Saturday, June 8, 2013
We cannot believe a year has passed. Each day has begun with a prayer.....not generally FROM us, but FOR us and other passengers in the myriad of transports we use. Whether the drivers are male or female, Buddhist, Muslim, Catholic or Hindu, they pray for a safe journey for themselves as well as for all of their passengers. And Allah, Buddha, Jesus and Mary must be listening! We have traveled by banga, jeepney, tricycle, ferry, raft, tube, kayak, canoe, bus, motorbike, and the more conventional planes and autos. Travel is one of our greatest risks. The Association for Safe International Travel calculates that we are more than 50 times likely to die of a motor vehicle accident abroad than in the United States. Walking is not so safe either. Almost a fifth of all global auto related deaths are pedestrians. We appreciate all of those prayers and have flung a few skyward ourselves as we teeter on the precipices of roads or wonder why our driver likes to play chicken with large buses and trucks.
The memories from the year are rich beyond our greatest hopes or aspirations. We have never felt more intensely alive and filled with daily wonder. Traveling for us has been like a child's first trip to Disneyland. The characters are bigger than on the little screen and the adventure more divine. Like Disneyland, there is a wait for the ride, but once it starts, the rules of everyday life are suspended and wonders beyond belief appear at the next turn.
People often ask us what our favorite place has been. The question is complicated as it is often the people who make the place. Mate would never have tasted so good unless we were downing a gourdful with Lisbeth, an old acquaintance and new friend. The spicy, pungent taste of fiery Balinese sauce would have been flatter and less delicious without the company of Wayan and his family; the quiet glory of the dawn kayak less splendid without Irene's face glowing calmly in the early sunrise.
Places speak to our hearts as well, whether we are alone or surrounded by others. Who can forget the feelings inspired at the first sighting of Machu Pichu? The tears of emotion were enough to make us realize the place had touched us deeply. The sheer "hugeness" of the Perito Moreno Glacier, even after having seen magnificent and breath taking glaciers in Canada and Alaska, has stayed with us throughout our travels. The fact that the glacier is so accessible, talks to the visitors, and frequently calves football field sized chunks of ice all contribute to its special place in our memories. As a vast, primitive, alpine arctic landscape that makes one feel remote and alone with nature, nothing can top the Dempster Highway in the Canadian Northern Territories. It teems with wildlife, though viewing any of the creatures is a combination of weather, season, and luck. The opportunity to swim with creatures as large as three or four trucks lined up end to end has been a highlight of our Philippines travel. Images of snorkeling with these whale sharks, often referred to as the "gentle giants," will be etched in our memories for the rest of our lives. Whether large as an elephant's, tiny as a baby gecko's, or glowing golden like those of the platypus, it is the eyes of animals that captivate us. And of course, it is Tamar's eyes, our hitchhiker, that we remember best.
As we extend our visa for a longer stay in the Philippines, we look to the west. Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam are nearby and the call of Everest strengthens each day. Summer is hot in Southeast Asia. We will seek the cool nooks and crannies full of new experiences, unmet friends, and opportunities to learn and grow.
Posted in Moalboal, Philippines. Images are of our tricycle driver who blessed our trip in Dugamente, our friend Irene Grave, and the two of us moments before we jumped in with whale sharks in the Philippines.