Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Discovering the Familiar, A Mini-Vacation

The year is about to end and I still have some vacation leaves left. It'd be a waste AND a sin not to avail of it, even if it's down to a measly eight precious days left. So, I decided to take four days off this month and before Christmas, another four days.

I had really wanted needed a vacation but had no destination in mind, and not to mention, limited resources. That won't stop me, though. No budget? No problem! I decided I'd play tourist in my own city/province; see things with a different set of eyes, gain new perspective.

The boyfriend was also able to get a leave from work so we decided we'd drive up to the mountains and enjoy a whole three days there. Hey, I'm always up for a road trip! Nothing but the open road lay out before us, with endless sugarcane fields on both sides of the road and a stark blue sky up above, our mini-vacation was proving to be relaxing from the onset.

I especially love the sights on a road trip to Mambucal, particularly the road-side cemetery near the town of Murcia (one of these days I will stop by that cemetery and take photos) and the bridge above the Twin Rivers, which I've come to call Marlboro Country only because the scenery makes me imagine that the iconic Marlboro man will appear at any moment with a herd of wild horses galloping across the shallow rocky river. Seriously, that's what I see in my head whenever I pass by that site.

Now I've been up to the Mambucal Mountain Resort countless times already, most of the time playing host to some out-of-towners. I've trekked up the falls a number of times and went as high up as the seventh falls once. I've circled the resort, went to the butterfly garden, and enjoyed numerous dips in the sulfur dipping pool, and because I've been there so many times, it'd probably be one of the last places I'd think of staying in for vacation. But, like I said, I wanted to see things from a different perspective, and besides I've never stayed at the resort overnight. I wondered how it would be like at night.

Suffice it to say, it was a refreshing three-day, two-night stay up in the mountains. I tried to savor every minute of it. Waking up every morning to birds chirping in chorus and the distant roar of the waterfalls, and having breakfast and coffee with lush foliage as backdrop was food for the soul, and boy was I full! It was also fun driving down to the local nearby market to buy meat and fish, which we later grilled for our lunch and dinner. (Food at the resort, as expected, is always overpriced. The local market is friendly and cheap and makes for great immersion. Hehe.) Grilling our own food was also a great way to bond, although it was the boyfriend that did most of the cooking because I can't even clean fish to save my life, haha.

After a good night's rest on the first night, we woke up energetic and adventurous on the second day, ready to take on the mountain! We hiked up to the sixth falls only though because by then we were exhausted as hell. So much for energy. Haha. The seventh falls is another good thirty-minute hike from the sixth, and although the terrain up to the seventh isn't as demanding as the trek up to the sixth, it seemed like too daunting a task for us already. Wuss, I know :p

We spent some time by the sixth falls, cooled down in the refreshing spring water and envied the fearless risk-takers jumping by the falls, which was more or less a 15-foot jump into 9-foot deep water. I really wanted to try to "soul-fly" and our tour-guide even jumped in, nonchalantly might I add, to show me that there was nothing to be afraid of. I just couldn't get past the fear and I felt like I needed more encouragement (haha) so I just contented myself with watching the others take the plunge. Next time, I will. It's not even a maybe. I will! 

By our third and last day, we decided we'd swim in one of the resort's pools, which was free for the duration of your stay if you get a room/cabin. We found ourselves swimming laps and challenging each other, with Carlo occasionally correcting my freestyle and being really efficient by pointing out what I was doing wrong. No wonder I'd get tired easily doing the freestyle, I was doing it wrong which affected my breathing. And oh, the boyfie looked hot swimming (*wink wink*). He was a swimmer in his early years in college...daw. Hehe.

Life can't get any better than the weekend that was! Time was virtually non-existent! And I was "signal-free" the whole time. No phones going off, no messages, I didn't even have use for a phone! Nothing was more important than the moment we were in. The luxury of being able to get away and disconnect from the clutter and reconnect only with what's essential. Although my body does feel a wee bit sore from all that trekking and swimming, I'm loving the pain. I feel...healthy. Haha.

Also, this particular vacation holds a special place in my heart. Carlo and I got to talking, joking and bond more than we'd ever before. I am reminded that life is sweet. And oh, I learned another one of his three fears, which I am sworn never to reveal (unless...haha, kidding!)

So yes, vacationing isn't just about the place. It's a state of mind. You can vacation anywhere, even in your own city or province. I've been to Mambucal before but I've never enjoyed it the way I did this past weekend. Here's to discovering the familiar and new perspectives :)

Photos of the weekend-that-was below:

The resort at night is peacefully quiet. This is the bridge that leads to the Sulfur Dipping Pool.
The resort's not as bright as the photo, btw. This was just shot with a super slow shutter speed.

Woke up every morning and had breakfast on our little patio under this green canopy
The "conservative" boyfie said I should just leave my top on...
...but I was able to convince him otherwise :p
Our tour-guide fearlessly doing what I had wanted to do, hehe
The boyfie's yummy marinade. This was lunch and dinner for us :)

Ibos!!! Or in Tagalog, suman. It was the perfect desert for the feast we had prepared :)
On our way home, me a happy girl :)

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