Tales from Coco Beach: Getting There

This is part one of a series of posts about my stay at Coco Beach Resort in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, from June 10-12, 2006.

my sunglasses Since June 12 (Independence Day) falls on a Monday this year, Marielle and I decided to take advantage of the three-day weekend by going to a beach. Marielle had gone to Puerto Galera last April (on the weekend after our trip to Boracay) and loved the experience, so we decided to make the trip back with three of her officemates. However, instead of going to the very public and popular White Beach, we booked a stay at the private and secluded Coco Beach Resort.

At 6:30am on Saturday morning we were at the Manila Hotel, the pick-up point for our bus ride. There were already a group of people waiting there for the same bus, and we were all dressed for the beach — flip-flops, shorts, tank tops, and the works. Since we couldn’t very well wait outside the hotel entrance, we decided to go in and wait at the lobby. As we entered through the hotel’s varnished wooden doors, we had to go through an airport-style security check: metal detectors and luggage x-rays. Then the woman at the metal detector looked us up and down and sniffed, “We have a dress code here. You can’t come in here.”

We were aghast. There were no signs posted about any dress code. “You mean, we can’t even use your restroom?” we asked plaintively. It was a strange way to make potential guests welcome. I felt affronted and commented, “Well, just put us somewhere you can hide us so we don’t ruin your beautiful hotel.”

A middle-aged lady who came in behind us told the woman, “If we were foreigners you wouldn’t even have said a word.” A few minutes after we had taken seats off to the side, some blonde foreigners cruised in through the doors and lingered in the lobby talking among themselves before making their way to one of the hotel’s restaurants. We were still miffed at this double standard when our bus arrived to collect us, but the four-hour bumpy road trip to the jetty port in Batangas pushed our hostile thoughts into the background as we napped, listened to music, or watched cheesy fantasy flicks on the bus’s television screen.

At the jetty port (which was really nothing more than a glorified pebble beach), we clambered into a twenty-foot long wooden banca boat for the 60-minute ride to Coco Beach. We arrived with the tide out, so our banca couldn’t approach the beach. A speedboat was dispatched from shore to fetch us and our things, and we finally landed on the island at noontime.

Coco Beach: morning view After receiving a free coconut drink and our keys, we walked to our cottage. “Climbed” might be a more appropriate word, since our cottage was nestled midway up a hill and it took us fifty steps on a narrow cement staircase under a scorching sun to get there. The view was worth the sweat.

To be continued…

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