All must come to an end

Coming back from Cresta, we had been bedazzled by its beauty, but we knew with it, our trip was to come to an end. Our last day had arrived and dazed by the heat, we thought the Cantingas river to be best for letting the final hours pass before a needed night’s rest. The river was so clear, that it was hard to believe to be exactly that. Its water had enough cool to wash away weeks of unabated sun’s fury and with a lovely view all we needed. Many Filipinos had gathered here, as usual eating and drinking the local whiskey, and my pale skin seemed to stick out. Their eyes had lingered and glared at us resulting in a few initiating small-talks. Others would simply stare and wave. For a slight bit of privacy, we had gone downstream to bathe and savour our final moments while we could as the sun sank down out of sight.

Read more

The Pearl; Cresta de Gallo

Cresta de Gallo, a name alone so charming it propelled the idea of the entire trip. Upon further investigation of the tiny, captivating island, my love and I were enticed by its beauty. Having set our plan in motion, it also came as last due to its location. But finally, having hopped from island to island and so on, touring with a tight time-schedule, we had arrived on an early morning at the shore of departure. Going from the nearest land Sibuyan, we headed to the dot in a minuscule boat. A boat that remarkably took us there unscathed through the boisterous waves. I had not figured it would take us out that far, as it is the smaller version of a bangka, which might explain why the way there took unexpectedly long.

Neither of us minded the long haul however, since we had come from far to visit this pearl. When we arrived, I had been surprised, near shocked, when I found that it was only us. Us, the two guys manning the boat and the care taker of the island – plus his moonstruck cousin. We had been told stories before by the locals of previous islands and from what we had heard, there used to be a couple on the island. They had lived there and been granted the island by the government. Yes, they actually owned the island, though it was under the condition that they would not sell it. Now that they had grown old, they had moved and their family would upkeep the place. After a welcome, we began to wander around. The entire island was vacated, the most breathtaking combination of beach and sea I had ever seen and we had it all to ourselves for as long as we wished it to be.

Accompanied by a dozen starving dogs, we could not help but have mixed feelings about the gorgeous place. No matter how bewitching it is, there is little crueller than to keep dogs on an island that bears little to nothing and to then treat them poorly. As a small consolation, we fed them most of our snacks before venturing around the island. One dog of the bunch had decided he wanted more of the peanut-butter crackers and had separated himself from the pack to join us. We wanted to experience as much as we could, as well as bring home a picture captivating enough to draw envy from those back home. Thus, with a little canine sauntering behind us, we filmed and photographed the beauty spots, meandered the perfect white sand, soaked up the sun fierce-fully blazing us on this blessed day and went for a dip into the refreshingly cool and blue water.

Hours had passed and it felt like an endless experience no one could take from us. Though these hours could fill many pages of enticing reasons what makes this islands a paradise, as the evening grows late, I will keep it short and simply let the pictures tell my tale. When enough time had spent burning to a crisp, we had decided to unhurried return to land and say bye to the paradise and the adorable puppers on it. We left bewitched and in amour. Would we ever return, it would be bearing dog treats and a tent.

Chasing Waterfalls in the Philippines

A truly young girl, barely in her teens had shyly approached us. Lorraine was the name. She was to bring us there. Last time we had a guide take us, I had objections. This time was different though, as, despite the misleading age of the girl, it was quite a hike away. It wasn’t the fact that it was far, but that where we were headed, Cataja Falls, was hidden away. So well hidden, that with clear descriptions we’d not be able to find it. On my shabby slippers I followed the young lady trotting away over the rocks. It wasn’t really a path, but it was obvious this wasn’t the first time someone tread over here. We had to pass through a few bushy trees whereafter we entered into the open. From here, we could already see the waterfall crashing down, though it was far in the distance. Truly massive. Water at large quantity ceaseless chugged down the mountain. It left a perpetual trail of cascading water trickling to the river we walked along. We had been told that we could reach way up, though it would require adding some hours on top of the initial agreed hike. My love and I agreed that a total of three hours – back and forth – would suffice.

Read more

A MARBLE-OUS ISLAND

Romblon, known as the capital of marble, is home to a mesmerising marine life, picturesque beaches, a historic fort and over 38,000 people that are all but rude. It being one of the few islands with an actual tourist office, standing lonesome on the main square near the harbour, it is actually welcoming. Welcoming in the sense that a friendly – and chatty – woman awaits you with with advice on all surrounding islands, but also that wherever you venture off to, you are met with the smiles and waves of the friendly locals. Though the globetrotters come in scarce here, there are a plenty foreign, usually European entrepreneurs, having their business here. Therefore, even those that get overwhelmed by other cultures can find their peace here and enter a restaurant for a chewy German schnitzel or have a chat with the friendly Brit and Italian next door. If you wish to do a bit more than amble from diner to diner, worry not as this tiny island will surprise you with the beauties it beholds.

Now, aside from a presence in the cuisine, Europe has wiggled its roots in the history of many a island including Romblon, leaving various historical and heritage structures after Spain’s reign. The historic fort San Andres stands out the most as it looms over the city and sea, making it the absolute perfect spot for a sunset view. Since the climb there is on a set of tall, steep steps, the time the sun sheds its final lights is indeed best, as these steps paired with the Asian heat can be more than harsh. Expect to be met by the head of the organisation for reparation and maintenance, aka the guard and his friendly pup. This man, indubitably, will welcome you and if the place is not too hectic give you a free tour – but do tip. He will show and tell you all about the crumbling fortress that due to the massive and diligent restoration with the help of copious local as well as foreign volunteers remains to be a highlight of the petite island.

Of course, one does not go to these parts of the Philippines to solely admire the remainders of European influence. Though we did not get to experience the outer islands or any water-based activities due to harsh weather, we did get to tour around the island. On this ride-around, we came upon what in my opinion is, after Cresta de Gallo, the allurement of these waters; Bon-bon beach and Bang-ug island. Depending on which way you go around the island, this is either the final or immediate stop being close to the main city Poblacion. After stalling the scooter we rented for the day, we arrived on a long stretch of glistening, white sand. Sauntering along the water, the two of us headed for the island. Since the stretch is a fair walk, a ton of sunscreen is necessary to leave unscathed. Because the sun shone bright, at times feeling like a scourging whip of heat, but adding to the picturesque view that was sand, sea and sky. As if it was not enough, a rocky island of greenery fills the view with a breathtaking walkway of sand leading you through the sea at the right tidal. To our surprise it had been us, and us alone to admire the piece of art and without a queue or wait we took some of my favourite pictures before continuing.

Though this visit will leave the stops to follow in the dust, it is worthy to follow the not-so descriptive map and try to navigate yourself around the island in the search for the competing beaches, a lighthouse, a waterfall and to pass by the quarries before making your way back to the city or your accommodation. Romblon, of the Romblon province is a challenge alone to get to, but aside from dismaying the mass, has got an arsenal of sights. And upon departure, there is a world of souvenirs to take with, as the islet brings a strong game in the marble universe with competitive quality and for a reasonable price. Time to stuff your bag with gifts for the family!

How much effort would you put in to getting somewhere lovely but hard to get to? Or are you one that would put in effort not to have to go there and rather relax at the beach of your hotel?

A Roaring Ride on Romblon

As the boat docked, vendors as well as human mules awaited from shore, readily prepared to sell their goods or services. The air was thick and humid, and both of us longed for a long shower. We had just arrived at our third island of the journey. Waving away the thought of another plane, we had taken about every mode of transport there was in the Philippines commencing from Imus, Cavite to get via Mindoro into the Romblon waters. Today, we had embarked the ferry from Tablas to Romblon, the marble capital of the Philippines. Tablas had quadruple the size, yet none the appeal the tiny brother had. But since the sun had already gone down by the time we set foot on land, our fatigued heads had no means for exploration aside from tonight’s and tomorrow’s accommodation. Dashing the initial trike-drivers, avoiding the peak in charges, we wandered a bit before boarding a metal carriage that would take us around on this search. Neither of us being on the picky side, we had soon settled for a place and had taken that coveted wash.

On the next day, with no tours outgoing, afflicted by weather, the plan was to find our way around the island. As usual, the cheapest option being to rent a scooter. Due to the problem of our hotel requiring proof of license, -which both coincidentally forget to bring each and every trip -we had to rummage through the town on the hunt for the perfect, in tip-top condition bikes. At last, we had stumbled upon a hotel storing exactly what we sought for. My eyes widened in excitement, watching a powerful beast, but before I managed to make my pick, the lady on my side had shook her head. She questioned my driving capabilities and was reluctant to get on the back had I gone for flashy and swift. Agreeing in fairness, we had gone for safe. The only, minor kink being that none of the indicators worked. But, all those pointers distract too much anyways, who truly needs to know how much gas is inside or the current speed you are going at. So, with manual signals, we spurted off into the traffic

Tightly I gripped the handles, speeding off to our first stop. Once out of the town, we broke free from traffic and had, for part of the ride, a smooth ride for us alone. Roads that are steady and undisturbed in these parts was a rare sight. Most of the work on these islands, without a joke, goes to maintenance. Broken roads and torn houses due to poor infrastructure, mudslides and floodings is one of the main issues in these areas. At times, entire families leave us in the dead of the night as a mudslide crashes entire homes and everything that had belonged to them. Every island carries dozens of warnings and multiple safety centres for victims of the cruel acts of nature. Everyday, workers build along the roads in attempt to fight the nature and protect the people. Therefore it was rare to us to see a road hardly being worked on and relatively experiencing a tranquil ride, even if for a short period.

At least, it was an uneventful drive until few hours in, when steering became increasingly challenging. Already nearing the end of our day with most sights visited – which is a subject I will return to – the bike began acting up. It seemed that the defectiveness of the motorbike did not only lie in the indicators as the bike pushed us to a side for which I had to overcompensate. This had began to happen on the rougher, rockier roads and I, with my scooting experience had managed to safely manoeuvre our way until we rejoiced with the even road. There, with the help of a couple of intellectuals pointing out the source, we unravelled the mystery and discovered a flat, back tire. In quite the quandary, we understood that continuing further than we already had would not be wise. Let luck be on our side, when meters away was a mechanic that would fix this situation. Him and his assistant were in quite the laugh and shock when they pulled out a worn out and on numerous spots punctured tube. This tube had been mended a many times that I lost count after the 14th patched up hole. The silver-lining, as they replaced it with a new one, was that my reckless riding most definitely had not been the reason – and could thus continue as we finished up our tour.

I choose to write about Romblon, because it is a place I love and felt welcomed. Mindoro, Tablas, they both are a must if you have time and are near! They too are absolutely wonderful islands with lots to do. If you happen to wander there as well, feel free to ask advice. Do’s and don’ts, the few details you won’t find online or simply for a more opinion-based advice.

A brick of the wall of fear

Back in my lover’s arms, it was not long before I dragged her with me from island to island in the beautiful archipelago. A short flight had taken us to the well-known Cebu where both of us would, without truly realising it yet, face our fears. Though it would be under mild conditions, nonetheless it required a big swallow and hopefully it is a brick in the build-up of the real deal. For my lovely Filipina, it is the water she fears. No, she is not scared of the kiddie-pool or anything to that liking. It is the depth of the endless oceans and seas as well as the big creatures within that intimidate her. Nonetheless, time after time she had proven herself to be bigger and stronger through the swimming and snorkelling we had done up to that point. But, today would be different, today would be a terrifying day for her.

Read more

A Temporary Goodbye

Tears flooded over her precious cheeks. We had spoken of our time together, our “December” frequently, holding on to the tiny thread that held us sane, yet when it was finally within our grasp, the moment had just as soon passed. Begin of December, we finally intertwined with the longest of hugs. I then met her family, we travelled together, went on ventures normal couples go and made life heaven and hell during the two glorious months spent together. All the time that we had already known each other cramped into two measly months. Two bloody months of passionate love and happiness and then life takes it all back. Kicked out of the garden of Eden, my paradise. Back at the airport, with parents and daughter in tears. The hourglass’s sand had gone and there was no way to turn it back around. We already used up that trick on my 2nd one month’s visa. Time’s up, money’s up, get out of the Philippines. We both wished it to be easier, but we knew then and we know now that not all passports have equal privileges. So, morosely, I swung my bag over my shoulder and trudged my way to the security while she remained. Gloomily, but nonetheless a little excited for the land they call Down-Under I boarded my flight.

It won’t be the last time this gets mentioned, but the toughest part always lays in the first and the later stage of a long distance relationship. Upon the onset of being companion-less, it is the change that crashes upon you. Alone, there is now a constant silence. For many years, I had embraced that silence and been happier within that space. After finding my true love, that changed a fair bit. Because she is the only one with whom I don’t filter my personality. Then, getting used to being on your own again, you begin with accepting the temporary forsaken feeling. Not being able to communicate the random, silly thoughts that pop up or discuss the topical events of the day. It’s what makes the first days or weeks hard.

For every person it works different, but once you get there, to the accepting the distance and working with it, life is good for awhile. You do your thing, whilst often in contact with each other. Loving messages, late night calls. All the good stuff. But, slowly yet steadily, the later stage encroaches, when it has been months since you have been within miles reach of your lover. This, is when you go down the slope of insanity. At the brink of, you crave the touch and sight of your partner. The need to breathe the same air, share the same space. Honest to god, it doesn’t even matter what you do, all you want is to be in the same room, because where you are now is a lonesome pit that craves the feeling of being filled with love. Love that is at a distance had oft been worse than the life of a lone wolf I lead previously, as the latter would not feel the lacking of it. In lieu of, I knew what I could have and yearned for more. Friends and family could be all they are, but being months, a year, or more for some, away from the one you love so dearly, it would drive almost anyone mad. This, we experienced every time we had to say goodbye – and also explains some of the future decisions I made, but more on that later.

Luckily, still deeply embedding the happiness this trip had brought me after ages of waiting and bearing the excitement of a little kid in a candy-shop as I was headed for a work opportunity in Australia, it could have been worse. I felt more grateful for the life I had than the solemness of who I lacked. I am young, healthy, got an amazing girlfriend and have the opportunity to travel in this manner, so stop bitching, amirite? Australia would be exciting and could help with the funds for a return. Some weeks ago, I had contacted the owner of a backpacker’s motel and there was a promise of farming jobs. Eager as ever, I flew to Mildura with a stopover in Sydney and Melbourne. Forced to linger a night in Melbourne, as a flock of birds had flown into the engine, Qantas Air had provided me with the nearby upscale hotel. I paraded in my fancy room upon having graced my body with the bathrobe and ordered myself some late night costly dining on Qantas’s credit. Australia had welcomed me with a grin from ear to ear and delirious from lack of sleep I fell onto the soft mattress for a long due rest. The following day, full with good spirits and believing nothing could bring me down, I would arrive in the insignificant town 500 km North of Melbourne. There, the lady from the web would bring me to the wee village Wentworth and soon that smile turned to a frown.

What are similar unexpected surprises you got from an airline?

A Filipino Household

A beach seemingly endless with sand shiny from the bright sun hanging at twelve in the clear sky. A sky mesmerising blue. Then a small whiff of the fresh air enters your nose with a pinch of the salty smell that comes from the sea. A sea with water so clear it is hard to tell how deep it goes. Taunting you with its alluring waves gracefully crashing onto the beach. You share this galaxy of sand and sea with few, whom are scattered either basking in the sun or bathing in the refreshing water. This, is the Philippines. Staying in a little hut or cottage, chasing after waterfalls and the many water-based activities. The heaps of beautiful islands and beaches, is what majority who has ever been to this archipelago will remember. But, crushing that paradise picture, it is not the Philippines I will be taking you to now. No, I am talking about quite the opposite – although for me a tiny paradise nonetheless. Imus, Cavite, a suburb of Manilla. Quite the distance from the capital, yet the same jungle of rip-roaring tricycles, jeepneys and usual traffic. Coming from my teeny town with scarce traffic, this mayhem of continuous honking and dashing vehicles left me quite bedazzled. The house had been right on one of these crazy roads, but, believe me or not, the traffic wouldn’t be the main issue. No, it wasn’t the endless sound, it was the daily heat during Philippine’s cool period. A humid heat arising from late morning until the end of the afternoon would leave me blazing the fan as I laid like a dried up frog sprawled out on bed. This hot madness, was where I would be staying for a large amount of the time.

Now some of you might wonder how I wound up in a Filipino home so far off the beaten path to begin with. To those unaware, three years ago, through the wonders of the internet I came upon a tiny Filipina by the name Kath whom managed to charm my heart and leave me enamoured enough to plan a visit. So, fast forward a year later when I had begun my Asian travels, indubitably, her chaotic suburb had become part, if not the primary destination, of my travels. Something that kept me up at night, was that I would be spending my time in her family’s house. It had made me nervous, to say the least. With hindsight, the anxiety was just. I remember when the mascot of Jollibee made me dance to “Baby Shark” in front of dozens of Kath’s relatives. Seeing how every time that we entered a Jollibee anywhere one of these mascots would be there, and as only white guy attention was oft on me, I was not the biggest fan of this food chain. Especially with regards to their horrible menu. Though I am a great advocate of pineapple on a pizza, I’d keep it off a burger and the mushroom gravy turns the burger into a soggy gravy-yard.

Speaking of Filipino food, I strongly believe, to truly experience the local food, you’re best off in a Filipino family. Though you will taste plenty during your travels, the surely authentic food remains within the households. Though no Malaysia, I have indulged in some of the greater meals within the four walls of my lady’s family. And one thing they did best was make sure I was fed. The whole house would echo “Kaiiin, kaiiiin” at the voice of the mother when food was served. I did have to get used to having rice multiple times a day however. Usually, we’d eat as a small group in the home, but at times we would be outside sharing the food with a bunch. I had soon learned my favourites. A plate of sizzling sisig with a smell alone that gave me a watery mouth or a plate of delicious garlic rice and some longganisa. It is when intestines, livers and pig’s blood is brought to the table that I fancied a break.

Then there is Kath’s family. A family unaware of a visiting lover until last minute. The house was quite full, with a younger sister, an older one, an older brother, her parents and grandmother. Coming from a place where we all have our own space and privacy, it was an interesting change to be in a home where most is shared and where I have slept at least once in every possible room during my two stays. From crashing on the couch to at times even sharing the room with others. But once you are nearly spooning the grandmother of the family, well, you become family. That, they did very well. They made me feel at home and welcomed into a new home. The younger sibling teasing me with a meme I am a “lookalike” of while the one older asks about our travels and future. Both the parents would joke around, the mother making me join in on a game of bingo whilst the father would urge me to drink the local whiskey with him. On Sundays there would be either Korean shows or karaoke. The latter being the national thing, occurring during weddings and funerals, birthdays and pub brawls, everywhere in the Philippines you will find karaoke. Thus even in this household.

Then there is the grandmother. She is a special one. She would wave at me, shouting in Tagalog and gesturing as if today I knew what she meant. Then she’d laugh and point at my face. That, or she would try to sway me into finding her an “Americano” prince for “dollah dollah”. She reminded me of my own grandmother, also fairly cuckoo but sweet at heart. The only tough nut to crack was the brother – who was often away at work. He had been protective of his younger sister who now all of a sudden had a boyfriend from the other side of the world. But truth be, I have sat down and talked to them all and staying there has gained me a whole other family. Even to the point that the oldest sibling long moved out had granted me with the status of god-father of her (then) unborn child. It has been a blessed experience and I am extremely grateful for everyone I have met in the Philippines.

Have you ever fallen in love through the internet, or are you currently in a long-distance relationship? How do you deal with the distance?

A Filipino Feat of Fortitude

“Don’t worry, my love, we will have plenty of time”, had been the words that departed my arrogant smile as I calmly entered the bathroom. Cocksure that it would be the two of us on the pier with a tumble weed passing by awaiting the crowd that was to come. Alas, I was askew, as once we arrived in our carriage, known as a ‘tricycle’, all had long amassed. Accepting defeat, we passed through the check in before entering the tiny boat that was packed. I placed my bottoms on the seat that had been illuminated by sunlight. Like an over the top lit Christmas tree, I sat brightly in the sunshine. A bench of hot coals under me and a face glistening red from sweat produced by the searing hot, shining sun above. Perhaps now is a good time to apply sunscreen. Anxiety was resting on my shoulders, whispering in my ear how our bags would fall in that alluring, blue water would we place it down, as there was zero cover. Soon we would find a secure place for our luggage, however for now, we had to continue carrying the burden of the clump of fear stuck in the mind, displaying the event over and over. I have never been the same since the dive of my phone. I shook my head, as a fog of dizziness flew by. Winter, They said. It is winter.. Avoiding the sun had not been a task easy however. Thus, we awaited the commencement of the departure from El Nido to Coron as sweaty blobs, hoping the boat would turn from the sun.

Read more

Prominent in the Philippines

The day before we had seen a colossal turtle while snorkelling. My head dipped under the water with the rest of my body and the tube guiding air to my mouth gallantly wavering on the surface of the beautifully clear, blue water. I glanced up at her, smiling. However, she urged me to quit waving my hand like an idiot and to focus my attention down below. A massively big turtle was calmly passing by, blithely deviating from his track as to cozen its pursuers. I jutted my arms out straight, as if I was near enough to pet it. Fervently, I followed the turtle with eyes gleaming. I was amazed by its size, something unexpected. When we had abandoned the stunning beach after a delicious meal, they had briefed us that we would search for this water dweller. However, I imagined the size of the slow-pokes swimming in a pond, similar to when my phone had chosen for a dip. Mistaken that I was, I was now staring at this, with my comparison, giant turtle. Amusingly, it hadn’t been the highlight of the day for everyone. It was the royal blue tang, well-known as “Dory” to most, that shook my beloved to excitement and had her let out a giggle. Enamoured of her adorable cackle, I could not help but chuckle myself. It had been a long day of snorkelling and hopping islands. Two baked buns, one more than the other, had little choice left but to crash into a deep sleep after a mojito or two.

 

As dawn had come, shimmering its light through the curtains leaving sun ripples on our blanket, after that deep night’s rest with praise to the generous bar-lady pouring rum as if she was overstocked that evening, we had set plans to hike in search of cascades. Once we overpowered the strong gravity on the blankets, and our bags were hike ready, we commenced. Given a short route description in Tagalog, we headed out with a boiling sun heating our necks. A lovely dog, named Doug by the enamoured couple, left his tiny paw prints along the track following and guiding us with pride and joy in his eyes. In reality, a second dog had been there, yet we do not speak of him. When approached by a threesome of puppers, the double-sized dog had frantically chosen the direction we had come from, nearly flying until it had gone passed a turn and not to be seen again. Not Doug. Our dear Doug, when exposed to a threat, whether the tiny Cerberus or a giant buffalo, filled with fear he stood his ground and made no sound.

The first cascade on the list had been the small one, as I had gathered from the Tagalog explanation. The water had a delightful cool touch, which had been gratefully welcomed on this hot winter day in the Philippines. Having viewed a many National Geographic shows, I had anxiously hopped over the tiny, brownish puddles worrisome to be struck by that nasty parasite to in a string of time be aired on an episode and have a new disease named after me. My brother got the Danniasis after his travels in Asia. Whilst hopping, I had made the decision to climb higher up for a more picturesque view. Watching the dog follow me, with ease both getting up and down, he seemed the perfect Assassin’s pet. Perhaps with their next release, which is bound to come. The four-legged stray pet seemed to be comfortable amongst humans. A blissful smile resting on the carefree canine. The beach-life truly does bring joy to all, it seems.

Upon reaching the main cascade, after having bought snacks off a young girl keeping a shop all by herself, we signed a log book. Guiding Doug to pass the creek, having small fears that our new, temporarily adopted dog may slip, we cross and prepare for the dip we had been waiting all day for. “It is cold”, are the words I mumble, as I dip my toes into the encroaching ripples. The water that engirdled my pale toes was clear, yet its descendants further in grew darker and darker, until it was pitch black. Imagining the grotesque creatures inhabiting the deeper, darker water, near the dead log, created for a complete different ambience. As the words had left my parched lips, she had already been deep in, ice cold water surrounding her gorgeous waist. With a playful smile, she splashed water upon me and jested me to grow some and enter. A lady known to take her showers cold out of preference did not shy away from diving into the freezing water that only had grip of my tiny toes. Doug was waddling with waggling tail behind me, as well dubious of whether to proceed to enter said frigid water. Yet, bearing the cells for the next kin, it came with the duty to be – or come across as, which I am most certain I am far too late for – manly and thus I did. I followed the lady with the beautiful smile Step after step I advanced. Until I stood beside her, writhing of cold, as well as basking in the release that had come from cooling my body on one of the many searing hot days that make for the Philippines.

 

Watching her feed the staunch dog that seemed bound to us, having followed us, now guiding us back, I could not help but smile. I reminisced back at the day I finally had gotten to see her in person. Shied away behind her father, she had shown to be smaller than I had expected. Lips arched into that gorgeous smile. Her hair curved around her head, the frame to the perfect picture. That very moment, I had not been anxious. All fears, nervosity and anxiety had disappeared like stars come dawn. Not a single trace left. It felt normal, yet special. The way it was supposed to be. For so long I had yearned to see her in person. Bound to be, but distanced, we fought each and every barrier to be there to hold one another. It hadn’t always been easy. Struggles, fights and aching. But now, at last, I was here. Holding her hand, watching her feed a stray dog that may or may not be dying by the hand of the leech on his ear and everything felt perfect. That, is how love is supposed to be. Perfect through its imperfections and difficulties. The woman who agitates the hell out of me, yet is the balance amid the chaos. The sunshine on the darkest of days merely by being present. She is a present indeed. Worth every single effort. She gave me a loving smile – mesmerising really, magical, capable of bringing joy on the gloomiest days – as she handed me the chips to give Doug a handful. Hungry that he must have been, politely he awaited without snarling or wheezing. He did not bite upon receiving the snack either. A stray canine with manners topping most pets. May Doug have won the fight against the leech.


Gazing at the horizon, viewing Filipino ships in the the clear, blue sea, I had a gluck of my nth mojito and thanked myself for the choices I have made. The choice to be happy, rather than stuck in a college dorm surrounded by walls seeping depression into the room. The choice to enjoy life as I find my place into the world. Thereafter I thanked my family for supporting me with every step that I took. Too often I had to listen to the phrase “If I was your parent I would never let you do this.”, yet here I was, from a South-African tour, to a cycle and hitchhike in Europe to a love in Asia and never had I been doubted or restrained by my amazing family. Then I thanked her, Kath, the lady that brought and brings strength and happiness into my life. Grateful for the life I lead, I must move forward. Once finished with the Philippines, I shall, however, that must come after the mojito. What is next? We shall see. See, we shall.