For the last 5 years Puerto Galera has been Reef-World’s home but with an ever expanding conservation team and the ability to increase conservation outputs, we were fast becoming a big fish in a rather small, but well liked, pond. So a little while ago now, on the 6th May, with heavy hearts, we loaded up a Jeepney and began the 800km (37 hour) journey across the Philippines from Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro to our new home in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental. As with living in any developing country, the ride was less than smooth. Twice the jeepney was delayed because of full ferries but at least this allowed Sam and Alan, our project coordinators, a chance to watch a beautiful moon rise and get some much needed sleep before the 1am ferry, which eventually left at 330am. At 7am the jeepney and load was greeted on Panay by blazing sunshine and preparations were made for a day of travelling. Making good progress, the jeepney arrived at Dumangas Port, Iloilo in time for yet another full ferry to depart without us. Despite this, driver and crew always remained in good spirits and demonstrated unrivalled driving skills; pushing on constantly except for dinner and ferries. Even the caretakers of our new houses greeted us with smiles despite us arriving in Dumaguete at 3am, 36 hours after starting out. At 4am, unloading our new office and house had finished and much sleep was had, though not before a quick ‘we made it’ photo opportunity. Unrelenting, the jeepney crew were awake 3 hours later and preparing to leave for the return journey!
For Reef-world, Dumaguete boasts many logistical bonus’ that residing in Puerto Galera just wasn’t providing. Better internet speeds to make those conservation emails deliver that little bit faster, closer to international airports (in both travel time and distance), and the chance to have closer networking relationships with a wider range of stakeholders have all been factors in our relocation to this place we now call home. And while we will miss little Aninuan and Puerto Galera we are consoled by the fact we will be back there soon to coordinate the yearly Green Fins assessments.