The tears might finally be gone. Run out? Gone dry? I guess a new reality has set in.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. To feel. To hurt. To care.
How could an early retired life of footloose international travel include such severe emotional angst?
Yet, as I sit and write here in Bangkok, Thailand – my mind replays the last two weeks, the last two years – and I am again on the verge of tears.
When I quit work and left America in 2015 there were no tears. The freedom of an early retirement dream come true brought only smiles and squeals of delight.
Now six travel years and one pandemic later, this: an emotional hangover. More accurately, Philippine withdrawal.
Somehow leaving the Philippines three days ago was one of the most gut wrenching moments of my life.
Our ‘despedida’ (goodbye party) of 50-60 people was fun and comforting. But the individual goodbyes were extremely difficult.
Members of the indigenous Ati tribe even came to our apartment in the pouring rain to sing us off. That event ended with us all sobbing.
Presently, as I stare at the nighttime Bangkok skyline, the Philippine memories flood back. Then the friendly faces flash in my mind. And the tears well up again.
Without a doubt, it is those faces; the friends and families and children we came to know and love during our two-year COVID stay near beautiful Boracay Island, Philippines that have left me such a wreck.
There is a saying: “You won’t change the Philippines, but the Philippines will change you.”
Not true, I would argue. Both can happen. Myself and my wife are proof of that.
This blog detailed just some of the changes, the differences, we made in Filipino lives over the past two years.
- Two-year slow travel pause ends for Earth Vagabonds
- How Earth Vagabonds ended up in Malay, Aklan, Philippines
- (Almost) everything Earth Vagabonds did for the indigenous Ati tribe
Now I’m apparently feeling the change in me.
To be sure, we poured our whole selves into helping Filipinos throughout the two years of the pandemic.
We were joined in our efforts by numerous overseas donors who contributed and multiplied our resources. Endless thanks to all those generous folks.
Never have I felt so needed and vital and involved in individual lives. Seeing the difference we made on a daily basis was intoxicating. Is there such a thing as being addicted to helping?
In the end, it led to some of the most intense friendships of my life. And now, as COVID hardships lessen, pulling away from those friendships is painful.
Still, the time feels right to return to ‘our own lives’. We’re blessed vagabonds. Two sedentary years is too much. The world – messed up as it is – awaits.
And thank God for Bangkok. The unending action and energy of this place provides a distraction, a kind of cushioning to the raw emotion of the past weeks.
Of course, I can and will continue with the Philippine friendships. Facebook and email and phone calls will facilitate ongoing interactions.
Eventually, we will return. We have to. The Philippines will always be like a second home to me. We’ve already talked about coming back after a few years of other travel… maybe other tears.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer. Life is NOW!
Thanks for reading, “So many tears.”
Earth Vagabonds are safe travel advocates.