Happy Friday readers, it’s been a busy week so this is a short post – the third addition to the Little Drops of Happiness series:
- Integration takes time. Even in my small town of a few thousand, I see people every day that are new to me and for whom I am a new face for, as well. But then there are the people I see regularly that are becoming more familiar and friendly, with whom I can banter a little bit more and more each time, practicing my ever-rough Visayan. I love my outdoor market and the plethora of fresh, affordable local produce available. I go to a couple of regular stalls and stock up on my weekly staples: garlic, onions, eggplant, Calabaza, and tomatoes. One of my favorite stalls is a lovely couple with their young daughter, tucked away in the corner of the weekday market. I learned the couple’s names, Alex and Em, sometime ago, but have yet to learn the daughter’s. On my recent visits, the young daughter waved to me from the market entrance and I overheard her tell her friends in local language, akong amiga – my friend. We may not be on a first name basis, but my heart swelled nonetheless.
- In regards to integration, I recently made my first true Filipina friends. I have met so many lovely people in the Philippines over the past nine months; heck, I’ve joined two wonderful families, a social office, and encountered, incredibly friendly and welcoming people all over. But friends—actual friends—that you have inside jokes with and send goofy texts to, or get riled up over the same things… well, with cultural, religious, spiritual, and linguistic barriers, that just took a little longer to find. But through a love of the ocean and the desire to protect it, I met three wonderful ladies that I’m proud and slightly girlishly gushing over calling my friends. The first weekend we hung out, we cleaned a beach, watched the stars, went chasing waterfalls and devouring delicious vegetarian food. On a quiet drive back to from visiting a waterfall, we were watching the colors of the sky change with the setting sun. We weren’t talking much, wiped out from a day of adventuring, but when the road turned and we saw the glistening orange sun on the horizon we all oohed and awed in unison. Without speaking it was decided we would pull over at the next clearing and we jumped out of the car and ran to the lookout to catch the last rays of light slide behind a silhouette of the neighboring island. The site was magnificent, we were speechless, breathless, and only once the light started to fade did I tear my eyes off the view and look at my new friends with a smile. They smiled back, there were no words – that’s all that was needed of the moment – just like any of my friends would, anywhere else in the world.
3. Do you ever get the feeling that you could be anywhere else in the world? While sitting in the front seat of a van at a rest stop out of town, I pulled out of my bag a piece of halva; a delicious sesame snack from Israel, sent to me in a recent care pacakge by my dad and his wife. I was waiting for the driver to hustle some more people onto the van; the warm sun on my legs battling with the coolness of the AC. As I bit into my halva and enjoyed the sensation of it melting slowly in my mouth, a trike pulls up in front of me and a man gets out wearing a shirt written in Hebrew. For a second I was there, in Israel… the heat of the sun, the chill of the AC, the delicious creamy halva melting in my mouth, the feel of the worn cloth seats of the van; I could have been in the car with my dad, on one of our little road trips around the country. I had frozen mid-bite, in awe. And then I was back, in the Philippines, in this bizarre and wonderful moment that made me so grateful for my family (and their care packages) and for being exactly where I was supposed to be in that moment.
Well that’s it for now! If you missed the first two installments you can read Little Drops of Happiness No. 1 and No. 2, just click the links in the sentence. Have a wonderful Friday and a lovely spring weekend, where ever you are in the world!
As always, thanks for reading,