El Nido, some reasons why I wouldn’t go back there

To everybody out there going to El Nido, and going for a tour: just let you know that there are some scams you would jump into. One I had is the shrine scam. They tell you tours are all included together with taxes and fees for the reserve.
Once you land there they tell it is private and you need to pay 100 pesos cash to land. If you are wondering if you can skip this stop the answer is “no”. Lunch, which is included in what they promise it is going to be “served” in this island.
What we did is when we came back from the tour we asked to pay 100 pesos less since they didn’t mention about this other cost.
Now, I’m not writing just to warn people, but also to express a little thought on this. I very often don’t take tours myself because I like to take time to explore slowly discover things. Unfortunately some places you’re forced to do that, and some are even super fun, useful and enjoyable. But either you like it or not this doesn’t justify operators to make a crazy orribile job.
This is my experience of el Nido, all I did it was beautiful but always with this bitter taste of getting ripped off.

Tour in El Nido was the worse I did in Philippines. I mean, the worse of the ones you are forced into. They give you appointment in the main beach where there are little table around with an operator signign you. Than, it doesn’t matter if your appointment was at 8 am or 9am or 10am, you are all going to leave at around 10:30. And this is the part I found useless: it is already discouraging staying in a crowded beach early at the beginning of the morning with one thousand people around not enjoying a concert in the night but just waiting hopefully, but what is more annoying is that this part is totally useless when you think that they all leave together and you are going to end up all together in every single spot. On the end waters are going to be foggy, and the snorkeling impossible. Walking around the rocky spots of some islands are just a procession in which you queue with hundreds of other people. I wonder why in El Nido they have at least thirty boats, they give you different appointments at different time but on the end nothing changes, and they decide in which boat are you just on the end, at the beach.

Sabang

A perfect day to disappear in the nature, merge, and feel what the perpetual movement of waters has got to wisper to your ears…
This was my hiding spot in Sabang as I was seeking for a shelter. I found a home where to write in peace, I found this nature ready to hug me.

Hopping throughout the rocks after Sabang main beach I found this “almost” hidden place. A river is passing by, dropping its waters on the sea. Waters are mixing in lakes and other little ponds, giving spectacular and natural roundabouts of wet sand. It was my favourite waterpark in Palawan together with the one of San Vicente.

Philippines offered to my eyes a playful ground where to chill, invent stories and colour my imagination.

Marae in Huahine

Do you know what is a church? A municipal building? Well, for Maori people, the Marae is that place where the community can have a spot for religious, political, social meetings. Also, it offers a reference to each tribe as each human group sooner or later would seek for a membership and a landmark that is common to others sharing same ideology. And that is how, for good or bad it could be, the concept of identity is graven throughout the time.
The Marae in the picture is located in the north of Huahine-Nui, one of the Society Island in French Polynesia that impressed me the most.
This beautiful complex rises in front of the Fa’una Nui lake, which is not exactly a lake when you consider that Huahine is still an atoll, although, as it happens very often, the motus are  not perfectly scattered around the mainland.
It was originally dedicated to Tane, god of fishing and war. His reflection on the sea is believed to be the sea turtle and that is why on his Ava’a, a stone placed as the bed of the God, a turtle is curved.
Huahine has got at least 1000 thousand year history on his back and its actual eight districts division derives from the legend of Hotu Hiva and her eight sons.
Everything in Huahine has this special scent of magic, historical and precious stories. Its shaped seen from above looked to me like a broken heart, as well as the heart of Hotu Hiva when she was brought very young to Ra’iatea, away from her lover.
The sunk part dividing Huahine-Iti and Huahine-Nui is connected by a bridge and the island can be traveled all around by car. Hitchhicking is the best!
Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 12.36.03 pm
Screen Shot 2019-03-16 at 12.36.03 pm.png

North of Palawan: rivers, villages and many many pesos

And that is how I decided to come back in San Vicente after I left it just for having a look in El Nido for few days. The experience was so frustrating that I had to run away. The crowd and the sadness of mass tourism has killed my joy for exploring new places.

Enjoy this little paradise before somebody realize its beauty and start to build shameless pieces of concrete everywhere to improvise facilities.

There is a river long enough to be paddled for a good hour or more. I just explored it from my cottage to the sea and once taking an other road in a certain split. The first would take towards the fishing village, the second is a narrow passage onto some water palms labirinth.

I stayed in Farmbelle cottages which it wasn’t cheap compared to what happend in the little town of San Vicente. There you can find double room with fan for 500pesos or 600 or 1000 if with airco. In Farmbelle we are around 1200pesos. This was a good deal for us to stay closer to the long beach and renting a motorbike in town for 500pesos per day the distance was easy to manage. In town, which is around 3km away from the main access to the long beach you can find shops, restaurants and bar. There is a public market with fresh fishes and veggies, there are a couple of second end clothing shops and a very cute food court with 7 eating spots. I liked the local food served in a sort of buffet with many different choises (if looking for more veggies better to go for lunch than dinner). Good food is served also at Mango bar and the restaurant besides it. The local buffet set ups are of course the cheapest option to eat in town. Don’t look for wine or western food here. It would be a very disappointing choice. Go for fruit shakes at Mango bar that are amazing or the Tanduay local rum with kalamansi juice always available.

There are massive plans to make San Vicente become a new El nido. For sure it has the potential, and it has much more space and options to grow faster and better than the packed and cahotic El Nido. The harbour area is massive, the long beach is 14 kilometers of pure beauty. The surrounding area is luxuriant. Waterfalls and rivers are other chilling spots and very often you can see buffalo chilling as well in the middle of the rivers or rice fields.

My favourite swimming spot was where the river ends on the long beach. The Bighao waterfall are alse reachable by motorbike and a good refreshing spot although they are little and if unlucky you get there where other 10 people come with a tour from Port Barton. It’s one hour and a half drive in a very dusty sometimes sandy road beacuse is under construction and it will connect San Vicente to Port Barton.

Bighao waterfalls are closer to Port Barton than San Vicente. Infact we chosed to keep on going on the same coastal road till Port Barton to get back to San Vicente form the main road/highway.

Hospitality in San Vicente is now modest and cheap and when I compare the service I got in Port Barton and El Nido, I wish this place will not follow the same path. Port Barton and El Nido had been growing in a savage way and they claim importance as well as lot of money for a service that is far from being decent.

Pietraperzia

Sicily by car has been an amazing experience so far.
Even thoug I was far from any beach I had to admit again there is not a single chance you can’t enjoy this region.

A week ago the sicily weather map was quite clear: I was actually heading the bad weather (if by chance “bad” weather exists).
Everything I experience here is extremely joyful no matter what. There were actually some damages around and flooded other cities in the area. But I didn’t give up and I got to visit this beautiful site, a tan walls city in the middle of sicily.
Pietraperzia is a little village in the district of Enna.

I was coming from the south east throughout ss 115 and ss 640 (now closed due to the flooding of the most recent days).
The sky was leaden on top of the hills around Enna and the swooping roads, but this didn’t affect the beauty of being in such a remote place in this big island ind the middle of the mediterranean sea.

Pietraperzia has a privileged point of vew above the Himera meridionale river. That is why was prescious to Sicani people at first and Siculi later on.

Things to see

I highly suggest a walk around the ancient town that is on top of the hill. If you are rushing up like I was I would pay attention to this three spots:

Gouvernor’s palace:

Historiscians couldn’t date this palace, but we know it was built by locals with sandstones and the finest details tha we still can see under the balconies, stairs, colums and the inner courtyard.

Barresi Castle

On the very top of the hill the Barresi castle ruins dominate the town giving to those who walk around it a panoramic point of vew. It is believed this castle was way bigger than how it appears. Its perimeter was probably containing around thirteen thousand squared meters area.

Santa Maria Maggiore Mother church

This church lays mighty on the main square. It dates the XVI century and never got finished.
The church is free to access and it has gorgeous barrel vault naves, parietal decorations and coffered ceilings.

LRM_EXPORT_253598638977969_20181103_192451601.jpeg

It might be useful to know that Pietraperzia hosts the tradition of “Lu signuri di li fasci” (literally: the christ of bands).
During the holy Friday the community reminds the passion of christ with a 5 hours procession where people bring around a big and heavy simulacrum with a cross on top. The Simulacrum is meters 8,51, a size that stays for 33 sicilian inches. The linen bands have to be 33 meters as well, like the age of Jesus Christ.

bty

I got fascinated by this town totally built on sandstone. Walking around its little roads, among very old buildings made me have a perception of being steady over time, a time like a thousand years ago.

img_20181021_175321.jpg
bty

LRM_EXPORT_253694224977955_20181103_192627185.jpeg

Road to Eraclea Minoa

Eraclea is an ancient greek city located in the district of Agrigento in Sicily. This area is packed of beautiful greek ruins and stunning landscapes.

When the Scirocco wind blows here everything changes.

Strong events and tan sandy sky take over and the landscape is affected considerably. Like almost everywhere in Sicily the weather shapes the territory as well as the mood of the people living or travelling here. Who is not ready to face big changings is not ready to embrace the beauty of this rough land as well as its most fine secrets.

Eraclea Minoa has a wonderful easy -to- access beach surrounded by a maritime pine tree forest growing onto a white marlstone cliff which rises nude soometimes, especially on the west part of the beach to admit its majestic nature. When the tide allows that, you can walk along side the cliff and reach the mouth of Platani river that flows in the Platani river natural reserve, an other perl of the Agrigento province.

The condition of this shore is, like unfortunately happens very often in Sicily, quite polluted. Even if waters are clear and nice, they carry, especially after a Scirocco storm, a certain amount of rubbish. On a quick vew, it is visible that Agrigento province itself has suffered a lot for illegal building over the years. Driving around this amazingly beautiful area, among cliffs and hills it is a shame to spot huge palaces among greek temples and theatre dating more than 2000 years. I love Agrigento province bytheway, and I will be always happy to pay a visit to this enchanted lands.

I strongly believe that ignoring history or nature would let this sad goal of modern human being take over and win his hugly battle against the beauty. And that’s why it is necessary to claim it, writing about it, travelling around it, being into it.

Chillin’ at Tewantin Memorial Park

Heading south while crossing Queensland till Brisbane led me to Noosa heads. I Didn’t really follow a strict plan and for that reasons I discovered how stunning Queensland is. I must have been quite spoiled from the remote places I have seen cause I remember I could stay in Noosa not even 15 minutes. I found myself running away from the crowd of December. Parking was a big issue and I gave up quite fast. I don’t regret I didn’t had a walk around cause I actually enjoyed Noosa surroundings very much. Tewantin for istance is a suburb in Noosa that lays on quite river waters. I was quite tired still from my adventures in Frazer island and all I needed was just a place with not to many people around.

At the memorial park me and my travel mate started to play with water, have pictures, organizing the car and finally chill. It was a super nice day. On the end, the fact that I couldn’t stay in Noosa turned good. It means I can go back a discover it in a different light, possibly in a low seasons light.

Every best trip starts with some fog

I will always remember when my best friend offered to bring me in Linate airport even if that meant for us to leave at 3 a.m. and get lost in the fog. I remember it because everytime my best friend offers me lifts it ends up like the best time ever, partying wild or having some stick’n poke tattoos, or facing snowstorms, or him coming one day earlier to pick me up at the airport. I love the fact that even if I meet him always in the same city contests he is a real “wild” person. It always feels like holiday with him. That time He was bringing me to have my first intercontinental flight, alone and a bit scared. I was super nervous and at that time I wasn’t so good in controlling those attacks of extra care and concern about the future, the culture, starvation, pollution, wars and global heating.

We started the trip stopping in every “autogril” (petrol station) like he always loves to do. For him, it doesn’t make sense to have a road trip if you can’t spend money in trash food and stupid things on the way. That is why we almost risked a fine in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere with nobody in the same parking area for parking in the handicap reserved spot. Once we started to drive we understood that trip was going to be long and I was going to be late. No matter he fought the car couldn’t go any faster than 50 in the highway with that fog. Tracks, of course, had a different opinion of our troubles and they honked at us all time long. Their overtaking was pushing things far, shaking that little car that Gabri calls “scarponcino”, (litterally “ankleboot”) Linate direction signs are millions everywhere, even at the entrance of the highway from Torino kilometers away. Unfortunately, they forgot to put them in the most useful spot, especially when there are work in progress around and you need to exit the highway. We got lost and late of course but I will remember that crazy trip for ever. All night telling stupid sotries and funny things. Telling each other about our clumsy childhood…telling each other secrets that only in a car in the fog in the night you would ever lough about.

Sunsetting around Trapani

In the western facing little seaside towns, Sunset is a must to see. Around the western costline in Sicily is such a deal that doesn’t lead to any romantic attachment anymore. People from Trapani are so into the sunset that they always try to get along with it. It’s a show that our world offers on a daily basis and this doesn’t make it boring at all not even if you attend it every single day.

A very common and lovely routine here around is to invite friends for “sunsetting” together. That makes it the most social part of the day. Even when alone, it is still something that makes you willing to stop for a second, no matter where you are. Watching the most special star falling behind the horizon is the best and chilled part of the day.

Here is a list of what I belive are the Best spots to have the greatest enlightments of your life: “Punta Sottile” lighthouse in Favignana island, Faraglioni in Favignana island,

Lazzaretto in the old Trapani harbour, Mount Erice at Venus castle gardens,

Stagnone Lagoon sault farms,

Mount Monaco in Sanvito Lo Capo,

Mount Cofano at Cornino side, Macari bay

Sanvito Lo Capo lighthouse

VHF and Radio things / connections when crossing an Ocean

The VhF was an important tool for my new life abroad. So it was that I started my “official” and “public” talking in English. At that time I remember it was an issue because even if I could communicate quite well with this foreign language I was still in doubt about my “listening” skills. Imagine when the skills needed are related to safety during sailing, approaching harbours, decks and having infos about weather, coordinates and communications with other boats. I really thought I could mess a lot with this tool in my hands, but everything went right in the end. First time using it was in the Caribbean Sea, Virgin Islands. Everybody on board thought it was my duty to do that, cause nobody was able to say anything in English. After this time that I remember with a bit of fear, this job was quite different…

When I started to travel with a more diversified provenience travellers everything become more “democratic” and the use of the vhf wasn’t a big deal anymore.

During my sailing trip I discover that the SSB Radio (single side band) was a great tool to communicate. In every area you can ask for the frequencies were independent volunteers advise you about everything related to the sea at least twice per day, at a certain time. I found it interesting, especially because you can communicate your position when you leave and people are taking notes of it. That means that they will look for you when you are aspected to come somewhere, somehow. This might sound a bit “too much” but is actually a very useful way to stay safe and “together” even when far apart from each other. Sometimes you meet new sailors because you hear their story on the radio and maybe you even talked, and the day after they are anchoring just besides you.

On those radio “rendez-vous”, there is normally a boat crew who is volunteering. They normally start to call people that were “in” during the last transmission. If you are signing for the first time you go on the queue waiting for the call for anybody else to join. After giving your name and position you can just keep silent and listen to the others or asking your questions and express your doubts on the end. I loved this system, I loved to hear from other people. I loved that we weren’t alone in a little boat in the vastity of the ocean. There were other sailors, many of them.

In Ritme, I was using the SSB radio also for sending very concise mails. We had the SailMail account provider connected with a Modem to the SSB Radio (it’s something like 280 $ per year, a pretty fair price for being connected with the world and being able to get the forecast wherever you are). It was quite a funny game for me to look for the best station with the most of the chance to get an email through, unless the Ocean was rough and throwing me up, down and left and right onto the desk. This system is actually very basic: you send a little email to a computer that is always connected on one of those radio stations offered (that is why you need to check the favourite one), that computer will eventually send it for you. Quite often “Niue” or “Honolulu” were the best options. One -few words (10) – email from the Ocean could take from two minutes to half of hour to go through. But, yes, I could tell my sister that I was still alive after many days of silence. It’s a great tool.

Highlights on Pipa beach in 5 points

This stunning place is about 80 km south from Natal, capital of the State Rio Grande do norte. It’s a cute village with many restaurants and hospitality facilities due to his recent growing in tourism. Pipa is actracting people for surfing and kite surfing, but the truth is that this place is just one of the most beautiful in Brazil. To get there by car it’s quite easy (even by bus). Just need to go off from the highway at the Goianinha little town and you will be right in the Tibau do Sul municipality.

1 Coming from the village you’ll reach the beach from above. Little colourful buildings around you are houses, shops and restaurants. During the low tide, the beach unveils rocky spots that create little lakes and sandy lagoons in wich you can chill sitting in the clear waters.

     I loved to take a photo shoot in there. The place is so various that looks like a water park where people are passing by looking for their own “lake” among the rocks. Water is calm due to the reef that protects the seafront from the big waves of the Ocean.

2 The village is tiny but fervent. There is a high presence of Argentinians business and tourists. It looks almost like an argentinian enclave. It’s very common to hear spanish speakers in Pipa because of that. Night life is nice especially thanks to the live concerts offered by Taipa, restaurant and bar.

     I was there during the low season and I was quite surprise that during those (just) three months of low season there was still a lot going on.

3 On the side of Pipa beach there is a big, long and gorgeous cliff at least 10 meters high. Its colours vary from red to yellow passing by pink and orange. The rocky wall is coverd by a forest, and some of this vegetation is part of the Santuario Ecologico.

     I loved to appretiate the differences in between the tides in this place cause the cliff seems higher when the sea is going almost against it and lower and some sort of smoky or smooth when you see the moisty air on the seafront space when the sea is less pushy!

4 Praia do Golfinhos lays straight after Pipa beach (heading north). It is just superb and when you are pacient enough you can even spot some dolphins around. The shore was so huge and flat that people where arranging football fields and games in the wet sand during the low tide. The cliff here looks even more majestic. Swimming in there can be a bit rough because of the waves: in this part of the cost the reef is missing.

     By the time I came back from the walking to praia do Golfinhos what it was a diversified space with ponds, sand and rocks has become a whole normal beach. The sea (the tide) took over.

5 Chapadão. At 15 minutes walking from the village (heading south) there is a very special lookout: a big system of terraces going flat but steep to the sea.

     I went there to enjoy a nice sunset watching the ocean. Obviously, the sun is going to set behind your shoulders but this is the little compromise you need to accept when special places in the world are facing Est.

The magnetism, the island, the tree. A tale from Magnetic island.

It’s weird to write down this part of my trip because it makes me think that actually there is a bit of chillin’ even in “my way” to travel: it’s not fight everyday. Sometimes you just need to accept that life is simple and beautiful like it is and you need to enjoy what is in front of your eyes.

I was passing by Townsville in Australia with my travelmate going south from Cairns, and that was the only plan we had got. Actually none of our stops was planned. It was just me asking: “well, since we are here. Why don’t we go to Magnetic Island?” So we did. We found the port, we dropped the car in a parking area and we went took a ferry. First thing I realized was that I’ve been missing islands’ air. It was quite a while I was on a “mainland”, almost one year, and “yes” watching an island while you get closer and closer gave me very good vibes. You smell it, you reach it, and finally you arrive in a paradise. I think islands give me such a good feeling because I’ve always appreciated the simplicity and the idea of a little and cozy space all for you but actually opened to the beauty of a 360 degrees of freedom, wild, purity; basically …. The Ocean

Magnetic Island ferry

Most of the people thinks island is a prison and a place where every good is hard to find and expensive. I honestly think the opposite: in the island my needs are so low that even if I spend a lot of money for little goods, I have very basic claims and since I don’t feel the stress of “civilization” anymore, I can easy reject some of the very “must to have” objects of the commodified society. It’s not that in a island you are immediately isolated, cause it actually doesn’t change very much especially in those inhabited places, but ideally the separation makes you projected in a necessary wildness, in a detached mood. And that’s enough sometimes.

Magnetic Island Map

We went through the forests with a bus first, to Horseshoe bay, and walking after, till Radical bay. Horseshoe bay is a beautiful and gently inhabited bay on the north shore.

From there, you can take a nice walk in the middle of the dry forest of this special island going a bit east. After our little sandwich on the garden on the seafront of Horseshoe bay, we went to explore this beauty: we even spot a Koala in the wild. We weren’t that into the tourism to be able and excited to pay for a visit at the Koala Sanctuary, but in the end we got our little wild present (with a little help). Since koalas are very silent, slow and often asleep it’s very hard to spot them in the wild, cause you wouldn’t actually realize they are around unless a very kind man crossing your way would tell you where to look

We had some pics trying to keep silent. I was wondering how they would do in the Sanctuary: if those animal are awake basically 4 hours per day, holding them it must necessary be while they sleep. I’m not an ethologist but I suppose it would be quite a stress for them, using the only few hours they have got to chew a couples of leaves to be held by a stranger.

The walking was not easy neither too hard. Radical bay was lush… I was almost tempted to dive, but I saw some particular ex-life on the sand that made me unconfident…

After walking by the beach I preferred to climb trees around and lay and chill. I got one of the best nap of my life. Alex was working on opening a coconut while I was dreaming about living a life on top of a tree. After he finished this hard work he reached me on the hall of my new “home” and we had some coconutwater together. It’s crazy how simple is happiness when you forget how unneeded is the effort to rush and accumulate in an ordinary life.