Every so often, if you're lucky, you meet someone on your travels that you immediately click with. Jonathan Brodeur was certainly one of these people, and I reckon we'll be friends for life.
I spent 4 hours on a bus from PP to Port Barton, a quiet village on the northwest coast of Palawan where nothing much happens. It's a quiet bay with some family-run resorts and no bars to speak of; a great place to relax and unwind.
I'd decided to stay at Elsa's Place. They do the best food there, so good that people from other resorts eat there regularly. I be the owners love that. On my second night, I'd been sat on the next table from a French Canadian who was speaking to a Swedish couple. When they left, there were only the two of us remaining. We struck up a conversation and shared a few beers. He was very similar to myself on his outlook on life, his passion for travelling. I think it's a mark of how good the conversation was that we didn't even touch on musical tastes or films, and that's how I usually guage compatibility. Wine, weed and women seemed to be enough to keep us rabbiting on for a bit. He's a keen sailor, and is toying with the idea of sailing acroos the Atlantic to visit England. I suggested coming to Colombia to pick me up first, and he told me he may be heading down there at the back end of this year. That'd be some way to end the trip? My Dad's even keen to come over to help sail her, but I reckon Mum'd veto that one in a flash. Unlucky, Dad.
We finished the beers and agreed to go island-hopping the next morning, as the Swedes were interested...four of us could hire a banca. An early start saw us heading out for a morning of snorkelling. For lunch we were taken to the hideously expensive Coconut Island Resort, which sits alone on an expanse of rock a couple of km from Barton. The sign outside told us it was the Number One Restaurant on Coconut Beach. It only took a second to scan the beach for the non-existent competition. But the food was OK, and they had a well full of baby turtles we could play with...they had a taste for human fingers. Very cute.
There's only one dive shop in Port Barton, and a cursory look around the place told us all we needed to know: it's not worth diving. The shop was a large bamboo house inhabited by an emaciated, almost toothless Belgian sexagenarian whose stick-thin legs defied the laws of Physics to keep him on his feet. And the equipment pre-dated him, I reckon. Surprised there wasn't a brass diving-helmet and lead boots on offer. And no-one wants to wear a wetsuit with mold on it, do they? Save my money for El Nido, then.
After a few days in Barton, I craved a bit more excitement. JB and the Swedes were also heading for El Nido, and we arranged to reconvene the next morning for the 7am jeepney and a dusty ride.