Posts Tagged ‘Fitness’

Honeymoon Recap 2: Beautiful Boracay

January 6th, 2011 No comments

(For pictures of this leg of our journey, visit Tracy’s blog here.)

You may recall my mention earlier of the Philippines being a little too rugged and not touristy enough.  Well, I apologize for sloppy storytelling when it comes to continuity because Boracay, the first major stop of our trip, was an exception to all that.  The small island only 7 miles long and as narrow as one mile wide in the middle is sublimely gorgeous, your true-to-form typical beachy paradise with white sand and warm, clear turquoise waters.

In fact it’s so typically paradisey that I’m actually going to skip over describing most of it.  It’s the sort of stuff that if you’ve already been, you know pretty well what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, well, who wants to hear the ramblings of some dude’s time on a beach when you’ve been rockin’ the non-beach thing all along?  So instead I’m going to opt for telling the weird stories.

Two of the three mornings in Boracay I found myself waking up around 3am, bright eyed and ready for adventure (jet lag can be fun if you embrace such early morning shenanigans).  The rooftop of our resort offered choice views of the partially clouded night, painted purple and yellow by the low hanging, jumbo-sized moon.  It was the kind of serenity you hope for if you’ve ever yelled out “serenity now”, and made a fine occasion for doing a few Sun Salutations (though in fairness to the sun, I was totally saluting the moon instead).  The sandy beach below at 4am, I found, makes a great time to sit on your butt and read Heinlein by the beach-facing floodlights of Fridays’ Resort while giving out respect nods to the occasional jogger who passes by.

One morning (after enjoying beach-side ninja training of a run plus bonus cove abs) I took to exploring more the beach with a single-minded mantra of “keep going”.  I just wanted to see how far I could take it to find what I would find.  Rocky ledge to shimmy around?  Keep going.  Some stairway through dense foliage with a couple dudes standing on it in my way?  Keep going.  Looks like I’m trespassing on someone’s private property?  Keep going.  Obscure, narrow, winding path with many steps leading upwards?  Keep going.  Resort security checkpoint?  Play it cool, like you belong there.  Actually I just let ’em know straight away that I was wandering about, checking out other cool beach-side places to stay.  I was welcomed right in, which gave me rights to strut about the property with impunity.

And what a find!  What I’d stumbled upon was this Ewok village-like formation of cabins and foliage strewn about a dense maze work of stairs and narrow paths, which opened into a system of interconnected sea-facing terraces with many nooks of cabanas and lounge chairs at varying elevations, all with spectacular views.  The place seemed deserted, which perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise since there were about 4 occasions during my journey to it that I thought I should turn back because I didn’t belong.  (In fairness, it is also quite new and “Secluded luxury” is one of their marketing tag lines.).

While staring transfixed by the view the nice lady appeared and handed me a rate card for the rooms on property.  At $20 less a night I was a little crestfallen that we’d already prepaid our 3 nights at the Two Seasons.  We did get to experience at least some of the awesomeness when we returned the next night for sunset drinks.

A now a tale from the Poor Planning Diaries.

Just minutes before we took to the beach bound for the nearest SCUBA dive shop, I realized I forgot my contact lenses (oh I had the case, it was just empty).  My vision is poor enough to make the natural splendor of tropical coral reefs look like boring blobs, so even when you discount the whole “safety” thing my lack of lenses might’ve rendered any diving opportunities this trip completely moot (and I do love me some diving).

I opted that we head for the dive shop anyway, reckoning that I’d “think of something”.  Along the way [confronted with the possibility that surfing would also be ruined for me] we contemplated zany schemes for damage control, like having our house-sitter ship ’em to Manila and we’d somehow pick ’em up there (terrible idea for its complexity).  Hey, what if I could just, you know, buy some contacts here?  On this tiny island?

I had my doubts given my state-side experience, which teaches me that no “respectable” optometrist will sell you contacts unless you present a prescription given during a complete eye exam within the last year (it’s been 3 for me).  But hey, we were in a new world here, presumably a little less sue-happy and perhaps a little less stringent in their dispensary of prescribables,  and I happen to remember my magic prescription number (-5.5)… so why not find out!  I had an hour or two to do it while Tracy got schooled in the PADI basics for her first dive.

Now then, on the beach of Boracay there exists a reckless abundance of people brandishing little cards featuring small pictures of activities with large, inflated prices just beneath, so many so that “Water sports today?” may be confused by the untrained eye to be a traditional island greeting.  With such eagerness to help me get onto a sail boat for only 5000P (about $125 US) I figured I’d reply in earnest what I did need.  “Water sports today?” said the next such fellow along my sandy path  (how do they know I’m a tourist?  Ah, right: I have been judged [accurately] by the color of my skin!).  Instead of the “No thanks” that I was getting good and polished at saying,  I stopped in my tracks, looked him square in the eyes, and replied: “Right now, no, but what I am looking for is some contact lenses, can you help me with that?”

As eager to be helpful as any good salesman is, my new friend Dwayne offered to wander along and help me on my quest to and through D’Mall in search of my odd need.  We talked as we walked of hobbies we enjoyed, he when not hustling activities, me when not saying no to them, and found common ground in dance and bemusement that I suck at basketball.  He was a cool guy.  The second shop we tried at had just what I needed.  The friendly woman who tended the counter asked only for my prescription number in answer to my question (as opposed to demanding to see my papers like in the US, which now seems kinda fascist by comparison), and then wandered over to the display case to pluck out a small box.  900P and a quick use of the backroom with a sink and I was set.  Perfect vision.  No wacky postal pickup in Manila required.  Dwayne you’re the man, and a gentleman for making me work to convince you to take my 200 gratitude pesos.

Ah, and the diving was most beautiful and laden with 20/20 visual goodness.

I’d like to end my recount of Boracay with a tale of how even in splendorous paradise the simple joys never go out of style, and that simple joy is a happy hour bucket of beers.  During a beach walk when things were not yet happening at the tender hour of only 9pm, one of the hustlers at a club bar smoothly offered and got us situated at a cheap plastic table whose legs were planted in the sand just 10 feet from the rising midnight-tide.  200P (about $5 US) for six bottles of cold beer is a bargain at your local friendly dive bar, and seems triply so on the beach in Boracay.  We partook of a local brew called Red Horse while staring out at the sea.

By the time we finished the first bucket and started on our second, the bar scene behind us had filled out with a great mix of both locals and tourists, and the DJ was cranking out some bumpin’ tunes.  A Lady Gaga came on and, perhaps thanks to the graces of moderately consumed alcohol, Tracy was game to rock it out with me (yeah I like to dance to Lady Gaga, so what?).  We gave it our Red Horse best in our center, solo spot on the dance floor, and for it entertained locals and gringos alike.  I know this because they were both clapping and cheering at song’s end.  (That now makes 2 countries abroad in which I have been applauded for dance prowess, sweet!)

The night was rounded out in perfection when we happened upon a beach-side food vendor, serving up some tasty meat thing between 2 weird pieces of bread toasted nicely on his little grill of hot coals.  Ah, the simple joys.

Categories: Travels Tags: , , ,

Viva the Runner’s Nod

April 18th, 2010 1 comment

Yesterday I went for a three mile run, the first in several months (on a related note, I’m delighted to finally be experiencing warmer temperatures here in my new hometown: it makes the idea of exploring neighborhoods so much more inviting).

While rounding the mile long loop about Cheesman park, I crossed paths with another runner going the opposite direction, and we exchanged the runner’s nod.  You know the one: that quick bout of eye contact and the nod that follows when you get about 4 feet away.  That mutual, oft simultaneous gesture that in an instant conveys a mutual respect for the other’s physical prowess and hardness of core.

It’s damn near an act of solidarity.  One that says in an instant “hey, I know we could be both be sitting at home watching Family Guy reruns on Hulu right now like so many in our fair city currently are, but we, we are up to something greater.  The whole thing would be smug if it were spoken, but remains in check as a shared, silent gesture.

It’s  the eye-contact equivalent to giving another the respect knuckles, which you would, but doing so would necessarily mess up your stride.  It’s a celebration of human achievement.

At least that’s what I make it mean.

I love the runner’s nod.

Categories: Fitness Tags: ,

Panama in Review 4: Surf’s Up

March 16th, 2010 1 comment

It was our last day on the island.  At 4:45pm we would hop a plane back to Panama City, stay another night at the Hotel California, and wake early for our all day adventure back to Denver.

There was unfinished business.  Surfing.

But we weren’t sure if we’d fit it in.  Who knew when and if we could get a surfing excursion that included a beginner’s lesson in time, and besides, that morning we thought we’d do 9am yoga.  I like to think that fate kicked in when we arrived 2 minutes late to what was, in my experience, the first and only yoga venue not laid back enough to admit such barely-late stragglers.

So we wandered the main drag in search of surfing opportunities instead.  Ricardo, the rad proprietor of La Buga dive and surf shop, had a deal for us.  (Ricardo is rad for a number of reasons: wall full of PADI certifications, friendly manner of speaking English with his kickin’ Panamanian accent with which he can always convincingly tell you it’s a great day for diving, and Tracy and I were both pleased and unsurprised to see him doing well for himself romantically, apparently dating the smokin’ hottie who fixed Tracy’s smoothie that morning).  His deal: another person was going for an excursion at 10am and we could get in for $49 a piece, including a lesson, and back on land by 1pm.  Sold.  Pardon us while we run back to our room to change.

The lesson was a quick 20 minutes in a few forms, balance, and a fun test of whether you ride normal or goofy foot (i.e. with your left or right foot forward: the test is to push you from behind and seeing which foot instinctively leaps forward to prevent your imminent face plant).  Our lesson was held on the back porch/dock, and was punctuated once or twice by Ricardo stopping by to briefly and nonchalantly pump some serious iron at the weight station 6 feet away.  (Ricardo, you’re such a bad-ass.)

And then it was off to a nice patch of wavy water just off the beach we’d visited the day before.  We jumped into the water with our boards tethered to us by our ankle leash, and our instructor positioned himself with fins and snorkel in the middle of the bobbing water, ready to guide us to hang ten glory.

The premise of surfing, I now know, is simple: hang out in one spot, bob up and down as you wait for a good wave to come your way.  When it does, paddle like hell away from it so that you have speed enough to ride the wave once it does catch you.

How did I do?  I attained the goal I’d set for myself during our lesson: I managed to stand up and ride a wave for a good 8 or 10 seconds.  That was the last of maybe a dozen good waves I’d caught: on the path to said competence I’d had one good salty gulp of the sea, nearly ran over Tracy once, and appreciated the heck out of the aforementioned ankle leash about 4 times (when you fall off the board, the board keeps going: the ankle leash is pretty much the only thing that puts a cap on how far it goes).

In just two hours out I gained two unexpected things: a sudden and profound appreciation for the scattered bits of surfer talk I’ve heard all my life (ahhh… turns out that “catching some killer waves” is worth getting excited about!), and a wicked sun burn on the back of my legs (I neglected to mention the other side of the surfing equation: after riding a wave, you spend a lot of time lying face down on the board, peddling with your arms back up to where you started–it’s a fantastic shoulder workout).

The Delightful Sensation of Getting Hot

January 10th, 2010 No comments

It’s something that I experience every time I roll up my [by then] sweaty mat at the end of a yoga class at my new (and favoritest) studio, Core Power.

As good fortune would have it, the apartment that Tracy picked months ago (which I now graciously inhabit) is precisely a 6 minute stroll when you’ve got legs as long as I.  After a bumpin’ medley of strenuous poses like crow, side plank, and more chaturangas than you can count on your fingers and toes, the class is more or less a sweaty mass of mindful breathers.

I’ve just joined the ranks of the shirtless yogis during class, foremost as a matter of comfort (did I mention the rooms are kept at a pleasant-in-Denver-January 94 degrees?).  Add a full-wall mirror to the front of the room and it’s clear why I can’t help but notice the benefit of that rigorous steak and slow push-ups regiment I undertook in Argentina.

$119/month for all you can take registers (in my book) as kinda pricey at first brush, but since I was delighted to go 5 out of 7 days during my free week, I’m in.  At that rate of attendance, my per-class price is about $6.  I grew up knowing myself as scrawny and un-datable, so this constitutes a nice change of pace at a reasonable price!

Categories: Fitness Tags: ,