Part 2: Easter Week in Batanes – Sabtang Island

April 8, 2010

Zoom in on me, looking VERY CRABBY as I waited to board our boat to Sabtang Island.  Here’s the back story…I woke up at 5:30 AM so that I could be ready to join the group at 6 AM to leave for our tour.  We drive 30 minutes to the boat dock and proceed to sit there for another 45 minutes, at which point we’re told that no boat is coming there today and we need to go to a different dock.   ARGH.

So I’m wishing and hoping that we’ll just waltz over to the other dock and hop right on the waiting boat.  WRONG – I should have known this would be a cluster-f***.  Our trip had gone too smoothly and whenever things go too smoothly, there’s bound to be something that explodes.  Zoom in on the new port where 70+ individuals are all waiting to get on a 30 person capacity boat.  I start digging through my memory banks to recall all the tragic stories I’ve read about Filipino ferries sinking after being overcrowded.  I make a decision that I will NOT get on an over-loaded boat and die at sea today.

Turns out I wouldn’t have the choice to get on that first boat trip.  I had the opportunity to wait two hours for the boat to go there and come back for us.  Warning: UGLY AMERICAN characteristics starting to come out.  I just couldn’t help it.  I had gotten up at the crack of dawn, waited at the wrong dock and was now told that it would be another 2 hours!  Beam me back to bed, Scotty…

We were encouraged to go to the Honesty Cafe instead, so I thought we might as well make the most of it and check it out.  Let me just tell you a bit about the Honesty Cafe – it’s owned by an elderly couple that stock the shop, but here’s the crazy part – no one mans the shop.  It’s an on-your-honor thing where each item has a price on it and you write it down in a ledger and deposit your money into a box.  And here’s the craziest part…it works here!  Why?  Because the island has a ZERO crime rate, a stat they are very, very proud of (who wouldn’t be)!  Can you imagine?  Oh, but you better have small bills for the honesty cafe, because no change is given.

Little did I know that the fun hadn’t even started yet…when we finally got on the boat at 10 AM with 30 other individuals, we were told that the ride would be a bit rough since we were out on the ocean.  A bit rough was a severe understatement.  The boat was more like Noah’s arc than a ferry.  It had a wide berth and would roll from side to side with the waves, so there were times when you’d be laying at a 45 degree angle with your back plastered against the ship’s side.  A good mental image to describe it: the pirate ship at Valleyfair.

The beginning was okay but when we reached the mid-way point it started to get rough.  The swells were astronomical.  There were several times when we’d be down in a trough between two major waves and I couldn’t see anything but water.  It was insanity…. I should probably tell you at this point that I am a bit of a puker.  I didn’t used to be, but since meeting Nick and starting our “high-adventure life” I’ve puked roughly 4 times at sea and 2 in the back of a van.  We now carry a puke bag for me every time we travel (sorry if this is too much information) so I reached out my hand and he knew to fish it out of the bag.  I had it  positioned right over my mouth, that’s how sure I was that I wasn’t going to survive this boat ride sans puking.  I am incredibly proud to say that somehow I managed.  It did come up the throat, but I held it down.  Yay me!  And now I think we’ll move on to a new topic… is that okay with you?

Now I mentioned yesterday that the main island was rustic, but this one was even more remote, with many more of the original Ivatan practices still being used.  In the above picture you’ll see the construction of their houses, which last close to 100 years.  The thatched roofs are still impressive, lasting 25 years.  The picture above shows me sporting the traditional Ivatan head-dress.  Sexy!  I think I look like Shakira…

Thankfully, the scenery was well worth all of the hassles it took to get there.  We spent 4 glorious hours enjoying the beauty of this island.  A must-do if you’re going to come all the way to Batanes…just don’t forget your puke bag for the boat ride!  I leave you with some great shots of our beach “photo shoot”!  PS – Did you check out the SMUGMUG gallery yet?  There are oh-so-many sensational pics you still haven’t seen…

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  1. Alison says:

    It sounds like in the end the trials and tribulations were worth it. I’m not a happy camper either when I find out I’ve gotten up way to early for nothing.

  2. shyestviolet says:

    1. love your descriptions of the boat ride. you do us small-wave lake kids proud.

    2. absolutely love your hair. the short stuff. not the headdress part. :)

  3. Great pictures of you guys!

    And isn’t it amazing that such a thing – the honesty box- can really work? Obviously, here it wouldn’t work AT ALL but it’s so fascinating that it works there.

  4. minnesotagal says:

    Yeah, it was…

  5. minnesotagal says:

    Thank you much…I’m definitely stretching myself lately! It’s a far cry from turtle lake…

  6. minnesotagal says:

    I know, it’s one of those heart-warming things that gives you hope about the world.

  7. Katrina Buetow says:

    My dearest Sarah,

    I sat down at my desk with my Starbucks in hand to open your blog and almost spilt my entire $3.05 drink in my lap when I saw the first picture of this post. LOL. Totally not the “glass half full” Sarah that I normally see when I sit down each week/day to read your blog. I am so happy you made it to your destination. Keep on living your high adventure life-it is truly fascinating to us MN mommies =;)

  8. It’s Friday, and that means that the Two Month Blogiversary of the Weekly State Department Blog Roundup is up – and you’re on it!

    Here is the link:

    (If I quoted your text or used your photo(s) and you would rather I had not, please let me know. Please also be sure to check the link(s) that I put up to you, in order to verify that they work properly. If you would rather that I had not referenced you, and/or do not want me to reference you in the future, please also contact me.)


  9. minnesotagal says:

    Ha! Sorry to freak you out… I was a rough morning for me. Sometimes you just cross that line! Thankfully, my funk didn’t last long. Appreciate all the attention and comments – it makes my day every time I see that you’ve left a comment!

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