’d be such an ugly way to die). No, you are not afraid of sharks. This is not The Beach, regardless of what you’ve read about its links to Alex Garland living in Palawan when he was writing the book. Or is it?
Thirteenth, you call it a day, and hope for sunshine the next day—the 13th of the month, a Friday.