I had made a couple of friends on the bus, and when we rolled into the station, they immediately set out in the fog to make reservations at Midnight, supposedly a happening club that was in all the DIY CamSur itineraries online.
But we weren't there for that. We were in CamSur for the experience of a special Ancient Age-themed inn we'd heard a lot of but knew nothing about.
We checked in. The rooms were all beige and wooden, the beds not even soft. I was disappointed -- until a voice on loudspeaker told us to hold on to anything. The entire building started shaking, then it started moving like a gigantic rotating stage prop (and the voice on the loudspeaker said as much, more poetically), dislodging itself from the site.
First, all I could think of was, "There would have been no plumbing?! What about the plumbing?" Then I held on to dear life as the rickety structure rolled on the highway for half an hour then slowly entered what looked like a gigantic driveway.
"Welcome to Ancientsia," the voice said. Then it proceeded to give us a tour of all the amenities. There was a grayish field that was Pompeii after the volcanic eruption, a bright sunny field where you could dust off some fossils as if you were in Greece, expansive diggings on the ground that was straight out of Egypt, et cetera, et cetera. It all looked authentic; most of the fossils, one of a dinosaur, were even real.
What struck us most was an area that was a reimagination of ancient Philippines, tropical and lush. There was a small jungle, and you had to cross a land bridge to get to the marsh, then a short walk would get you to a lake. The "lake" was a mishmash of bodies of water separated by mud dikes.
There was one section with a natural hot spring like the one in Pinatubo (you could boil an egg), while another had what looked like thick boiling mud. Another section had sweet and cold water from a natural spring, and that was the visitors' favorite because it was closest to a swimming pool.
Entering the area, we were given hard hats and a choice of containers (a plastic jug for liquid samples, a plastic box for more solid specimens). I stayed behind because I wanted my helmet in a color that "meant something," but the staff manning the entrance had no idea what I meant.
When I caught up with my friends, there was a small drama brewing. Jimple had disappeared for a couple of hours with a new guy friend, and Lorie and Sherwil were upset at the principle of it because he had helped that guy friend "get some."
I showed them my plastic water bottle. "Let's collect samples," I wanted to say, but I dropped it into the water and it floated away, slowly melting. Then I noticed how the tourists had dirtied the water, all sections of it.
Sherwil, Lorie and Jimple made up and they said they were going to wash up and maybe we could check out Midnight. Since I had arrived late, I lingered.
When I was alone, the waters in all sections suddenly receded, taking away all traces of human presence, and yet some of the drains and water spouts were revealed like a magician's hand. Fresh water quickly replaced what had been drained and when all the pools were filled, the place was magical again: bubbles and tiny waves sparkling in the sunset's light, and there was even flying fish in the cooler waters.
It was beautiful and I was alone. So I called out to my friends, and they came running back. We spent a few more hours in the natural spring section, talking about our lives. Lorie was the last to speak -- when Jimple suddenly turned into John Lloyd Cruz.
"You haven't seen me," she said, "as in really seen me." We nodded. Then she asked, "Can you see me?"
I said, "Awww."
Then I excused myself to use the restroom.