Thursday, September 27, 2007
FELLOWSHIP OF THE FISH (DOS PALMAS, PALAWAN)
FELLOWSHIP OF THE FISH
(Part 4, Dos Palmas)
While we were still planning the trip, i was resistant to the idea that we stay at the bay cottages. What was so hot about staying at a cottage standing on stilts out in the open water? What if the high tide rose and rose and drowned us in our sleep? Or a wayward shark decided to ram the stilts and have us for a midnight snack? And so on.
As i was outvoted by my friends, we eventually did stay at bay cottage no. 8. And it turned out to be one of those small serendipitous things that spell the crucial difference between a so-so vacation and a truly enjoyable one.
Why? Because the clear waters beneath the bay cottages were teeming with fish, lots and lots of fish. And they weren't the Nemo-type fish better suited for aquariums. . .these were real fish that you could actually eat, and there were schools and schools of them frolicking in the water with nary a care in the Neptune world. (well, at least it seemed that way)
Pretty soon, R.C. got into the habit of asking the Dos Palmas staff for leftover bread, which we broke into little bits and started throwing into the water to feed the fish. Some of these guys literally leap to the surface and gulp down the bread, while others are more poised, and simply take a quick nibble at the floating bread.
At times, two or more fish collide with each other while in pursuit of our bread, which proved quite entertaining. To liven things up even further, we throw many bits of bread into the water simultaneously, and watch as around a dozen or so fish converge on the morsels. Wow! And just for kicks, once or twice we threw in a whole slice of bread, and the fish all furiously swam towards it, each one biting off his or her respective chunk. Talk of an underwater stampede!
There is just something oddly therapeutic about feeding the fish, its like time slows down. Eventually, we were feeding the fish in the morning, then whenever we were in our cottage during the afternoons, and then late in the evening after dinnertime. I think nabondat sila [they stuffed themselves to the gills], since during late nights they sometimes refused to bite into the bread anymore.
To illustrate how extreme this new hobby grew, i was soon taking bread rolls from the buffet spread just for our fishy friends. Then we noticed that some types of fish were slower than others, and thus always getting left behind in the race for the bread. So we tried aiming the bread bits very close to them, with positive results. Ahh. . .it's a great feeling knowing you've done your good deed for the year, haha :-D
Then yours truly hatched an evil plot. Why don't we catch the fish and have them cooked? We could spread some sunblock on the bread before throwing these into water, and as the fish gobbled them up, they would get dizzy from the chemical smell and weird taste; thus, easy to catch! Unfortunately, this brilliant plan didn't get off the ground, due to the inconvenient fact that Dos Palmas strictly prohibited anyone from catching the fish. Darn!
One sunny morning, we noticed that some schools of fish were gathered together in circles (see photo above). What could they be doing? We tried throwing bread in their midst, to see if they would pursue it.
Nope, they weren't biting. Absolutely nothing could disturb them.
So, what could they be doing? Were these fish all part of one big family, and it was their weekly Sunday morning get-together? What were they talking about? The latest weather report? The new neighbors two nautical miles away?
Not about those three bums throwing all sorts of stale bread at them, i hope.
(For the rest of the Dos Palmas series, pls. check out my blog at www.grumpyurbanslacker.blogspot.com)