I am writing this from the domestic airport’s floor. I came 5 hours early for my morning flight and thought to spend time here to work. Supposedly, there’s free wi-fi, care of Globe, and a regular-priced Seattle’s Best. Well, the coffee shop’s closed and they might as well call their wi-fi “no-fi.” I am using my Smart 3G stick and it’s better than what I presume to be Globe’s DSL.
Anyway… I am feeling my usual anxiousness. I’ve been traveling alone for at least 5 years now but I still get this way at the start of a trip. After all, no matter how hardy I seem to be, I am still a girl. There are inherent risks in traveling alone as a woman; as there are inherent risks in being a woman, period.
What keeps me brave are my experiences of kindness on the road. I have been lucky.
One of the stories I tell happened where I’m headed now. I was in Malapascua for my birthday solo trip a few years ago. I had a great time. I saw my first thresher shark. I had a dive where I encountered 6 black tip sharks, 2 of which were just 5 feet away. I celebrated a birthday evening drinking with hot French-speaking guys and girls — their French-speaking upped their hotness, IMHO.
But the most vivid memory from that trip was what happened on the way back. It was a slow morning. I was a bit hungover from the previous night. And when I’m hungover, I prefer not to eat. I just had a light breakfast and then hopped on a boat for the town of Maya. From Maya, it was going to be a 4 hour bus ride to Cebu City.
I was on the bus at around lunchtime. The woman-conductor sat me down next to a local woman who was at least a decade older than me. And early on, she’d been kind to me. She translated when the conductor spoke to me in bisaya. There was a stopover, and she paid for my C.R. fee. The clincher was when we passed through a market. I was feeling a bit hungry by then but was still decided on just getting a bite once in the city.
My hunger must have showed. The woman bought two green Indian mangoes, and she insisted that I take one. I thought it rude to refuse. But I also thought it to be an immense show of kindness. I had done nothing to deserve it — except perhaps be a visitor in her town. Still…
Right there, I promised myself not to forget and to try to do the same.
And it is these small things that keep me believing in humanity, despite all the scumbags and jerks we hear about and encounter.
In making arrangements for this trip, I experienced the same “above and beyond” from people I had just met (and online, at that). There’s Medel, a diver and proponent of the Thresher Shark Project, who pointed me to all the right people and the research info I needed. And there’s David of Evolution Diving who gave me diving discounts and a room at a third of the resort’s rate.
I keep this in mind when I think of the recent Malapascua story in the news: http://www.rappler.com/nation/56114-british-man-murder-malapascua
I am anxious.. but I am thankful and I trust that all will be OK.