Eat, Stay, Weed

There’s a giant toad, bigger than any I’ve ever seen, living outside my front door.  An even bigger gecko serenades me every evening from a nearby tree.  Dragon fruit plants, papaya and mango trees, and all the fresh vegetables you’ll ever need cover the hilly landscape.  And it’s hot, so, so hot.  

Dragon fruit plants

I am at Nature’s Healing Home, a yoga and healing center outside of San Fernando, that is also a farm, campground, BnB, restaurant and home.  There are a few small bungalows and huts scattered around the property, which is owned and run by Prescilla and Richard, my hosts.  I am not here as a tourist, but am participating in a work exchange through Helpx, a website that matches travelers with volunteer or work exchange opportunities (post coming soon about this).  I receive three wholesome organic meals a day, along with a private room and bath for just $4 and a few hours of work.  And there are four dogs to play with!

They’re actually very friendly.

I start pulling weeds, or helping in any way needed, after our 7:00 breakfast.  By 10:00, it’s usually too hot to do any more work,  so I spend the rest of the morning soaking in the nature and solitude around me.  After lunch, I sometimes have to retreat to my room and point the fan on me for a few hours just to survive.  By 5:00, it’s a little cooler and soon after there’s a gorgeous sunset over the South China Sea.  It’s eight miles away, but looks so close.  

Two of the huts available for rent.

After dinner with my hosts and the two children who live on the farm, I do the other part of my work exchange, which is tutoring McTerry (13) and Alzera (14).  These cousins live here at Nature’s Retreat and help out with the chores when they’re not in school.  They are both fun to work with and eager to learn.  

Alzera and McTerry

It has taken some time to adjust to this lifestyle.  I really want to be the kind of person who loves gardening, nature, solitude, cold showers, being disconnected from the world, but the heat and the bugs still bother me, and the afternoons with little to do sometimes seem endless.  Getting to and from town is no easy task with limited transportation options, but the other day I caught a ride to town and spent a blissful afternoon in an air-conditioned cafe.  Why do the comforts of the modern world make me so happy?

Taking a break from weeding (Photo by McTerry)

On the weekend, McTerry and I explore the beach, after doing our chores of course.  And now that I’m in my second week here, I am getting used to the slow pace.  In fact, I have a list of things I want to accomplish (blog posts, photo work, taxes, emails to write, planning my next work exchange, etc.) and can’t seem to get much done.  

Enjoying nature, playing a little volleyball, looking for shells on the beach, washing my clothes by hand, digging in the dirt – it’s all starting to feel right.  I’m even enjoying the unpredictability of how I will get to town.  Sometimes the wait is 20 minutes, sometimes an hour, sometimes I squeeze into a jeep or motorcycle, or ride on the back of a dump truck.  It’s all good.  

Catching a dump truck ride down the mountain

I know when I return to my regular job and the incredibly hectic schedule, I’ll long for days like this, with nothing to do but listen to the sounds of nature around me.  And when I’m not overwhelmed with the heat or swatting mosquitoes, I have moments of peace, no stress and total relaxation.  I’ll try to take some of that with me when I leave this paradise.

There’s always something new to see on the farm. (Photo by McTerry)

Even though this is not the Eat, Pray, Love journey that many of my friends hope I’ll experience, I did have a wonderful prayerful encounter last night which I will write about soon.  

Waiting for a ride (Photo by McTerry)
Beauty everywhere (Photo by McTerry)
One day we crammed five passengers into a “tricycle” (motorbike with a sidecar)
A trip to town isn’t complete without a visit to Jollibee
It’s always an adventure (Photo by McTerry)
Beautiful beach at San Juan
Collecting papaya at the farm
Having fun at the beach
Buried alive
Cool breeze going down the mountain
Bonfire for the weekend guests
Fire tenders
Enjoying the fire

Comments (15):

  1. Lori Liguori

    March 6, 2017 at 06:07

    What a delightful surprise I receive early mornings when I read your posts, Tim! So inspiring! Enjoy!

    • Tim Flanagan

      March 6, 2017 at 21:50

      That’s the advantage of being 13 hours ahead – I can write during the day, post at night, so it’s ready when you wake up. Otherwise, I’d never have a chance!

  2. Anne cylkowski

    March 6, 2017 at 06:39

    Tim the farmer boy Tim you can do anything! Pictures are great please tell McTerry excellent picture taking. How long is this work exchange and have you figured out where you’re going next?

    • Tim Flanagan

      March 6, 2017 at 21:57

      McTerry was so happy to hear you liked his photos. I’m here for another week, then heading to a colonial town in the north. Haven’t lined up another reliable volunteer opportunity in the Philippines, so I might travel for two weeks before heading to Laos. Fly to Hanoi March 30, then make my way to Laos. Still deciding where to stay/work there.

  3. Paula Agins

    March 6, 2017 at 12:57

    That is my question as well, where next?

    • Tim Flanagan

      March 6, 2017 at 21:59

      Good question! I love that this is the most stressful part of my travels – deciding where to go next. See reply to my sister, Anne, for details.

  4. Vicky Ann Deledda

    March 9, 2017 at 23:10

    Think of how much you’ve learned on your journeys!
    Love the catchy titles of your blogs and beautiful sunset pictures.
    Like the idea of your work exchange programs and the $4 a night.
    Did you wish you had my deet ?
    Please find some philipino shells for me, ask
    And I’m only sorry I didn’t venture on a dump truck ride down a mountain ….
    Can’t wait to hear about the prayerful encounter, Timothy! Xo

    • Tim Flanagan

      March 11, 2017 at 20:45

      Took another dump truck ride yesterday – it’s always fun. McTery knows he has a fellow shell-lover in Connecticut.

  5. Vicky Ann Deledda

    March 14, 2017 at 13:15

    Thanks for bringing a part of me with you!

    • Tim Flanagan

      March 15, 2017 at 21:34

      You’re always here.


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