As the pokemon madness sweeps through the western world my life in a small island quietly proceeds. This is exactly when I’m starting to appreciate being away from the noise, which I decided to switch for a new, slower lifestyle. Call me a quitter or an escapist, but I haven’t found a more efficient way of dealing with the “run or die” kind of feeling I was experiencing. I always approached life along the lines of letting go. If I wasn’t satisfied with something and already tried the best I could to change the status quo but it wouldn’t work, I wouldn’t shy away from considering quitting as an option. I’m not ashamed of letting go at all and I don’t think anyone should be. In the end, how could we grow if we were always in the same settings, surrounded by the same people, doing the same things?
Endings are at least as important as beginnings.
In this post, I’m going to share something about the three activites that took up most of my time in my first month of living here – making friends, looking for a workspace/place to focus and surfing. All of them both benefitted and hurt me a little. In other words, I began feeling the pain and gain of changing a lifestyle on my own skin.
Some context to begin with…
I find it exceptionally challenging to describe the arrangement I found myself in. Imagine a micro world with its own particular language where, however, even an old coconut oil producer lady speaks perfect English. The natives are beyond friendly and welcoming. It regularly throws me off my balance when someone touches me, hugs me, or gives me a peck on a cheek because of my habit to keep distance. To my surprise, I find it all very pleasant and strangely fulfilling. People invite me to their homes without wanting anything back, they engage in a conversation, give me their time and never-ever-ever-everrrr they have their phones around when we’re talking. So much for the renowned culture of individualism we drove ourselves into, where we’re used to putting even meetings with our friends into our calendars. Telling others how much time you have for them is a norm. We play games like ‘who touches their phone first pays the bill’ at dinner tables. Until recently I was one of these people and I still am a little and it makes me sick.
At the same time, there’s a lot of tourists here who you meet scattered around the island or concentrated in beach resorts. I spend quite a bit of my time in resorts reading, writing, or sometimes dining when I don’t feel adventurous and don’t want to risk the combo of my cooking and the unknown local food. This is how I observe and meet people and so far I’ve been surprised by what I’ve experienced. What kind of people would you expect to turn up in a holiday resort? The partygoers, the luxury seekers, the beachbums? Not here. One of the reasons why I decided to come back to this place is because the quality of people I was lucky to meet here astonished me. Majority of the came here for the aesthetics of the simplicity this place has to offer, they’re friendly and grateful rather than ignorant and reckless, they’re smart and open minded. Somewhere in between this strange composure I managed to make some friends in my first month and that’s the first and most important thing I want to mention and appreciate.
People are everything
Life will always give you what you’re looking for. That’s why we should be very deliberate and specific in our thoughts to attract our desires.
The settling in my new place was an absolute success only thanks to the people who came into my life. They brought me an incredible amount of joy and comfort. My friend Dominika offered me to stay in her house so I didn’t have to stress about looking for a place before even coming here. My local friend Doy Doy rented me his motorbike, Bren lent me one of his surfboards before I bought my first secondhand board from Becky, who works in one of the resorts. Loloy showed me around and supplied me with daily portions of Philippino Justin Bieber jokes (if you’re asking “What do you mean”? – that’s exactly it). I’ve been making friends with locals literally every day simply by engaging in conversations anywhere and everywhere. Every time I need information or get lost I turn to people. They usually drop everything they’re doing and try their best to help.
Some of the most intense moments I had in my first months were spent with a bunch of amazing people Mia, Lauren and Jay who all got here from different walks of life only to be united by surfing and sangria evenings. I’m most grateful for the kindness of strangers and the law of attraction – these things are real! The only downside of my new friendships is that everyone is now gone back and I’m left here looking at the pool where we used to have so much fun together. But I would never change those moments we had together. Here are some of those moments captured in pixels.
Turning new lifestyle into reality
The main reason for coming here was to screw the prescribed system and create my own path. This sounds awesome but it’s also harder than you might think.
Knowing that you can do virtually anything and having to design it by yourself is much trickier than fitting into an already existing framework.
The major challenges I faced so far were finding a place to work. The internet here is pretty bad and the spaces here are aimed at tourists’ needs rather than at travelling professionals needing to work. I bought my own pocket wifi and at the moment I’m testing its coverage, connectivity and speed. I go around different places around the island including the boardwalk pictured below. I’m mainly looking for spaces with fans, pool, healthy food, comfy seating, inspiring views, etc. Basically, a tropical hipster cafe of some sorts. Ha! I can’t work in the house, even though it’s got aircon because the same four walls hinder my creativity. My most favourite parts of my worklife here so far are letting my mind wonder while staring at the ocean or having fun on the swings and in the pool during work breaks. I may have no table football here, but there are other perks for sure.
You can’t buy happiness but you can buy a surfboard and that’s pretty close
Surfing is how I discovered Siargao in the first place back in November last year. It has instantly become a part of my life. Apparently, once you get into it there’s no way out. I’m happily in then! The ability to surf whenever I want is still incomprehensible to me. It’s been really rad so far and I’ve been stoked every time I paddled out to put it all into surf speak. I’m in love with the sunrise and the sunset sessions in particular. So far, I’ve been silently enjoying them but I promise to take the GoPro out for a stroll and share the beauty with you. In the past week I got a bit down because I managed to break two fins on the reef and I had to invest in a new set again. It wasn’t all rosy and peachy beginning for sure. Also, I’m currently having two days-off surfing because my feet are pretty damaged from the reef. Wounds heal very badly here due to the humidity, the dirt getting into them when walking without shoes. With every dip in the ocean they reopen and deepen too. I have equipped myself with disinfection products and wound healing gels and powders but I know that those marks from kissing the reef will become scars that I will keep for the rest of my life. My mum keeps asking me why I’m still doing it all despite the injuries. The answer is – because I could hardly experience such living in the moment sensation anywhere else.
Every surf session opens my eyes a little bit more after they’ve been shut for too long. Every time I paddle out I know that I’ll learn something new. Every time I wipe out I’m grateful to be alive.
Thank you for reading. I’m sending lots of love to all of you and keep sharing your stories with me – I love reading them!