Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
First stage of my Philippine journey: the southern tip of the island of Leyte. For dives in Sogod Bay, in the hope of crossing the road of a whale shark…
The few tourists in the area are there for that too. Sogod Bay is known for being frequented by these nice giants of the seas.
I dream to meet again this huge shark (that I saw once in Thailand, in 2006). It is the largest fish in the world (it can exceed 10 meters, I refer you on Wikipedia) and he is totally harmless to the man (he has no teeth and feeds on plankton).
But for now, nothing! Already three days that I dive in Sogod Bay, without having crossed the shadow of the tail of a whale shark. At the same time, it's not a big deal. The coral is superb here, remarkably preserved. And the tropical underwater fauna abounds.
I indulge in nudibranchs (sea slugs) unpublished, toad fish and other critters, including a nice snake "striped knit". A tiny pink hippocampus-pygmy has even been found today.
There are not many divers on the sites. Barely two or three resorts operate in the area. And then this part of the island, away from the tourist circuits, is not so easy to reach. Ferry schedules from Cebu, the central island of the Visayas, where the airport is located, are more than random.
Mine, the 6pm Cebu-Bato ferry that I thought I was going to take when I got off the plane, had, as if by chance, been replaced by another one... at 1:30pm. Which I missed. Tough luck. No boat to Bato...
I went for the 9:00, with bunks on deck for the cheapest tickets. But me, I travelled with the rich, in a tiny cabin called First Class, with four berths with TV (!) and air conditioning like a fridge. Arrival in Bato at... 4am!
Fortunately I was able to call Sogod Bay Scuba Resort (SBSR) who I had e-mailed before leaving, and they sent a guy to pick me up before dawn by car from the boat. Then an hour or so drive from Bato to Padre Burgos, a tiny town at the crossroads of two roads, near which the resort is located.
Dead Coral Beach and Sunday Mass
In this season, the wind is blowing hard every day on Sogod Bay. On the beach of dead corals, big sound waves crash non-stop and rock my sleep. My room is facing the sea, in a nice lady's house that welcomes tourists for the resort, just next door. I like it so much to be there. My terrace is more intimate than that of the SBSR's side by side rooms.
On my right, I discern in the mist the blue shadow of Limasawa, the island where Magellan landed. It was there that the first Spanish Mass was celebrated in the Philippines in 1521 ... First stage of the Christianization of the country.
I live right in front of a chapel, which I hadn't noticed at the time when I arrived at dawn on Sunday morning. I collapsed on my bed, exhausted, and a few hours later, joyful songs woke me up. It was Sunday mass.
In front of the chapel there is a large blackboard with the words "Welcome visitors 2008". Inside, a karaoke atmosphere, with a guy at the microphone to get the faithful to sing a catchy tune, everyone standing with arms raised, with words to follow, written on a white board in the background.
Those in the back rows turned around with smiles and nods to watch me approach the door. A little man came to shake my hand and offer me a ride... but I was hungry. I didn't stay. I waved to everyone like the Queen of England, and ran to the resort for breakfast.