I love the above picture.
It’s a photograph of my wife, Ellie, floating effortlessly, on her backside, downstream in the Nabaoy River here in the Philippines.
It’s the kind of activity that we’ve done less of since our world, and everyone else’s, was rocked and forever changed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Sure, we’re still enjoying our early retirement overseas, living on a tropical beach, immersed in a foreign culture – but things have changed. Sadly, the kind of care free travel excursion described in this blog post is becoming rare in the new world of quarantines, health checks, social distancing and face masks.
To be honest, even this easy day-trip from our current seaside apartment in Malay, Aklan on Panay Island, Philippines to the nearby park-like, river swimming area isn’t without some hassle.
New normal protocols
Of course, we must wear our masks as soon as we leave our property. Plus, when riding in the tricycle ‘taxi’ (a motorcycle with big sidecar) we have to sit separately.
Then to enter the ‘neighborhood’ where the small riverside resorts are, we have to sign in with local authorities at a checkpoint (in case contact tracing is ever required). And today, we had to pay a dollar each too! The ten-minute trike ride itself is $1 (50 Pesos) from the main road to the river area.
We have come to this spot on the Nabaoy River before; no admission charge last month. It’s a very beautiful and relaxing place just a couple miles from our temporary pandemic home.
In fact, we spent our wedding anniversary (ten days ago) along the same stretch of river – where hand-piled rock dams have been built to slow the water and create huge, shallow, crystal clear pools; great for splashing and soaking and beating the jungle heat.
Peaceful river in Philippine jungle
Further, the lovely nipa huts that are sprinkled along the winding, chilly, fresh-water river provide perfect shade, nice views, and handy picnic seating.
Low-priced cold beer and other drinks and snacks are offered at the handful of small resort / restaurant properties too. There are a couple bamboo foot-bridges to cross the water – but wading is also easy.
This time we arrived around noon on a Wednesday – and aside from a few local residents who wandered through and a family bathing and washing clothes in the river, we mostly had the place to ourselves.
Incidentally, it is a great place for kids. The pools are only two to three feet deep and the current is slow. Be advised: weekends are busier and the water can be higher, faster, and muddy after heavy rain events.
We lounged the day away – again. Alternating between drinking beverages and munching on our mangoes, chips, cheese, and nuts (which we shared with “One Eye” the dog) and sitting in the cool, refreshing river water. Walking / wading the half-mile section of waterfront resorts and huts is a good time too; water shoes recommended.
Great slow travel spot
In all, both visits were truly pleasant and fun and a throwback to the kind of hyper-local, off-the-beaten-path attractions that we have enjoyed throughout our pre-pandemic global wandering. I miss those adventures with Ellie. And personally, I look forward to hanging out riverside some more during the coming months we expect to be in this area.
And of course, if and when the world is ‘right’ again, should you ever happen to be visiting or passing through this part of the Philippines (not far from famous Boracay), we highly recommend a few hours at the simple, natural, and enjoyable Nabaoy River resorts.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!