After a prolonged hiatus brought about by the exigencies of my profession, I finally unearthed my backpack and my Lonely Planet book last weekend, and set off for an expedition to Negros Occidental. I arrived in Bacolod City early evening of Thursday, when the entire city was engulfed in darkness due to the scheduled black-outs because of El Nino. Because I was on an extremely limited budget, I settled for the most dimly-lit and shabby, but apparently safe pension house I could find. Despite my unfortunate decrepitude, I survived my misadventure in what appeared to be a lovenest for the city's rogues and rascals - a local version of Victoria Court of Hotel Anito.
Always a dim-wit for directions despite my map and a pre-travel internet-based research about the city, I ended up wasting my first evening in the City of Smiles wandering its streets, walking around its plaza, until I was too tired and too hungry to even find myself a uniquely Negrense restaurant. I ended up having dinner in Jollibee.
I hurriedly left the city the following morning. By 4AM, I was already on a bus to Sipalay City, a beach-side town way down south of Negros. It is famous for Sugar Beach, a well-hidden, remote community, 4 hours away from Bacolod. Partly because of my destitution and partly because of my exploratory nature, I disembarked at the village of Montilla, took a tricycle to Lauhang, and paid a child to paddle me across a small estuary to get to Sugar Beach. There was a row of foreigner-owned resorts in the area. I had expected to find the place rather uninhabited. However, a number of foreigners have gone ahead of me. Accommodation was hard to come by, though I was fortunate enough to be able to scrounge around for one I was able to afford.
The beach was not spectacular. There was cream-colored sand admixed with some grayish soil, but it had the consistency of sugar. No wonder they call it Sugar Beach. The water was perfect for swimming. The waves were gentle and the ocean bottom was smooth. I am not much of an ocean-person, and I travel more for the feel of the place, much less for the sights. So after 10 minutes of dipping in the waters and after walking along the entire length of the beach, I settled on a hammock, immersed myself in Hemingway's Farewell to Arms until I fell asleep.
I woke up to a glorious sight. The sky was on fire and the sun seemed to be floating on a see of amber. The sand that used to be plain and ordinary reflected shades of gold and silver. Indeed, no beach is ever the same. Each one has a certain brand of beauty, some sort of a mystery hidden under the sand or beneath the waters, that is nothing less than enchanting.
One of my teachers once said that "The secret to the beauty of a sunset is its brevity." As I tried to savor every moment as the sun descended to its rest over Sugar Beach, I remember some things in my life that seem to be so much like the sun - fleeting and transient as they slowly disappear, only to come back again, so predictably, in pure astounding glory.