Monday, April 30, 2007

Rough Waters

Just a kilometer or so north of Lianga is Lawis, a small coastal community that would be unremarkable except for one thing; it is the location of a fine stretch of white sand beach fringed by coconut trees that would do justice to a tourist picture postcard.

The beach itself in long and wide and the sand a fine, grayish white that you can sink your toes into. One can run barefooted all the way from the shade of the coconut trees across the wide expanse of it into the waters until you would have to tread water and it would still be sand underneath.

The water is nice, not exactly crystal clear but clean and soft to the skin. The scenery is fantastic and during early mornings, the sunrises as seen from the beach can be spectacular. An altogether not mediocre beach at all and definitely a place worth visiting.

One then wonders why this beach has not become a favorite spot for the local tourist trade. It is located only more than a kilometer from Lianga and there is already a dirt road that gives easy access to it. A few small sea cottages for rental have been built and can be already used in one section of it but there is no other infrastructure development of any kind.

One reason perhaps is that the beach at Lawis is also known for its relatively big waves and thundering surf. Particularly during the storm season in the latter part of the year, the waves along the whole stretch of that portion of the coast particularly in the southern part can reach heights of four feet and more. That and the gently sloping sand bottom can produce white-capped monsters that roll in in ranks like white-veined walls of turbulent water that crash into the beach with a thunderous roar like runaway trains.

Even in the calmer months, the beach might not exactly be the ideal spot for families with small children to come to for a weekend outing. For the hardier and braver souls, frolicking in the water while coping with the frisky waves can be an exhilarating experience but also an exhausting one with no small element of personal risk involved.

I once had the temerity to try the waves last December and instantly regretted the decision. Four foot monsters topped by crowns of white, frothing and turbulent water all smashed into me and pummeled me even underwater. I ended up near the beach battered and sore all over while cursing my stupidity for even attempting what was obviously a foolhardy and even dangerous stunt.

A week or so ago I tried it again and although the waves were not as large as during my last visit, I still had a good workout dodging and jumping them while making sure that the undertow would not pull me out to deep water. Not exactly safe waters for children and even adults unused or unfamiliar with power and violence inherent in these white haired offspring of the sea.

I don't know if the waves are big enough to tempt surfers of various kinds. Perhaps they are not big enough or maybe they are unsuitable for other reasons and the beach in Lawis will never amount to anything except as a curiosity or a destination for the adventurous and foolhardy.

But that is precisely the reason why I like it.

Some places are just like that. Not that good or perfect enough to merit that much attention but also not too bad so as to be totally unattractive to visit. What is important is the place has character and the Lawis beach definitely has that.

It is a place that seems to be in waiting for something, something that may never come to be. There is a sense of incompleteness, of unrealized potential mixed with a great deal of indifference as if the place would not care less whether it would amount to something or not.

So in the meantime it broods, ponders and churns out the magnificent waves that seem to crash into the sandy beach with malevolent anger. Yet the anger is, most of the time, seemingly muted and subdued.

It is perhaps that ambivalence that marks it well and it is also that indecisiveness that may be the cause of it's own undoing.


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