Monday, February 09, 2009
The morning of our departure day started out okay, but I should have known better; things had been going way too smoothly. That's not usually the way things go for me.
Right around 9am we all moseyed down to the hotel restaurant for our last complimentary breakfast. Halfway through it my thighs started to ache. Then the soreness migrated on to the rest of me, so that by the time I was done eating I knew I had just been “struck down” by some kind of virus. I wasn’t exactly “down for the count,” but I felt like total crap. Life sucked, at last.
When I get sick, I get quiet. I withdraw and don’t want anyone to talk to me. Just leave me alone and let me be miserable. My sick motto, “I appreciate your concern, but butt out.” I know that sucks about me, but that’s my style.
The hotel allowed us a 2pm checkout. Problem is, our flight wasn’t until close to 6. Not wanting to be miserable in public for the hour we had to wait until the shuttle left for the airport, I stayed in bed watching TV until 1:59. During that miserable hour I sat on the uncomfortable benches in the lobby directly across from the burbling waterfall feature and just stared at it. I put my music on hoping everyone would just leave me alone, but what actually kept everyone concerned about me at arm’s length was my crotchety attitude. Basically, I was being an ass. I didn’t care; every second that passed saw me feeling worse.
Divine wouldn’t even sit next to me on the short ride to the airport. She was mad at me and I was mad at her for being mad at me. Oh what fun!
She stayed miffed for quite some time. After check in I tried to find a seat as far away from noise and people, something virtually impossible to do in most departure lounges in this country. To make matters worse the Sinulog festival with its traditional dance and repetitive music (maddeningly repetitive!) was now in full swing. I had been listening to that grating melody for a week, in the malls, in the hotel lobby and restaurant, on the streets, seemingly everywhere, and I could not take even one more note of it. And now, lucky me, they were playing it right there in the airport on all the TVs and at full volume. I had had enough. I wanted to escape it, to go home.
Finally, some luck, and believe it or not, it was good! Cebu Pacific has a lot of late flights, they average about 65% late takeoffs by the stats, but they can also leave early. Sure enough, they informed us that our flight would be heading back to Clark almost a full hour early. Yes! I was feeling better already.
More luck—we were seated on the left side of the aircraft. Heading north that meant the sunset would strategically be on our side of the plane. None of that would have made a difference except for the early departure; otherwise, it would have been dark for almost the entire flight. In preparation for a flight almost full of sunset I limbered up my Cybershot camera.
Our plane with its four turboprop engines was practically factory fresh. Due to that newness the passenger windows were almost crystal clear and totally unscratched. If there was going to be good photo-ops out those pristine windows then the photos should turn out great. More luck!
I was not disappointed. The awesome vision of clouds, sea, mountains and sun as they interacted was like an amazing special effects show put on by God for almost the entire 70 minutes of that “heavenly” flight. Seeing that constantly changing spectacle from my perfect window just about made me forget that I was sick.
Afraid I might miss something, I don’t think I looked away for even a second.
The beauty of the short shuttle flight, also known as a “puddle jumper,” is the relatively low altitude flown by those aircraft. On our flight we probably never got higher than a mile or so; any higher than that and it’s hard to see anything. From three miles and up everything below is flat and featureless, even most of the clouds. Our flight north back to Angeles City however, was anything but featureless. It was breathtaking.
I’ll never forget it. Early in the flight the sun was not directly visible from behind a dark wall of clouds. Instead, it seemed to come directly from the sea’s surface as a perfectly brilliant reflection. The sky was upside down, with sun below and sky above.
Every few minutes something new would show up out there. I clicked the shutter continuously, trying different settings and hoping that I would capture even half of the beauty I was seeing. I think I got a lot of good shots. Check them all out here. I recommend seeing them full-sized as a slideshow.