I first met him in an island where our my siblings and I had lunch, a young boy who was about 12 years old. He gave me directions to a small store, the only one in the island, and I remembered that his hair was almost blond, naturally lightened by the tropical sun.
A few hours later, I saw him again in another island, raking some fallen leaves near the shore. Visitors were only allowed to stay there until 4:30, and when it was time for us to leave, our guide waved and shouted goodbye to him from our boat.
It turned out that the boy's job was to make sure that visitors come and leave the islands on time, like a gatekeeper of sorts. My last glimpse of him, waving and smiling from his yellow boat, with the blue sky in the background, is an image that stayed with me for awhile now.
I wonder what his life is like, living in the islands, and taking care of those pristine beaches. I wonder if he goes to school, if he knows how to read or write, what his family is like, if he swam and raced with his friends. I wonder if he also wonders about people living in faraway places, and the world beyond.
Photo taken at Malcapuya Island, using a Fuji Instax Wide camera
Early morning, we ate breakfast on a veranda overlooking the pier, and watched the small island town come to life. Our breakfast was always the same - fish and rice, eggs, fruits, coffee for me and my brother, hot chocolate for my sisters.
We talked about the islands we planned to visit, and made sure we had everything we needed for the full day ahead, things like snorkeling masks, a bottle of water, and sunscreen.
Then we were off to the sea, with backpacks over our shoulders.
Have a listen: The Boat Behind
"There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings..."
-Robert Haas, Meditation at Lagunitas
It has been while, I know. I have stories that need to be told, though it's really hard for me to sit down and write these days.
I came back from my trip to the Philippines exactly a month ago, and some part of me is still wishing I were there, waking at six in the morning to swim, or catch the first light of the day, while floating on turquoise seas.
Soon, I hope, I will settle into a routine, and create a space for myself around here. My new place is up on a hill and has a lovely view of the city. On clear nights, I can count the stars from our back porch, and remember to dream again.
And to those of you who still read my blog, thank you. Much love to you.
All photos taken by me, from the islands of Northern Palawan, Philippines.