It feels great when you and your significant other’s birthdays are only days apart. You can just celebrate both birthdays with just one blowout. Ours usually land during the Holy Week. For the past three years, Macel and I have been celebrating them out of town. Two years before, I was invited by her family at Eagle Point in Anilao, Batangas and last year, a long road trip to Ilocos. This year, since her parents were on a 2-week pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I invited Macel to come with us for a short vacation. Somewhere near. Tagaytay.
I booked for an overnight stay for the 5 of us (including my sister and 2 nieces) at Tagaytay Cool Breeze Hotel. Early Maundy Thursday, me and my niece left our house in Fairview to fetch my sister and my other niece at their house in Pasig. I left my car there, changed vehicles then headed off to Alabang to fetch Macel before going to Tagaytay.
When we arrived in Tagaytay, traffic was horrible. Vehicles were barely moving. It was the first time to experience standstill in Tagaytay among the countless times I’ve been there. We checked-in after lunch and decided to rest for a while before heading back to the tumultuous conditions of Aguinaldo highway.
It was past 330 pm when we left the hotel and headed off to People’s Park/Picnic grove. But traffic turned from worse to worst as multitudes of people seem to flock to Tagaytay as their nearest vacation spot. It took us almost an hour to reach our destination. I texted our contact for the boat ride to the island of Taal but he was still with another group. We had to settle with another guide who turned out to be the mom of our original guide. We took our van for another 25-minute drive down through the seemingly endless twists and turns, zigzagging roads towards the shore. Luckily though, there weren’t any traffic along the way. We still had to travel around 30 minutes by boat to the island. By the time we got there, it was almost dark.
If the adventure of going through the traffic, driving down the steep slopes like Baguio, then riding a boat with no lifejacket provisions weren’t enough, we still had to go (extreme) horseback riding going to the mountain summit so we can see the crater. It’s been a long time since I’ve last rode a horse but not riding in the dark along a rocky dirt path on the mountain with cliffs on both sides. But there’s no turning back now. Our safety and most especially our lives now depend on our guide and the horse that carried us. We rode in the darkness only to be illuminated by the stars shining above and some occasional brightness from the cigarette lighters of our guides. On the way up, we could barely see the outline of the trees that lined the mountainside. Below, cavernous depths that you can only pray that you only suffer broken bones should you fall. It was a huge sigh of relief when we arrived at the summit but only to be frustrated because we could not see the crater. Even the brightest of flashes from the SLRs and digicams failed to catch a glimpse of what we were supposed to be doing up there… appreciating the crater of Taal Volcano.
Looking at the brightside, we experienced stargazing in the clarity of the cloudless night sky.
It was a tiring yet memorable experience as we were laughing our hearts out recalling our own moments. I’d definitely go back there for sure. Next time, it’ll be during the day.