IN PHOTOS: Car-rille, a La Union surf spot, and a place suspended in time
LA UNION, Philippines – The bright yellow sign that greets visitors may read “Welcome to Car-rille,” but aside from that there is nothing welcoming about it.
It’s no matter for La Union’s surfers, who frequent the spot in Carlatan, San Fernando, to surf. As soon as they arrive, pay the caretaker the P20-entrance fee, do a wave check, and wax their boards – which takes about 20 minutes – they head out to the water and spend a good several hours catching waves and getting stoked.
Among the surf community, Car-rille is a beloved surf spot, and many pros and enthusiasts are quick to name it as one of their favorites. Its shore may be littered with trash, but Car-rille’s piece of the sea is wide enough to accommodate many surfers, its waves allow for long rides, and its sunsets are spectacular – things that thrill both seasoned and novice wave riders.
The rest of Car-rille is not as inviting for its visitors. The first thing one sees past the “welcome” sign is a wide covered area, with steps leading to the beach. A raised platform painted to look like it’s made of brick now serves as the spot where surfers prep before heading out. Sometimes surf students practice their stance there.
Across the platform, on the other end, stacks of tables and chairs have been set aside, only to be set up for the occasional birthday party or school event held there by La Union locals. Behind the stacks is a sink with a broken mirror, and a mountain of empty beer bottles at the base.
Farther in, one can see a structure still standing – but only just. It appears to be a house, built on top of an empty swimming pool. The roof is caving in, balustrades dangle from underneath cracked windows, and the exterior siding is peeling off – seemingly one strong breeze away from completely falling apart.
Inside, little bits and pieces indicate that the structure must have been a house of some sort. There’s an empty bed frame, empty drawers, empty cupboards. Walls with chipped paint and a bit of graffiti. A couch turned over, a table with 3 legs. Yellowing mattresses are piled on the floor.
Underneath the floorboards, there’s a makeshift chicken coop, with the fowl roaming about freely.
Beside the house-on-top-of-the-pool, there’s another building with doors closed. A dog by the entrance seems alert to visitors. Somewhere inside, the only sign of life is a radio playing the morning news.
Near the entrance to the beach, a stone structure made to look like part of a medieval castle overlooks the water. Its exterior is wrought with thick vines, and the staircase along the side is steep and wonky, but one can climb up to the top for a good view and more sun. Inside, the walls are painted with a forest mural – and then painted over again with graffitti. There used to be a second level, but it’s gone now.
Silent, empty, and run down, Car-rille the resort seems like the perfect setting for a horror film or murder mystery – but it was not always so.
Apparently, the property has been around for decades, and in its heyday, it was a thriving resort – the go-to place for conferences, company trips, and parties.
They say at some point people would even visit from neighboring towns and provinces to have their wedding receptions at Car-rille – and the now-graffittied watchtower used to be where the newlyweds would spend their wedding night.
Spending a night there now, or anywhere on the resort for that matter, seems less than ideal – though a separate building on the property still houses boarders who rent out rooms monthly.
The owner of the property, an elderly lady, still holds on to her dear resort, refusing offers to renovate or rebrand – and it seems she will be doing that till the very end. She does have heirs – and it’s only exciting to see what Car-rille could be once it passes on to their hands.
For now, though, it is simply a beloved surf spot – albeit with quite the story to tell. – Rappler.com