Tag Archives: Camiguin

Camiguin: Secret Cove Beach Resort

While researching about Camiguin, I also considered staying at this resort but was put off by the resort owner’s rude replies on TripAdvisor (I’m fine with an owner setting the record straight, but not with one insulting a reviewer).  Nevertheless, I decided to give its restaurant a try since it’s supposed to be one of the best in the island.

I came here for lunch.  I made an effort of going here because on my 2 days at Action Geckos, I did not like the food I had for my dinner and breakfast as mentioned on my review of Action Geckos’ restaurant.

Secret Cove’s restaurant is on its main building.  It is right by the beach.

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Though the restaurant was small, its bar is well-stocked and they claimed on their website that they have the best-stocked bar in the whole province.

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I was the only diner when I came here, though I did meet some Caucasian guests on their way to dive when I arrived.

Here’s what I ordered:

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Chicken Cordon Bleu Php 290
Date Square Php 70
Bottled Water Php 35

The staff asked me if I was willing to wait since cooking time for the Chicken Cordon Bleu is an hour.  I said yes.

Despite the one hour wait, I found it undercooked.  Well, the chicken was already cooked but when I cut it up, the center was very cold.  It obviously came straight from the freezer and was not thawed properly.  Too bad as it tasted good.  Good thing the potatoes were well-seasoned and cooked just right.

On Secret Cove’s website, they proudly shared an Inflight Magazine writer’s praise for their triple decker mango cheesecake.  I ordered this upon arrival but when it was time to serve the food, the staff told me that it wasn’t available.  She recommended their Date Squares, which was good but not extraordinary.

For those interested in checking in here, here’s how its accommodations look like (lower left photo in the following collage).  This is to the right of the main building/restaurant.  It looked freshly painted and with new roofing, but it still looked bleak to me.

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In front of the main buildings are bamboo cottages, hammocks, and plastic chairs.  Though the loungers and chairs looked new, the hammocks, bamboos, and the cottages’ thatched roofs were in dire need of an upgrade.

Like Action Geckos’ beachfront, Secret Cove’s also has black sand.  Too bad it was such a cloudy day when I was there.

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Secret Cove Beach Resort is in Yumbing, Mambajao, Camiguin.  Visit their official website for more information.

Camiguin: My Favorite Sunset Photos Taken at Action Geckos

I mentioned in my previous post that I spent almost a quarter of an hour watching the sun set at Action Geckos’ beachfront.  I was so into the moment that I had over 50 photos from this experience.  In this post are my favorites.

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the sun’s metamorphosis

I started camping out by the beachfront when I started seeing the skyline turn yellow orange.

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IMG_3034I watched in amazement as little by little, the once blue and yellow orange/orange skyline turned red orange.

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It was that dramatic shade of red orange that from where I sat, it looked like the horizon was afire.  

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As I looked at the beauty of the setting sun before me, I thought of how no matter how many sunrises or sunsets I see, I never get tired of looking at either as I find them so beautiful!

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At some points, I stopped taking photos and just enjoyed the stunning views while the crashing waves tempted to lull me to sleep.

Moments like this make me recall the lyrics to a Snow Patrol song.  It says, “If I lay here, if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?”

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Being a witness to views like this sure made me forget the world I left behind.  For a time, I wasn’t a career woman with a never-ending to-do-list to accomplish.  I was just the wide-eyed wanderer with no care in the world.    

Eventually, the skyline turned red and the sun hid itself among the now-deep purple clouds.

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Camiguin: Camiguin Action Geckos Dive and Adventure Resort

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stunning sunset at Camiguin Action Geckos

This was where I spent my third and fourth night in Camiguin.  As I had already toured the island’s attractions on my first two (2) days in the province, my stay at the Action Geckos was purely for leisure.  That is, I spent my 3 days here doing nothing but sleep in my room, or read a book while listening to the crashing waves, walk along its beachfront, or just laze at one of its hammocks without a care in the world.

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the entrance and the resort’s main building that serves as its front desk and restaurant

Accommodations
I booked via Agoda, since the rates I got here were cheaper than what I saw on Action Geckos’ website.   I specifically chose their Beach Bungalow because of its beachfront location.  It’s expensive at Php 2,150 per night for a solo traveler, but it was worth it.

I especially appreciated their warm welcome.  I was charmed when I opened the door and saw the bed canopied with an intricately-made mosquito net.

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I was even more charmed when I saw the welcome note with flowers.  Such a sweet and thoughtful gesture.

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And I loved my room’s furnishing too!  Who knew you could make beautiful ceiling lamps from a bulb and strainer?

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And the bathroom was beautiful!  I loved the mosaic of colorful tiles on the vanity and the floor.

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And yes, after making do with just cold water and using dipper at Enigmata, it was nice to finally have access to a shower with strong water pressure and hot water.

My room was called Ardent, which is named after one of Camiguin’s hot springs as featured on this blog.  It has a hammock and wooden loungers right at its doorstep, which offers me a good view of the sea.

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I loved that my room was right by the beach.  Even when I chose to stay in my room as it was too hot outside, I could hear the waves crashing against the shore.

Aside from the hammock right in front of my room, there were hammocks too beside the bungalow where my room was located.

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Dining
The resort’s restaurant is called Tuko (Gecko) and serves local and international cuisine.  I loved its very native ambience.

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My first meal here was the dinner I had on my first night.  I ordered their specials for the day, which was Meatballs with potato chips and garlic mayo and mango shake (sorry I forgot to take its photo).  I did not like it.  The garlic mayo was too garlicky and the mango shake was bland.

The following day, I had Filipino breakfast, which consisted of tocino, egg, and tea.  Yikes!  It was the worst tocino I’ve ever had.  It was too salty.  I told one of the staff and they said it’s homemade.

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Since the food I had so far were not good, I opted to go out for lunch but come dinner, I had no choice but to again dine at Tuko as there were no other resorts or restaurants near Action Geckos.  I had  Spaghetti Action Geckos, which was described as Asian style spaghetti with chicken and vegetables.  It sounded interesting, but I found it weird.  It’s like pancit, but with pasta.  And it’s again too salty.  By this time, I was convinced of the resort having expensive but so-so food.

The next morning, I ordered Helvetia for breakfast, which is a combination of grated potato fried with onion, topped with melted cheese and bacon bits.  Tuko’s menu specifically mentioned that it had a 20-minute preparation time and the staff who took my order said so too, but added that it’s a specialty so I took her word and was not disappointed as it was the only food I liked here.  For my drinks, I upgraded my regular coffee to Latte Machiato.

Beachfront

Unlike White Island’s white-sand beach, the beach here has black sand.  Though this is something not new to me as we also had black-sand beaches in Aklan (I’ve even blogged about one of them HERE), I found the black sand here to be the finest.


It was nice to walk barefoot on it and watch my feet create footprints, or just sit and watch the horizon while squishing the fine sand between my toes.

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On Action Geckos’ photo gallery, they had photos of their beachfront with volcanoes (or mountain range?) as its backdrop, but I did not see such a view.  Instead, I chanced on these sights, but the volcanoes/mountain range were not right in front of the resort, but about a dozen meters from it.

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Too bad the towering coconut trees were blocking the views (or perhaps when the photos were taken, the coconuts were still not that tall so the mountain range was very visible from the beachfront).

While walking along the beachfront, I also chanced upon these fishermen.

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You may have noticed that my beach photos so far had overcast skies, and that’s because the weather was pretty bad on my second day here.  Thankfully, the weather improved on my third and last day.

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Note the bluer sky and the sea.

Garden
Action Geckos’ garden is beautiful and most of the flowers were in full bloom when I was there.  My favorites were the colorful cosmos that came in yellow or pink, or a combination of both.

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There were white and pink vica plants (top photos in the succeeding collage) too, as well as sampaguita (lower left), which is the national flower of the Philippines.  I don’t know what the other two flowers are though, but I’ve seen them before.

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There was hibiscus too, and more flowers that I’m familiar with, but cannot specifically identify.

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Sunset

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Action Geckos’ location is perfect for sunset-watching .  On my first afternoon here, it was cloudy so the sunset was not that colorful.

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On my second and last afternoon though, the sunset was mesmerizing.  It came in vivid hues of red and orange.  I must have spent a quarter of an hour watching the sky change colors while the sun was sinking beyond the horizon.

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The main photo on this post was from the same set.

In closing, Camiguin Action Geckos is one good accommodation option when in Camiguin.  It’s more expensive that other resorts but because its newer and well-thought-of design-wise, it’s worth the splurge.  Their restaurant though, is an altogether different story.

For more information about Camiguin Action Geckos Dive and Adventure Resort, visit their official website.

Camiguin: Flora and Fauna In and Around Enigmata Treehouse

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The above is my favorite photo from this set.  I tried googling its name, but came up empty-handed.

And here’s the rest of the flowers I saw at Enigmata Treehouse.

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Of the above, I am only familiar with Heliconia (middle, left) and Hibiscus (upper right). The all-yellow flower (middle, top) is actually that of a bitter gourd.

I also took the time to check out the neighborhood and here’s how it looks like.

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It’s a nice, quiet neighborhood, with a good view of the mountains (or volcanoes?)

While walking around the neighborhood, I also chanced upon these interesting flowers.

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Isn’t the Cosmos beautiful? I used to see just its orange variety so I was amazed at seeing this pink specie. I don’t know what the yellow and lavender flowers are called, but I’ve seen them before. The orange flower is called Lantana. I find this flower deceiving since it looks beautiful, but smells anything but that in our dialect, it’s called baho baho, which means smelly.

These plants that are mostly weeds also caught my attention. I couldn’t individually identify them though, save for the Mimosa Pudica, or makahiya (upper right).

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These animals also caught my attention. There’s a farm in front of Enigmata and all these animals were from there save for the black cow and the pig.

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The turkeys were the most troublesome of the lot because they were so noisy that they and the crowing roosters were my daily alarm clock when I was in Enigmata.

I’ll end this post with my favorite shot of a grazing sheep.

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How cute.

Camiguin: Enigmata Treehouse Ecolodge and Art Camp

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the 3-story high treehouse is built around a giant acacia tree

This was where I stayed on my first two nights in Camiguin.  I chose this because I fell in love with all the crafty knickknacks I saw on their website and read only rave reviews online about their food.

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paintings, okil art carved on wood, painted recycled glass, dreamcatchers, and sculptures

According to its website, Enigmata means “to open your eyes” and  “enter the journey inwards the creative circles of the mind.”  As a social enterprise, Enigmata maintains a low-impact eco-friendly treehouse ecolodge cum training venue for its artists and students.  It promotes homestay with the purpose of guests experiencing a meaningful visit in Camiguin while engaging in and interacting with the community to understand local life and the environment.

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views from the garden (upper and lower left) and from my room (upper right), and my Guest Book doodle/message

Accommodations
I booked the Eagle’s Nest Suite, which is at the topmost portion of their treehouse.  Its rate is Php 1,050 per night per 2 people, with Php 300 extra person charge for the 3rd person and another Php 300 for the 4th person.  As I was a solo traveler on this trip (traveling solo was part of my to-do list), I had the whole spacious accommodation to myself.

The sleeping area has two levels.  I opted to sleep on the lower level (upper left photo in the succeeding collage) because it’s more convenient, especially since on both nights, there was a blackout so it was quite a challenge to climb the narrow stairs.

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Enigmata is not the usual hotel or resort so they don’t have modern conveniences like TV or air-conditioning, but they do provide electric fans, which I did not even use since the fresh air was enough to keep me cool.

Enigmata’s Eagle’s Nest also has a very spacious living room, with a dining area, hammock, and wooden benches.  It even has its own fire exit.  Cool, huh.

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The hammock was my favorite corner here.  I was out on tours on 2 days, but on the days that I was home, I was mostly in this hammock taking a nap or reading a book (I was on digital detox then so I turned off my phones and for the first time since I worked, did not bother to bring my laptop).

Toilet and Bath
Only in Enigmata did I find a painted toilet and sink.  The mirror above the sink was also painted to match the toilet.

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Though there was a shower, I had to use the pail and dipper most of the time because when there is a blackout, water didn’t come out from the shower and even from the faucet.  Still it wasn’t a problem because there was enough water in the two water containers.

Like the rest of Enigmata, crafty knickknacks are all around Eagle’s Nest, from the rooms to the living room, and the sink.

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The area where the sink is (lower left photo) actually looks like a kitchenette, but that’s just it.  It has no cooking paraphernalia and dishes obviously as a safety precaution fire-wise.

Dining Experience
I dare say that Enigmata has the best food among the places I’ve dined in in Camiguin.  They’re not always well presented, but they are definitely yummy.

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My first meal was Pinoy Lutong Bahay, which is a choice of adobo with egg or tinolang manok.  I chose the former and was surprised at what a huge serving it was.  It was really good and just the kind of adobo that I like, which is salty and tangy.

Next I had Pasta Filipina for dinner, which is spaghetti pasta in red sweet sauce and parmesan cheese.  We Filipinos love our pasta sweet and Enigmata’s version is as Filipino as can be.  I loved it.

The following morning, I ordered their Morning Plate, which consisted of sunny side-up egg, bacon and ham with rice or toast and coffee.  This was my least favorite food in Enigmata.  The bacon was not crunchy and the ham was too sweet and oily.  And the coffee was obviously straight off a 3-in-1 sachet.

Lastly, I had their Mamarosa pizza.  Its toppings include black olives, vegetables, and mozzarella cheese.  I’m not really a veggie person and I always order all-meat for my pizza, but this was strongly recommended by the staff and they were right.  It was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had.  And the healthiest too, no doubt.  For my drinks, I had mango shake, which was brownish yellow and this may be because they used brown sugar to sweeten it.

Balay Kalipay

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This library café is an open house theater with a nipa roof and bamboo floors.  This is where I take my meals, save for the dinner I had on my second night, which I took at my own dining table at the Eagle’s Nest.

Strewn here and there were art pieces like paintings, giant chess pieces made of wood, cloth draping, dreamcatchers, wind chimes, etc.  There were hammocks too, colorful mats, and throw pillows.

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Ganda Art Galeri
This is Enigmata’s souvenir shop.  Ganda, in the Filipino language means beautiful.  Here, they sell paintings, dreamcatchers, handmade pieces of jewelry, shirts, and whatnot.

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I bought a shirt for my souvenir for only Php 200.

There were wire art for sale too, which I found interesting.  The artist was able to create a motorcycle, a rose, and characters from Transformers (bottom photo) using just common wire.

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The paintings were beautiful and I marveled at knowing that the ones in shades of mostly brown and black (first four photos from the top) were painted using sand and mud.

I was actually lucky to have met one of their painters.  Christopher painted the one with children playing luksong tinik (middle photo below, which was still unfinished thus the blank face of the girl) and the one with the boy and the dog.  Isn’t he so talented?  Just look at the details and shadows in his creations!

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Christopher also cooks well.  I found out on my last day that he prepared most of my meals.  He also became my driver when I hired him to bring me to Camiguin Action Gecko, my next stop after Enigmata.  He was so nice and helpful and declined my tip even  when I insisted.

The gallery also stands as Enigmata’s front desk.  This is where I settled my bills and, where a staff was always visible.

Most of the time, the staff played guitar at one corner of the gallery (lower left photo).

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Isn’t the wall nice?  It looked like a spider’s web.  And just look at the floor with sunflowers on it and the ceiling with a canopy of paintings.

Kusina Aha!
This is Enigmata’s kitchen.  Cooking is not really my thing so the whole time that I was there, I ordered my food from them.

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I just find it interesting that even this turned out into a work of art.  Note that okil carved on wood on the doors and walls and the pugon (furnace) that’s carved into a face.

And yes, smoking is prohibited in Enigmata and they do charge corkage fees.

Swing Garden and Green Pool
I love this garden canopied with hanging vines with white flowers, though the green pool was empty.  It would have been nice if it has water and maybe lotus flowers.

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The hammock here became my crib whenever I waited for my food to be delivered at Balay Kalipay.  In both days that I was here, I saw turtles.

Art and crafty pieces everywhere
Anywhere I looked, there were interesting work of art around Enigmata like these painted umbrellas hanging from the ceiling.

And see, even the doors were painted!

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And just look at their wooden stairs (middle right photo) that were painstakingly carved with flowers, ferns, and whatnot.  These stairs were on the main treehouse and led to the second floor.

Right after the entrance, attached to the wall of the gallery were birdhouses.  There were wooden carvings, painted bottles, and painted stones too.  Anywhere else, there were painted canopies, colorful dreamcatchers, capiz art, etc.

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There were recycled pieces too like a wall art made of bottle caps (top photos), blinds  made of recycled magazines (middle photo, left) and colorful drinking straws (middle, right), and lanterns made of recycled CDs and lightbulbs (bottom photos).

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There were sculptures too, which were found mostly in the garden save for the Enigman (upper right photo in the following collage), which was found on the road leading to Enigmata.  Enigman is renowned sculptor Kublai Milan’s masterpiece created as an expression of the Filipino culture bearer rooted from the roots, carrying the culture of remembrance  that represents  heritage and traditions.

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The sculpture on the top-left photo is that of a dancer and a musician whose union is like that of the earth and sky – a duality that gives us back our wholeness and oneness.

The sculpture with a gecko on it is called taong tuko while the one on the bottom right is that of a taong bao.  In our dialect, a tuko is a gecko while a bao is a turtle.  These representations were chosen because the gecko is known for its reverence to the earth, which the artist likened to a tribal man rooted in his culture.  The turtle man, meanwhile, is the voice of the sea.

Lastly, here’s my favorite work of art among the many interesting pieces I saw in Enigmata:

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It’s a wall made of recycled bottles painted to look like stained glass.  It was so beautiful!  Natural sunlight was streaming in and all the colors are just so nice to look at.

A note to visitors/sightseers
Enigmata is open for guided tours, but only by appointment and only from 2 PM onwards (click on the following collage for more information about Enigmata, and what can be seen there).

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If you find yourself in Camiguin, do find the time to visit Enigmata, or better, make sure to try out their cuisine.

A note to those who want to stay here
As interesting as it is, Enigmata is not for everyone.  It’s not for someone who wants the comfort of an air-conditioned accommodation and hot shower, or the luxury of a really comfy bed, or goose down pillows.  And definitely, it is not for the fussy one, or the scaredy cat.  It’s not for someone who balks at trying to find your way through the dark during blackout, or at using a dipper to take a bath because there is no running water.

Enigmata is a treehouse and from time to time, you will see spiders, lizards or ants.  Once, a lizard climbed up my leg!  And expect to hear crowing roosters at dawn, and chirping birds the whole day.

By the way, I asked to check their backpackers’ dormitory, which was only at Php 300 per person per night, and this is how it looked like sans the bedding, which they set up only when the room/bed is occupied.

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Note that this particular room category has a shared bathroom and since it’s located on the ground floor, you’re not technically on a treehouse.

Also, Enigmata does not provide any toiletries or towels even for their “suite” of a room, which is Eagle’s Nest, so do bring your own.  And do bring a flashlight and insect repellant.

Despite the cons I listed, I truly enjoyed my stay at Enigmata.  It was a unique once-in-a-lifetime experience that brought me closer to nature and made me appreciate art more.

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For more information about Enigmata, visit their official website.