I know something about small, unique islands, having lived on one every summer for the past twelve years. Bohol Island in The Philippines is not as small as they come but they do not get any more unique. This jungly island paradise has two features that can be found nowhere else in the world.
The first are the Chocolate Hills. These gumdrop-shaped hills are made of limestone so the soil can’t support anything heavier than grass. This creates an unobstructed view of the hills, which turn brown in the dry season. Kalina, like any curious three year old, assumed that the hills were made of chocolate and that she could just frack the tops right off and collect their yummy goodness. Rather than dash her imagination, we just explained that fracking is a destructive practice and that we should leave the chocolate where it is so the hills can be enjoyed for generations to come. Then we bought her a candy bar.
It’s actually a funny story about the candy bar. On the menu it said “Chocolate Milk” so one would assume we were ordering a beverage. When a milk chocolate candy bar arrived at the table we shrugged and added it to our long list of ordering mishaps. That tricky English language where word order actually matters.
The second unique feaure of Bohol Island is the real reason that we had traveled so far: the tarsier. Although the tarsier lives in the wild on a few islands in the region, only Bohol has a sanctuary where guides can point them out. They are so tiny (3-6 inches tall) that a little spotting assistance really is necessary. Since tarsiers can’t survive in captivity, you will never find one in a zoo, so to see one you need to come to Bohol.
You may ask yourself, as I did long before I knew better than to question these things, why do we need to see a tarsier? Why travel halfway across the world to see a tiny animal that looks like a monkey or a bat, but is neither?
The origins of the story are hazy. But at some point Radek became obsessed with tarsiers. There was something about the grumpy look in their freakishly large eyes. There was something about the way their bizarre alien fingers cling to a tree as they sleep. Needless to say, the tarsier quickly became Radek’s spirit animal. As soon as we arrived on the island he could feel their tiny, sleepy presence and the suspense was palpable. And his first glimpse of the aborably cranky tarsier was a beautiful thing to behold.
In my expereince, whatever the excuse (seeing new places, having a meal, achieving extremely important life goals), traveling halfway across the world is always worth the trip.