Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Da Pagan@venture

First leg
The trip north last week was as calm as can be. The water was great as our path north was smooth as we took our travel time at 9 knots. We had arranged our "watch" hours from the start of our leg north until our destination-Pagan, but we had cargo too-to off load in Alamagan.

It was midnight into our trip when I was awaken for my watch which ended within sight of Guguan around 4:00 a.m. I woke up the next watch, when to sleep for a few and before I knew it, we were fast approaching Alamagan. There were cargo to off load there but the task was much easier when Ben Santos came out with one of his brothers on a motor boat to meet up with our ship. A couple of cargo were off loaded into their boat and in less than an hour, we were off on our way to Pagan which was about 3 hours away.

Upon arriving Pagan, Sid and his young brother Sandy also came out on their motor boat where we also off loaded some supplies. Sid decided to tag along on the ship as we were to do some trolling around the island. Some won't believe it but the trolling catch there are monstrous in size. Talk about yellow fin/ white tuna and wahoo which were the most catch. Deep bottom launched us Onaga, yellow and black Pakapaka, Gindai and some Karikari. These were all pretty good fish (especially in the pots and pans).

Night dive
I became the boatman for the divers that night. The moon was a bit high for night diving so we had to wait it out until it sets around 7:30. With the tide just beginning to rise as I dropped off the divers, the swells were also getting bigger but I had to stay the whole time with them as I wait for them to land their catches in the boat.

D @venture
I went inland the next morning as Sid Pagan had requested that I assist his brother Sandy slaughter some cows to take back to Saipan. Sandy and I wasted no time in executing this task. We hopped onto his old but operable A.T.V. and off we went to the foot of the volcano where about 50-60 cattle were spotted but once they took scent of our presence, off they go stampeding on a southerly direction. We took off after them (on foot) but they had a better start than we did.

Da calf trail
Sandy and I took a small trail when we spotted one of Sandy's dogs running about behind us. With no hesitation, Sandy just grabbed the dog behind its neck and started slapping it like silly but I guess that's how he trains them to behave better as they all do-except for this naughty one. We continued on the small trail as Sandy leads the way when something white came pass me from the right that I thought the dog came back but hell no. It was a calf that kept trotting in front of me towards Sandy's direction so I gave Sandy a light whistle. He turned, grabbed the calf and up onto his shoulders as he continues. Sandy had to tie the poor animal to a small branch as we came to a ravine. We continued searching for the herd but couldn't locate them as Sandy told me they had probably gotten down to "the lake".

We decided to go further south but first, we must advice the others who were still waiting down at the village of our intention. We did just that but Sid Castro decided that Sandy hang back and prepare whatever cargo that was going out to the ship as he will lead the trail with me. Francis (one of our shipmates) decided to tag along so off we went. Up and down the hill we went. This is not to say I had a "flashback" but this trail somewhat reminded me of the jungles of Panama except with the absence of rain.

Da flat
We took a few wild game trails up the hill and upon coming up the flat were both east and west coasts reviewed a spectacular view-and a more promising view to the south flat with numerous spectacles of cattle, Sid only informs me "shoot first, ask questions later" I jokingly asked "who will I ask questions if I should you first" only to come back with "la'nao Frang". I pointed into the direction of a hill on the south-east and informed Sid "that's our fire direction" as he acknowledged.

We slowly made our way closer toward the cattle. Two loners to our left while the rest of the herd grazed on the right, still about a couple of meters but I wanted a sure shot so I moved closer not knowing my two companions had stop several few meters behind me. I guess the two loners to my right picked up my presence as they first took off running followed by the rest. I jumped to my feet, aimed but had their behinds towards me as they trotted away from me. Kept my aim on no particular head but as they all had no other way to run but back towards my direction, I just fired into the group as I wasn't about to become a victim of a stampeding herd. Fired three shots as they started running off down hill to my right.

O2 needed
I had not seen Sid and Francis behind me or anywhere in the direction where the herd was now headed so I ceased firing-fearing I might hit them. Just then I started hearing shots fired as the herd came pass them both. I aimed again (at no particular target) but into the running herd, fired several shots and started running downhill after them. I stopped a few meters from where I had started running, took aim at a bull behind the herd, fired a few more shots as I saw it started coming to a walk. Gave aim at another, fired and on the ground it went crashing. All the while Sid was also shooting into the same direction. I just didn't know which target he was aiming at but into the herd.

I started running down the hill again after the trotting bull which had now stopped under some trees obviously injured but still standing. I had ran out of ammo (you stupid *uck) and called up towards Sid who was still in his previous choice of firing position. He and Francis came down running to where I had chose to catch my breath-flat on my ass.

"Da thing"
"Hafa" Sid asked as I was still sitting breathless pointing into the helpless bulls direction. Sid attempted to get closer but the bull started walking off away from sight. I just watched as Francis and Sid proceeded towards the direction of the cow, Sid taking aim, gave it a single shot and I asked Francis, "is it dead" and only replied "no". Sid took another aimed, shot again and came the same question from me "is it dead" with the same reply from Francis "no". I only looked at Sid who was taking another aim "lania Sid ti Waake enow" as he took another shot and turned "yeah, ti waake nay na gaaga".

Sid headed back to the village to get the rest of the party and after 30 minutes was back to our location with the slaughtering cavalry who had also managed to bring along with them a wild boar which had been attacked by the accompanying dogs. Cutting up the 3 cows was easy but the travel back with the meat to the village was something else we had to decide how to best handle without killing ourselves.

Change of Plan
Sid decided the fastest way to get the meat on the boat was take it down towards a place they called "the Chapel" which was nothing but a formation of rocks on the east coast. It was all down hill and less distance than back tracking it back to the village. Besides, it was getting dark that even the silhouettes of the fruit bats were out flying above us.

Plan "B"
Sandy was to go back with K.C. to the village, take all the cargo out to the ship and have the ship brought to the back side of Pagan. With little time to work with, plan "B" was activated. All the meat was brought down to the beach on the east coast of Pagan. The problem we now faced as we arrived on the beach was something else to take into consideration. The tide had just started rising and the waves bigger than expected. The small channel we had planned on bringing in the small boat was almost impossible to use.

We collected the plentiful coconut husks on the beach, built ourselves two fires and sat beside them as we considered other options. Julius informed us it was a bit risky to use the small channel we had thought off using to transport our cargo of raw meat. Got our heads together as we observed the ship slowly approaching our way and decided against "Plan B". Besides, the small boat operator was turned back to the mother ship as we didn't want to risk bringing it in with the current condition-dark and pounding waves.

Plan "C"
There's was no Plan "C" until now. We're all speaking vernacular and felt sorry for our other hunting buddy who did not understand shit of what we spoke off so we had to make him understand that we were to stay on the beach and make a break for the channel come first light. We're hungry and John jokingly suggested we roast one of the hind legs for dinner. Arlin had separated some soft part of the meat in a separate plastic bag of which he brought out. "Sirloin" he said and out came some of Sandy's "escape supplies" stashed right there on the beach. Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Black Pepper and believe me not, aluminum foil and tomato ketchup that was among a few from his supply. This really wasn't survival style but rather a sumptuous dinner for us on the beach.

Bunked up
Everyone started getting comfy on their own piece of huge lava rock-make shift bed. Julius gathered dried coconut fronds which he lay on. I did the same except, the spot I had chose later became infested with ants. It's around 3:30 a.m. and couldn't hack the ants anymore so I collected more coconut husk, built two more fires (only these were much bigger) and lit up the entire camp. Everyone else started getting up and either chew or light up a smoke complaining why I had to built those brightly large bodies of fire.

Just as we could now clearly see the channel at first light, K.C. comes speeding into the channel with the small motor boat. We loaded the meat and our equipment and off we went to the mother ship only to explain to the Captain of how we came about with "Plan C". The rest from there on was back to catching more fish. Anyhow, I was surprised to see the stray calf on the ship.

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