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Leaving Malapascua

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Our last day in Malapascua. As soon as we go, Chris will begin mourning the little crowd around the dive shop, where we spend all our free, non-eating time in sleepy indolence. Usually the French girl Jeanne is there, with the apprentice dive master I only know as Dish's brother. Also Rui, the instructor from Japan, sometimes Toto (our instructor), and Ting.

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Yesterday evening, when we went out on our night dive, the water was perfectly still, as if we were motoring across the surface of a large drop of mercury. Tiny silver fish jumped out of the water in a cascade, disturbed by our boat. It reminded me of when we were in San Felipe and all those fish came flopping on the beach, so numerous the Spring Breakers started tossing them at each other. After our dive we came back in sparks of bioluminescence from the startled plankton, glowing their fear. The light at sea was matched by the starry sky, in which a swath of Milky Way was visible.

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You seldom have days that you realize are nearly perfect at the time. Usually you aggrandize them later in a swoon of nostalgia. But today I will declare nearly perfect. Our boat trip to Gato Island, the dive (in which I sat on a sea urchin), the singing and card tricks and easy camaraderie at lunch, lunch itself (delicious chicken cutlets from our favorite restaurant, Kiwi's), snorkeling by the island in the afternoon, napping on the prow of the boat during our trip back. Tata told made-up stories, played his guitar, and jumped 15 meters off a cliff to entertain us. Later I heard one of the European tourists murmur, "He's something, isn't he?" in a tone of mixed irony, amusement, and perhaps admiration. And then I knew she saw him as just a specimen of the local culture, and she would never be one of the "group" in which I include Chris and myself, Jeanne, Yu, and all the staff of Sea Explorers.

But of course we have no claim--we're just passing through. Tomorrow will bring new guests, new friends, and we'll fade away, absolutely unmemorable. But Malapascua will stay in our minds and we'll grow old saying, Do you remember, and wondering how everyone is.

Posted by chschen 08.16.2012 17:00 Archived in Philippines

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