Boracay Island, The Philippines
Dear Friends and family,
Greetings from magnificent Boracay Island in the Philippines. Since the last edition of this newsletter, I have spent very little time behind a computer. When I do actually find time and an internet cafe that works, I’m usually booking my next plane ticket, handling my finances and business matters, or trying to figure out how to get around. I received almost fifty emails from you in response to my last Lexpedition, and I was able to answer a bunch of them. So if I still “owe you” an email, please forgive me. I don’t like to send a short email response to a nice, thoughtful email from you, so I put it off until I can. Hang in there, please.
Some Cool Photos (Click any of them to see the larger, more awesome versions. Go on… I dare you.)
With my friends at the Five Below Ice Bar in Queenstown (South Island, New Zealand.) Sure, it was a gimmicky bar, but we had a lot of fun. Everything in the bar was made out of ice, including the ice couch we were sitting on and the glasses we were drinking out of. Even the ice cubes in our drinks were made of ice. Wow! I’m with Dominique and Geert (AKA Frederick) from Belgium and Rosie from the Netherlands, some of the great people I met on the Stray Bus.
Here I am with my tongue stuck to one of the ice sculptures in the bar. The sculpture kind of looked like President Bush, but it was way too warm to be him. No, I did not turn gay on my trip. No, I’m not even remotely curious. Thanks for asking, though.
Here is a bizarre photo. My friends Rich (from Bristol in the UK on the left) and Mark (from the Netherlands on the right) and I were at a sheep shearing contest in the small town of Tua Tapere (on the South Island of New Zealand.) Yes, a sheep shearing contest. Everybody (except the three of us and most of the sheep) at the contest was drunk, including this person. I might see Rich again in the Himalayas in a few months. He’s a cool cat.
These next three photos were from a VERY long bus journey across the long island of Flores in Indonesia. I was taking a six hour bus from Moni to Bajawa, and it was jam packed. I had to sit in the last row with six other people. A nice woman sat next to me with her baby on her lap. The mother kept falling asleep and resting her head on my shoulder. The baby got nauseous from the bumpy ride, which made things even more interesting. A few of the passengers had live rosters with them, which would occasionally make funny noises.
Then it got really weird… we stopped to pick up an elderly lady. And her large pig. Yes, a pig. The pig was tied around its feet and secured to a large bamboo pole. The two bus attendants helped to hoist the massive pig to the top of the bus, where it rode for the next three hours in the hot sun, rolling around as the bus took the turns too aggressively. I thought it was going to fall off the bus. But wait, it gets better. After an hour listening to the pig moan and groan, we stopped to pick up a lady and her goat. Again, the two bus attendants hoisted the goat to the top of the bus (by pulling it up by the rope around its neck.) They then tied the goat to the roof rack and we continued our journey. Now, each time the bus took a sharp turn, I could hear the goat scrambling to keep its balance, and many times it stepped on the pig, which kept wailing and screaming and honking. It was truly surreal trip. I felt sooooo bad for the pig and the goat and the roosters, but what can I do? That’s just the way they do things around here.
The first photo is my view looking to my left of the villagers I was sharing the back row with.
This photo shows the view toward the front.
Here you can see the pig being lowered down as we approached Bajawa. You can see the goat still scrambling around on top. Bizarro.
In New Zealand I was fortunate enough to go bungy jumping and to take my first helicopter ride. Here I am jumping out of a plane at 15,000 feet near Queenstown. It was a fantastic view of the lakes and snow-capped mountains surrounding the city.
Here I am standing in a beautiful field of wild lupine flowers near the Milford Sound on the South Island of New Zealand. Sure, I jump out of planes and bungy jump from seventy-five stories up. But I also know how to stop and enjoy the flowers. I laugh, I cry, I dance, I sew all my own clothes.
I spent ten days on the unbelievably beautiful Togian Islands of Sulawesi in Indonesia, where I completed my advanced scuba diving training. We usually rode in a speedboat for twenty to thirty minutes to get to the dive sites. Here’s a photo of the calm seas and magnificent skies while heading out for a dive. That’s my funny friend Jaarko (from Finland) and the boat guide in front. This is one of my favorite photos so far on my trip.
A view of the boat’s outrigger gliding across the calm waters. It was such a treat to come up from an amazing 45-minute scuba dive to just float in the early morning clouds and gentle seas while we waited for the boat to collect us.
This was my view from my hammock on the front porch of my bungalow at the Black Marlin Dive Resort on Kadidiri Island. I love the reflection of the coconut trees in the clear, calm waters.
OK, I better run. I will probably float around the Philippines for three more weeks, then maybe to Micronesia and Malaysia for world-class scuba diving. Then back to Bangkok on my way back to the Himalayas. That’s my current plan, and it’s subject to change.
If you can’t tell from my photos, I’m having a blast on this trip. I hope you are having a blast wherever you are and living your lives to the fullest. I have included another of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver below for your enjoyment. Please keep the emails coming, and I will try to answer them all when I can.
Peace & Love,
One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice– though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. “Mend my life!” each voice cried. But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do– determined to save the only life you could save.
by Mary Oliver