If you're a Catholic and is looking for an activity which is both spiritual and physically challenging - head for the Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes at San Antonio in Donsol Sorsogon.
The Grotto is about 2 kms away from town proper of Donsol. You can reach it either riding a motorcycle or a jeep that ply the route. It's about 20 mins or less. If you want to offer it as a sacrifice, then you can go and walk the whole stretch. If you walk leisurely, it's about an hour and a half walk.
The Grotto is on top of a mountain and has more than 100 steps going up. But before you reach the steps, you will trek down the first mountain. Don't worry there are cemented steps going down and going up the actual mountain where the grotto is. There is a way of the cross along the way, just pray, you won't find it tiring.
There's a stream at the bottom of the mountain but during summer this dries up.
Average size of family in donsol is SEVEN - 5 kids plus papa & mama.....excluding their lovers. ONe of them disclosed that he has 27 lovers. I will take a large pinch of Donsol sea salt, but there is some truth in extramaritial affairs though the number is likely to be much lower.
From the town centre, take a walk towards the central market. Once to hit the road closest to the shoreline, turn left and walk about 300m till you reach a short 20m bridge. Cross over and turn right towards the sea. As the path begin to turn left, you will arrive at the fish market where fishermen sell their catches directly to household at P70 per kg.
It a chapel structure up in the hill. One has to walk two rolling hill slopes for about 1.5km to get there. Not much of a sight unless you are a Catholic interested in magical healing stream water.
Pepe of Razo Inn got me Francis to pillion bike me around for 4 hours for P200. It took us about 1/2 hour to get there from town.
I have discovered this to be thrilling when we dive and swam with the 'butandings". The BIOmen advised us to ride on the boat's outriggers while moving to another spot when searching for the whale sharks for easier and quicker jump-offs when interacting. Anyway, the boat are moving then at much slower speed.
Really thrilling that on sailing back to base, my 12 year-old daughter and me rode at the outriggers upon request with the boat skipper of a manageable slower safe speed.
More thrilling? I tried clinging at the outrigger support and did body planing on the water. Done with precaution.
Being really out to the sea from the shore when gone Whale-shark-watching, I encouraged my children to get a feel of swimming in the middle of the deep blue sea. On one of the rest stops, my children and I jumped into the water (but of course with life vests on) and have fun swimming to and fro using the boat's outrigger enclosed area with the boat as the limited swim area. My children got to prove that swimming on shallow or deep waters - no difference, just keep afloat. Hahaha!
this is the poor section of Donsol. But the people are warm, very optimistic and much much happier than some riches that I've see in Singapore.
This village is located at the end of the one-lane bridge leading to the Whaleshark Center just off the town center. It is built on swamp land.