Volcano Venture: Taal


Steam rises from the rocks as we pass the halfway point to the top of Taal Volcano. The sun beats down on us from high overhead, making the gradual uphill climb feel more difficult than it really is. The narrow, rocky trail diverges into multiple forks. At least there’s less dung up here than down at the start of the trail.

By the time we reach the summit, I’m glistening –nay, drenched– with sweat. But the view, a volcano within a lake within a volcano, is worth the effort. The skies stretch for miles over forest and water, tranquility emanating from all around. I sip my fresh buko (coconut) and admire the view. Momentarily, I forget that this is just a couple of hours south of Manila.

During our descent, the heat and the narrow pathways wear on me. I’m losing patience with the passing horses that push pedestrians up against the rocks, and have even less patience for the guides that steer the horses as though nobody else is on the path. I don’t catch myself quickly enough as I blurt a loud, sarcastic “Seriously??” when I pass a congregation of horses standing side by side as though in a corral, making it difficult for anyone to pass.

Mentally smacking my rude self, I keep walking. The tourists don’t tell the horses where to go. The horses are just going where they’re directed. The guides are just doing their jobs. I shrug off my temper, thinking that if I can just get back down to the shore, I’ll soon be cooling off on the boat ride back to the coast. My spirits are bolstered by the thought of food; we’ll be lunching at Leslie’s, where I can better admire Taal from afar.