I do not expect any sympathy from my readers, but traveling is hard work. My new friends and fellow year-abroad travelers, Maya and Tony, understood me completely when we discussed the stress of making so many decisions while traveling. Which room to book. What country to see next. How to get there. Which app to use for the best deals. Where to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Which coffee shop to choose. Make one wrong decision and it leads to disappointment – an upset stomach, money wasted, a six-hour bus ride that turns into twelve hours due to traffic, suffering through a long night in a cockroach or spider-infested room, or taking a bucket shower every day.
And then there are the things that need to be done that don’t disappear just because of traveling. I still have bills to pay, tax forms to complete (still looming over me) goals to pursue, grants to apply for, exercise that I should be doing, family matters to attend to, laundry, shopping, and more. I’m not on vacation. Usually, you leave all of these responsibilities behind when taking a vacation because it’s just for a week or two. I’m just living my life somewhere else.
I’m not complaining. Just trying to give a complete picture of this experience, and I would do it again without hesitation. One year is not nearly enough time!
After leaving the farm in San Fernando, I traveled for ten days in Vigan, a colonial town and UNESCO site, and Palawan, home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The most amazing experiences came from the people I met, however. I will write more about this, but the words haven’t quite come to me yet. Stay tuned.
For now, I’m taking a week off from the “stress” of traveling to catch up. I have rented a studio apartment on the 28th floor of a building in a hip neighborhood near Manila. The air conditioning and wi-fi are strong, there’s a beautiful view of the city and bay, I can prepare my own meals, there’s a pool downstairs and I have a real shower with hot water and a door that closes!
I will try to catch up on some writing and photography work, maybe get my taxes done, complete another grant application, and just enjoy the comforts and quiet of this place. I don’t even need to venture into the city, but there is a volcano nearby . . .
Tony and Maya will be passing through on their way to Vietnam, so I will spend time with them one day. And I will be helping a photographer friend another day on a project he is working on. I will also finally make a decision about my next adventure. I have four volunteer opportunities in Cambodia and Laos. I wish I could do all of them, but must choose one. The stress of too many choices!
Next Friday, I head back to San Fernando. I couldn’t leave the Philippines without spending time with my friends there (expect more adventures with McTery!) Precilla offers a free yoga camp every year to students in McTery’s school, so I will help out at that, pull more weeds, do some tutoring, suffer through the afternoon heat, eat healthy meals, and be happy for having had the experience. I will fly to Cambodia on April 15. It’s already getting hard thinking about saying goodbye to the Philippines (another downside of all this travel).
If any readers are interested, McTery and Alzera each wrote a poem on my “Where I’m From” poetry site. They would love to see some comments from readers, so please consider writing a quick comment for them. Salamat!