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26 April 2013

God, the Desert and the Tenacious Cow: Getting Lost in the Sand Dunes of La Paz, Ilocos Norte

“If you want to talk to God, go to the desert.” I cannot remember exactly who said this statement or from what book it came from but I had a semi-profound personal experience on this subject matter.  In 2008, I went on a solo short trip to the sand dunes of La Paz, Ilocos Norte.  It was not exactly the same desert where Moses spoke to God, but I was not really planning a chat with the Almighty.  The trip to La Paz (“The Peace”) was more of a side trip than my main destination but the desert has always fascinated me.  When I reached the place, I got so excited that I immediately explored the many winding dunes without realizing that you could easily get lost in the desert.  I saw a white cow oddly chewing grass.  Why would a cow be in the desert? It was the last place for a cow to look for vegetation.  Anyway, I just ignored it and considered it another oddity of the desert. I saw a remarkable tree in the distance and ran towards it. Once I got there, I turned around and discovered that I could not pin point exactly where I started my journey.  The horizon looked almost the same.  If I took the wrong return path, I might end up getting even more lost, perhaps trapped for a few hours.  La Paz desert is not expansive so I was not really in any danger, but imagine if it were as huge as the deserts of Egypt, you would literally lose yourself.

Before panic took over me, I sat under the shade of the lone tree and enjoyed the silence. The heat of the sun was intense but it was not unbearable.  It is funny how the desert can easily help you empty your mind. I did not exactly converse with God but I felt her or him there.  I guess she or he knew what was on my mind anyway so we let each other be.  After almost an hour, I dared to make a choice.  I looked around and chose a specific direction. Relying on faith, chance and some scientific thinking, I took my chosen path, walking straight, not wavering. After several minutes, I climbed up a familiar sand dune and once I got to the top, I saw the white cow in the distance. I was close. A few more hundred steps, I climbed another sand dune and from the top, I saw the concrete road below. I made it back.

I took a tricycle and told the driver to take me to the beach.  Once I set foot on water again, I felt quenched.  All that time, the sun was above me shining.  I wrote on the sand, “Rob is here.” Indeed, I am.

P.S.  A trip to Laoag would not be complete without going to La Paz.  From Laoag proper, you can rent a tricycle to get you there and ask the driver to wait for you. (By Rob San Miguel)

La Paz Sand Dunes
Left: The tenacious cow / Right: One of the lone trees
The solitary tree and footprints in the sand, mine by the way
The woods that hid the beach
Water at last.  "Rob is here." (Forget grammar, poetic license takes precedence)

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