1. Truth: The Philippines are beautiful, just stunning. The islands look like mountains on the horizon, the sunsets are slow to deepen to beautiful pinks & oranges. The water is warm and transparent - layers of green & turquoise revealing fish & coral, giant turtles & starfish. I could not have anticipated how much I was going to love the starfish, they feel like gummy candy.
2. Truth: Your money goes far here. Our first few days in Port Barton we joked that everything was 2 dollars. Another margarita? 2 dollars. Upgrade your room? 2 dollars. 3 hour shuttle van from airport to the beach? 2 dollars... although you knew why once you were on it.
3. Truth: The beauty on the water is in great disparity to the tourist mainland. The villages in between tourist towns are pretty, and the schools are beautifully kept, children in sweet uniforms. But it's shocking as you drive into El Nido town, the "jewel" of the islands. Muddy roads, what I can only best describe as shanty towns, loads of "salesmen" beckoning you into their restaurant, their tour, their shop. Then you get out on a boat & the town disappears. I'd love to call it amazing, but in truth, it feels kind of sad.
4. Truth: Most furniture is made of Philippine mahogany. Who cares, you might wonder? Your bottom cares. After 5 days of sitting on mahogany boat benches & restaurant chairs, you want to lay down on a couch. But the "couches" are made of mahogany. This is not a comfortable country. We moved out of El Nido town yesterday, opting for a private island resort 35 minutes offshore. They have beach loungers & chairs with cushions & we almost cried. Such creature comforts, who knew?
5. Truth: It is hot hot hot. 85 degrees here feels like 100 & the humidity is only escaped on or in the water. Yes, I'm getting a tan. But my Buffalo body is covered in tiny bumps that the Filipino pharmacist called prickly heat. I'm even tempted to drink water. Ha. Did I mention it's stunningly beautiful??? We keep reminding each other of that :) Truly first world problems.
6. Truth: The Filipino people are kind & generous, sweet & welcoming. Their English is impressive. Our island hopping guide in Port Barton, 29 year old Puti, works all day everyday to earn the equivalent of $400 USD per month. Half of this he sends home to his parents to support them & put his two sisters through school. He does all of this with the most genuine & proud smile on his face & joy in his eyes. He really touched both of our hearts.
7. Truth: I have not worked out once & coming back to the barre in a week will be a shock. But this rest is feeling wonderful. All things possible in moderation.