Simple Pleasures

Summer this year came a little late. Usually it comes just around the Catholic Holy Week with the weeks leading to it starting to get really warm. This year, we had rainy days and thunderstorms for weeks prior to the Holy Week. They say, the times are really changing, what with volatile weather conditions worldwide. That big summer sky said “better late than never!” and decided to hang himself up there right after the Lent celebrations. Summer! the smells, the tastes, the feelings all come rushing back. Summer is the briny smell of sea breeze, it is the cool cucumber and tomato in your kinilaw and it is the hot, languid, carefree afternoons with your summer lover.

So here is Cebu again with temperatures rising to 35C with people running to the beaches to cool down. Ofcourse I just had to have that requisite beach picnic too. The first for this year was with Shaun and his friends last weekend. They were to celebrate the last few remaining days of American friend John in Cebu. He’s been in the Phils for 5 years total, 2 of the most recent in Cebu and will be moving back to the States. I tagged along. We were headed for Bantayan Island.

I love Bantayan and I have vacayed several times in this island. The last time I was here was almost 2 years ago. I love that the beachline is not crowded, and that it is wide. The water is clean minus the algae floating and the docked pumpboats. Yes, I mean algae, not seaweeds. Not a lot of us know that algae is a telltale sign of polluted water no matter how blue green the water is. But I digress. Now I also appreciate the peace and quiet. I just don’t understand why some people try to make a party place out of beaches like they do in Boracay. They can always do so in the City. Bantayan is hush quiet, just the way I like it.

As expected the beach was there, the water was there and the quiet was there. One change I noticed was that the ugly oil depot near Sta Fe is now gone! Another was that there are motorbike and bicycle rentals around town now. After we sated our beach hunger, we rented bicycles the next day.

I love bicycle rides. I remember all the summer breaks growing up when I would be really dark with sunburn cycling around Mabolo. These were the years when San Jose dela Montana didn’t have the traffic volume it has now and it was safe for 9 year old kids to be passing thru its thoroughfare on their bicycles. I would go out on my bicycle every afternoon, no matter the heat, and go around the corners and nooks of Mabolo. I remember the wonderful feeling of discovery everytime I found a new route or found a new neighborhood. I believe I never again rode bicycles after I turned 10 years old…

When I saw the rental signs, my elan kicked in. So I invited Shaun, John and Clint and they were up for it. And like they say, I quickly remembered how to ride a bicycle, nothing really to almost 20 years of not riding one. Oh! the sheer freedom of breezing through the little streets of Sta Fe. Past Brgy, Okoy, Okra, Ampalaya, Talong and Kamatis! Everywhere we went, the womenfolk and the children would say “Hi” or greet us with “Good Morning!”. Everytime Shaun and I would find something nice, we would ring our bells. I found myself driving the bike wiggly woggly as I get myself distracted looking at the houses, new and old, the neighborhood scene of Sunday cockfight, and the green all around.

Ofcourse,  we were cruising around town with the sun’s heat beating down on us mercilessly. But hey, wasn’t this the idea? We did a le petit bonheur, a little happy hour after a few minutes though. The best way to cooldown…halo halo…no matter how overpriced.

On our way back, we chose to follow a different route, this time by the beach side. Warm sun on my skin and cool sea breeze on my face. I love summer. Who would have thought summer fun can be just this simple, but then this is me talking. What’s your idea of summer fun?