Press play first.
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
– Leonardo Da Vinci
Somewhere in your journey, you will find places. Places special enough that will make you want to stay for a while. Places that will make you dream of having a piece of it to your own one day. Places that you’ll want to keep forever. These places are rare. Because our wandering feet can’t stay still so when we find something like this, something that begs us to stay, it makes our hearts quiver and grow roots.
Here, in this lush green island. I found my place. There’s just something about it, something about its energy. Something that makes my insides feel like there’s no gravity. An impetus so strong it continues to tug at your heart strings even when you leave.
Time was a haze. I got lost in it here. It seemed like it was just a blink and eternity at the same time.
Singing along to music in a van brimmed with good company. Taking boats through the mangroves and hidden islands until we get to a house in the middle of the lagoon. My sweet and vibrant friend Bri leads us through a beautiful yoga practice and as we breathe and move I am in disbelief that we are here and that this is real. Light rays peeks through the holes of the roof, reflecting the shimmering dust as we move our bodies and let bliss seep into our flesh. Then after, we jump into the blue. Swimming and paddle boarding through crystal waters, thirsty for exploration. Eating fresh fish and sweet mangoes with our bare hands like animals as our feet dangle over the clear turquoise waters. Sunbathing with Freia on the deck as we sing and laugh and every ten seconds we exclaim at how beautiful everything is and how much we god damn love this island. On our boat ride back we all watch the sunset in silence. Passing rum and looking at each other and smiling because we all know we’re in it. Completely in it. At night we eat and karaoke, singing badly as our voices echo through the starry night sky. When morning came I laid on my hammock listening to the rain, letting everything seep into my veins and fuel every cell of me. This island is drowning me beautifully. And I let it.
“Maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed. Maybe they just need to run free until they find someone just as wild to run with them.”
Watch the world with stars in your eyes. Let it permeate through all your senses until it shoots up your spine and raises the hair on your skin and drown you until you forget you have a body. Until you come back to the innate knowing that you are one with all that is seen and unseen.
Keep taking leaps of faith, even if you have to try a few times. Jump until you are free.
One day we took our motorbikes out to explore around the island. We stopped on the side of the road and walked through a little jungle that led to a gorgeous empty beach. Got caught in the rain and we smile and laugh and stretch our arms out feeling every bit of rain drop shattering on our flesh as we look up and watch it fall through the coconut trees. We lose Nick and Bea so Freia drives and drives and drives until the rain is gone and we feel the warmth of the sunshine on our skin. We ride through small towns and see locals jumping up and down, smiling and waving at us as we laugh and wave back at them. Everyone is always smiling. Happy light always beaming from their beautiful faces. We let ourselves get lost. We ride until we get to the rock pools. Jumping into the clear blue as we float around the rocks and forget that we have bodies. Beautiful, freckled-face Freia always does this as a joke between us but to also remind ourselves how beautiful everyone always is so she asks me again, “I’m happy! Are you happy?”
And I say, grinning from ear to ear, “I’m happy Freia. I’m really damn happy.”
A two hour boat ride with good company. Sunbathing and napping in between. We get to the lagoons and stop at a cave to dive under to get to an enchanting illuminated cave. Explored another one and followed the light out. The only way back to our boat was to jump off a platform, so we jump. Freedom is always on the other side of fear. Another reminder for me to keep following my fears.
“I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.”
– John F. Kennedy
One day when we got intoxicated by Sanne’s drinking games of rum and coconuts we dipped in the ocean and became mermaids.
Our little trip to the Secret Sunset Spot.
Hostel dinners with good company.
I was supposed to leave a week earlier. I didn’t want to. I tried extending my flight but it didn’t seem to work out. So I let it go. The night before I had to leave I got an email saying my flight was cancelled. I was ecstatic so I extended for another week. The island didn’t want me to leave just yet. And there are reasons for that, as there are reasons for everything.
On my last couple of days I went back to Caub Island with the Paglaom family, back to the Sugba Lagoons. And was still as enchanting as the first time I went. It will never lose its magic.
Don’t you dare come here.
You will fall in love with this island, meet lovely souls, get lost in time, drown in its beauty and get stuck here for a while. When time catches up and your plane is calling for you to leave, you won’t want to. And when you finally do, you’ll miss it when you’re gone.
The rain poured when I left. The boys are talking about random things and I just disconnected from reality. I keep quiet as I process my emotions. I’m leaving, I thought. It’s even harder the second time I try to. But I knew it was time to go. I hear the honk. My ride is here. I grab my stuff and walk towards the doorway. I hug the boys and say my goodbyes, see-you-laters, and last exchange of inside jokes. I see Sanne and Cocoy waiting for me at the door, two beautiful beings of light with their arms wrapped around each other. I glanced at the words I painted right on the doorway just a couple weeks ago. “You’re gonna miss this when you’re gone.” Me reminding myself of how much I love this place, a place that became home.
I give them one last hug. I say goodbye but Sanne tells me there’s no such thing. I get in the van and peer through the window as the rain trickles down. Sanne is still waving, I wave back. I look back one last time at the little place I called my home for the past five weeks. Then it hit me. My eyes start swelling with tears. Chills start shooting up my spine as we zoom pass through coconut fields. And we all know I’m a sucker for nostalgia, sentiments, feeling and embracing all the spectrums of being a human being. I love feeling the deepest crevasses of emotions, I live for it. I get high from it. Even the sadness turns into bliss that way. I hop on the plane and I peer out the window. We take flight. I look down at the coconut fields, at the island that stole my heart and has no plans of giving it back. My eyes continue to swell and as the island slowly disappears from my sight. I close my eyes and lose myself to the music. Then the sadness turns into bliss. Sadness turns into gratitude.
To my majestic little island home, I miss you so much already. Thank you for your infinite beauty. For the Paglaom family, the wolfpack and all the beautiful souls I crossed paths with. For endless supply of coconuts, the best buko shake in the world at Aventino’s and the best coconut bread made by our neighbor 6 days a week at 1pm. For hammocks and embracing the nothingness. For lush green coconut fields, white sand beaches and azure waters. For sunsets at Cloud 9, watching in awe as silhouettes ride glassy barrels. For the wipeouts and smash sessions and teaching me not to be so hard on myself when I’m learning. Because we all are, and that’s okay. For my motorbike scars, reef cuts, and bruises because flaws make us. Despite the pain I know it’s all worth it and every time I feel it, it reminds me of you. For the motorbike trips with good company all over the island, bright eyed, wild haired, and the endless grins you bring to my face. For giving me the courage to finally drive a scooter around. For jumping off things and reminding me again that it really aren’t as scary as it seems. For giving me closure on something that just needed to be sealed. For card games, crosswords, laugh trips, music trips, intoxicating nights and volleyball with the boys. For Sanne and Cocoy and all the amazing people at Paglaom who made me feel at home and made my time there epic. For sunset runs, sunset and night swims. For cheap triple rum at Kermit’s and Jungle Juice at Jungle Disco, despite the hangovers. For delicious food hangover remedies at Jing and Jasmine’s Place. For kind hearts and beautiful smiling faces. For island hopping and your magical lagoons. For star gazing on sparkly night skies and the hazy Milky Way. For shooting stars and the magic of the cosmos. For bringing me to the realization that you are my island home, and that no matter where I am in the world I will keep coming back as I dream of having a tiny piece of you to live in and build a community one day. For blissful yoga and meditation sessions. And all the moments where I felt infinite. I say goodbye for now. But know that no matter where I go, no matter where the tides pull, it will keep leading me back to you.
The road knows this. It knows that you will see things you’ll want to keep forever. But even if you want to stay, even if you love every place so much it aches, no matter who or what keeps pulling you back, the road will keep calling you. And you must go.
Infinite thanks to my friends at Cebu Pacific Air for sponsoring this trip and making it happen — http://www.cebupacificair.com
Extra special thanks to Sanne and Cocoy, the owners of Paglaom Hostel (check them out at http://www.facebook.com/paglaomhostel), for welcoming me into the family, arranging epic trips, and making me feel at home. My stay there was not sponsored, I’m simply writing this because they are the most wonderful hostel owners that I’ve met who genuinely care about their guests and treat them like family. I’m so grateful for them. If you find yourself in Siargao and are looking for a budget accommodation, stay here. You’ll get stuck for a while, in the best way possible.