I arrived at the ferry dock on Camiguin overwhelmed by touts overcharging me for transportation they didn't have (middlemen, in essence, aggressively negotiating an inflated price in order to flag down transport for me). Although in American dollars it means being overcharged by about $2, I hate this kind of interaction.
And, it's completely atypical of the people on Camiguin.
This is such a chilled out, friendly island. I am at the Enigmata Artist's Ecolodge, where Rosalyn, the artist running Enigmata day-to-day, has taken me under her wing. She knows practically everyone here, not to mention in Davao, talks a-mile-a-minute, and is bubbling over with energy and ideas.
The aesthetic at Enigmata is very DIY (do-it-yourself) whimsical, with artwork and fabric and natural/recycled decorative materials everywhere.
Every little nook and cranny has a dreamcatcher or a painting or a bottlecap sculture positioned there. I have a whole floor of the treehouse to myself, the Shell Garden suite, overhung with pretty shells, and a bed that is hung with white netting.
Netted bed at Enigmata
As I made new multilegged friends in the bathroom last night (yes yes they are more scared of me than I am of them, I know I know), I realized the white princess bed netting is functional as well as aesthetic. The floor is made of bamboo slats, and you take your shoes off before going inside to keep it clean. There is a pretty woven hammock, a table and chairs made out of local wood, and the old tree runs through the middle of the floor.
The pretty and creatively articulated interior of the Shell Garden Suite, Enigmata
The corners are dusty and fabrics are frayed around the edges, but this place is loaded with personality and charm. And for vegetarians visiting the Philippines, there is an unusual wealth of choices on the menu. My first day here, Ros made curried monggo (Filipino lentils) over a red rice that's native to Bohol. It was delicious. I also had thick wheat bread toast topped with wild ferns, cooked onions, and parmesan cheese, which was also really good. The mango shakes are fabulous too.
The meals are between about P80-P180/US$1.60-$3.60, very affordable.
I have never been anywhere with such intense humidity. It rained steadily the first day, and I feel like even at night things are still a bit moist, even with the fan on.
Camiguin is an interesting island, with a mountainous, jungle interior (with springs, and volcanos as well). Most people live around the shore areas circling the island. Enigmata is set slightly into the interior, and I feel like I'm staying in the jungle, teeming with life (eek).
Among her many projects, Ros teaches an ecotoursim class at the local Camiguin Polytechnic High School. For Camiguin Polytechnic arts and culture weekend, she's been working with her students to put on a performance about Camiguin culture, using theatre and storytelling to discuss environmental and history issues, in the local dialect. The kids were milling around Enigmata during the morning, practicing songs and rehearsing.
I lucked into watching their performance last night. For kids with no theatre or performance background at all, they surprised their friends and administrators with what they put together. The principal spontaneously cancelled classes the next day as a reward for all the hard work the students had been putting into the weekend overall. It's very cool to see young people putting forth such energy into an awareness of environmental issues. And although I didn't understand the dialogue, they were cracking up their friends in the audience with the humor in the performance. Among other skits, there were 2 guys with big styrofoam cockscombs on their heads, imitating a cockfight (cockfights are very popular activities on Sunday afternoons). There was also a Miss Camiguin Lanzones Festival skit, cracking up the audience (the Lanzones Festival is famous here), and an eco-awareness skit about oil spills polluting the environment.
Camiguin Polytechnic ecotourism class kids strike a pose
I further lucked out after the show by being invited along to a celebratory disco put on by the Camiguin Polytechnic teachers and administrators. Ros was my in, of course, I just tagged along with her on the back of a scooter. That was a funny scene, with some cheesy old-timey disco music playing while all the matrons and old guys danced.
When the dj flipped over to more current music, Ros's choreographer and his friends got out on the floor. It was a really fun night, though we sweated buckets and at some point had a mini-brownout.
It's amazing how easy it feels to do things here on Camiguin. I feel like this is really the essence of island life, right here.