Wow! What a day! Kristina rendezvoused with us at 5:00 AM. We started the day by heading back up Kawa Kawa Hill to take part in a tree planting event in celebration of Arbor Day. Many local teachers and perhaps 200 students took part. The actual planting of trees was taking place on the back side of Kawa Kawa Hill on a surprisingly steep slope.
The photos didn't capture the steepness, so I took a quick video:
I was really impressed by the number of teachers and students that showed up at 5:30 AM on a Sunday morning to climb a steep hill and take part. To me, it demonstrated that the lines between a school community and a community as a whole are blurred, and that service and participation is a foundational aspect of provincial Philippine life. We met the mayor at the top of the hill, we are scheduled to meet her at her office at a later date.
We had breakfast at the foot of Kawa Kawa Hill. An outgoing and precocious student from one of Kristina's classes joined us. It was a treat to get to talk with her about everything from school to Game of Thrones. By 7:30 we were off to Legazpi for our next adventure: riding quad bikes up to the foot of Mayon Volcano. What a blast! A good portion of the trail up was actually a small stream. The clouds covering her summit parted as we got closer and closer to Mayon.
We dismounted near the foot of the lava wall formed at the furthest reach of the lava flown from the most recent substantial eruption. The views were breathtaking. Here is Mayon, the worlds most conical volcano:
Here is the view in the opposite direction, towards the sea:
Riding a quad bike through a stream up the side of the worlds most photogenic volcano was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Jenn, Angelo, and I were grinning ear to ear beneath our dust masks the whole time. I suppose I should mention that this is all happening on the weekend. I am here to grow as an educator and to represent the American educational system. This is a business trip. But if school is not in session, why not ride a quad bike up a stream up a volcano? Here's a minute-and-a-half video of us traipsing our way to Mayon because why not?:
Next on the agenda was the Cagsawa Ruins. The centerpiece of the ruins is a the bell tower of a church dating to 1587. In 1814 the Mayon Volcano erupted, showering the church and the town that surrounded it with fiery debris. All of the wooden structures burned to the ground, only the stones remain. It was a quick, and interesting stop on our epic day.
Our final destination was Sumlang Lake. Sumlang Lake was developed into a tourist attraction by the captain of the barangay in which it is located. As always, Mayon Volcano provided a stunning backdrop.
We took a lesiurely raft ride around the lake. It was the perfect way to relax after a day packed full of activity. I made myself comfortable:
See you tomorrow! But first, bonus pictures!