Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Other Side Of The Comfort Zone

August 5, 2017.  I went to climb a volcano to jump off the crater. Then I remembered that I have acrophobia and was too tired to even jump when I got there so I just enjoyed the view and took pictures instead. The end. Okay, not really. There's so much more to it. I am now here. Looking out to the scenery - searching for the places where I used to stand while looking at the place I'm standing in right now. So, this is the view from the other side...

This journey I took knowing it will be an ordeal, chasing the shadow of what's now a distant memory - a fantasy that was once reality. Nonetheless, the die is cast, I find myself on the edge of what I've only looked at from afar before, and there is no other way but forward. For plans and promises made, ones I intend to keep from my end regardless of how everything else went awry. Because I promised them. Because I planned them. Now from the outside looking in, I find myself in the company and kindness of amazing strangers I never met before. Under the scorch of the cruel sun and intermittent respite of the clouds, each heavy step I take, off to tread where I've never dared before. Halfway getting there I look back to see this. So this is the view from the other side of the comfort zone. This is worth risking for. Safety and fear never helped me through the worst; This adventure is worth risking for. This is the first of many - I'll be back for more.

This read might get as long as the journey...

It was around three in the morning when I left home to the meet up place. It was fairly early. Before entering the door I saw this below. A cat with food from the kindness of strangers. If I'd have known better, I'd have then understood, this was how I was going to be for today.

The fast food place wasn't too crowded at half past three. But but not too long after it was filling up with people. I can only guess the faces I see if they're going to be on the trip with me. I managed to have some breakfast and tried to relax a bit. Not too long after the people began to crowd. At around half past four, we headed out.

Our journey going to the venue was fairly uneventful, apart from the aftermath of an accident along the EDSA southbound road in Magallanes that caused some heavy traffic. We picked a cople of participants along the way, and off we went. Our driver, Kuya Robert knew the way and some of us just slept going to the drop off point in Talisay, Batangas.

Then that's when things got exciting for me. After the orientation at the resort, we went on a huddle for a quick acquaint...

Why are these people in life vests standing around talking about climbing a volcano? Because it's the orientation and an acquaint. Ram, the dude in red will be the trail guide and Jasper, the one in reflective glasses with a green color is the sweeper. We will do our best to stay in between them.

Ride A Boat To The Volcano. At a glance that didn't sound it had sense - until in this case. The volcano is an island at the middle of a lake.

Mandatory Pictorials. Ram here is taking a lot of effort to include everyone. His pictures do justice to everyone here. He's not just the guide, he's the photographer as well.

Do It With My Camera Too. Sometimes Ram has to take the same shot with different cameras. In all the shots, he's not in it.Well, that's until it came to my camera.

Take A Selfie. It amuses me when I tell the person taking group pictures to "take a selfie." and they get puzzled looks on their faces. Then they realize why when they see what Penny, my camera, can do. The look on Ram's face here is the most animated one yet.

Listing Down Items. Jasper writing down items in his mind while we're all having this calm before the hike.

Take A Selfie Too. Because why not? I suppose it's my oddball way of breaking the ice with people. Is it just me or Jasper here somewhat resembles Chito Miranda of "Parokya Ni Edgar"?

Over The Waves. This vast expanse is nothing more than a lake, but the waves here nonetheless look similar. I never got to appreciate the scale of this by just looking from afar. The boat skims over the lake balanced by outriggers beneath the cloud stained cerulean sky.

Our Destination. It doesn't look too obvious from here but our destination is an active volcano. Along the shores though, is a village with a teeming population. So it's not exactly a lonely middle of nowhere.

Follow Me. Nothing screams "follow me" like a vivid colored shirt. And that's good for us.

Among the locals are these horses. They're among the primary mode of transport here, since they don't allow motorized vehicles in the area.

Shared Paths. The roads mostly aren't paved, and it's shared with the local animals.

Want A Pony? The horses here are fairly domesticated, they coexist and share space with people here.

Typical pathway here in the island. Ram here is telling us to watch out for horse poop.

... Like these ones. Their local version of landmines. Horses just pretty much drop them without a care. Households constantly have to clear up the roads in front of their houses from time to time.

Apart from horses, there are other fauna in here as well. Goats, cows, dogs, it's really like in the countryside. Except that this place is on an island only a hike away from the crater of an active volcano.

Horses here prove very useful for transportation, and the pollution they leave (poop!) is beneficial to the local flora. There is no need for cars here. Motorized vehicles actually aren't allowed.

This is when we felt thought that it's going to be a pleasant stroll... Lovely view all around.

This shrub looked unusual, we thought. Then it appeared to be moving...

...Turns out it was a horse loaded with plants just grazing.

Yes it's definitely a horse. That's a horse's butt if I've ever seen one.

We came upon this assembly area of sorts. We waited to regroup here.

Things we shouldn't be doing there at the crater. Don't worry, I'll behave...

Took the opportunity to snap a portrait of Ram, our guide in this hike.

Instead of "Please take our picture." why not say "Please take a selfie."

This is when the road starts to get difficult. Every now and then we see other tourists on horseback. At some point while I was resting along the way, some local told me that I should've told me that I should've gotten a horse. But where's the fun and sense of accomplishment in that?

The incline adds up and the next thing you know, you're at a high place. I didn't realize it until I came upon this view.

Another one of our rest stops. We would've appreciated a very cool  breeze though. The sun was roasting us alive.

If the view is good, why not take pictures? I have been doing just that the whole time.

This lady is awesome with a knife. Coconut water for a dollar easy. When you drank it all she'd split the husk and fashion a scoop for the yummy goodness inside.

Charisse, Michael, and Jhaye. They make this hike look like an easy stroll in the park.

Some of my fellow hikers would rather stand. These gals are quite tough, especially the duo with caps. Christine and Sophie are travel buddies and they're at their seventh (?) hike. I should look to these two (apart from Ram and Jasper, that is. They're on a different level. ) for fitspiration for making habitual hikes look easy.

"Maybe I should buy a boat." ... No, not really. Just Jasper admiring the view. This dude has been very patient with me.

After than break we headed out and passed a few more rest stops, and of course, we rested along the way and watch horses pass by. The sun tiring us out with the heat isn't  helping, either.

Shortly after came an open field with the sun generously turning up the heat on everything the eye can see. We saw a clearing and when we looked beyond, we came upon this view.

Hello from the other side! Hey, I think I can see SkyRanch from here... Whoa! Is that Picnic Grove?

This is when I found myself right at the other side of the comfort zone. Away from some fancy viewing deck admiring the view, but instead, I am IN the view; fatigued body, sweaty clothes, muddy shoes and all. I may have consumed half of my water supply, with the sun beating down on us with its harsh heat.

For now, though, I'm leaving it at this point. But this is far from over. This is only halfway getting to the place where I want to go to. After this point, is when the adventure gets really interesting, but I'll save it for next time.

Also, follow me Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram. Yes, I'm kind of all over the place. Don't hesitate to share your thoughts on the comments as well. Until then, I'm out to get lost and wander.

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