Last Updated on June 8, 2023 by Ellen
Remember the good old days of travel? We do. When Americans could get into any country. When the world seemed open and accepting and welcoming.
Those good old days of travel feel really far off.
August 10 is my five year travel anniversary. It’s the day I left Cleveland, Ohio, for Tulum, Mexico, without my husband. Tedly later joined me in December. We left in early January. I’d lived there five months. We never stayed in one place as long as that again.
Later this week, we hit the six-month mark for our stay in Malay Municipality in Aklan Province on Panay Island in the Philippines.
Mom Diane came to stay with us for winter travel in the Philippines on December 11, 2019. She’s now been with us for eight months.
Like everyone else on the planet, our lives are turned upside down. We miss travel. So we decided to take a short, days-long vacation.
Destination: the good old days of travel
Boracay Island is part of Malay Municipality. As temporary residents of the town, we are allowed to visit. It is a 10-minute ferry ride from the port town of Caticlan.
But our destination wasn’t so much Boracay, as it was to recapture some of the lost feeling of travel and adventure and exploration of new places. We miss the old days of travel life.
We checked out new beaches. We went to restaurants and coffee shops.
I met expat friends for spirituality pep talks. We had dinner with friends.
We strolled along the water in the rain. We had silly photo shoots.
We shopped at chain supermarkets, and also at roadside stands and mom-and-pop shops.
We got to know a little bit about our Airbnb host.
We explored shortcuts that took us to the beach without wading through habagat lakes at bottoms of hills (it’s rainy season here).
We relaxed. We talked about some of the stuff we needed to talk about. We discovered we still enjoy each other’s company.
We decided to take another break like this again in the future.
Most of Boracay Island was developed for tourists. And now it’s a ghost town. It was all around us. We never totally escaped from reality. There are no more good old days of travel like years past. At least, not for now.
We are in the middle of the world shifting, changing, of our formerly world-leading homeland collapsing under its own greed and prejudice.
Coming back ‘home’ actually felt … good. The mainland is vastly different from Boracay, mainly because there are fewer people on the mainland. There is more empty space – but these spaces were always empty. Rice fields, jungle hills and mountains.
I actually came ‘home’ during our five-night vacation because I made a commitment to children for Friday games, activity, and food. Plus, it was one little girl’s birthday, and I wanted to bring a giant chocolate cake with unicorns and flowers and rainbows, and so I did. We are only seven once. Life is Now.
We’ve been here in barangay Motag long enough to see babies born, to see kids get taller, older. Long enough to form friendships.
I’ve seen the rice fields turn from barren brown to lush green.
We’ve been here long enough to rebuild and stock a henhouse for the Ati tribe with all supplies carried up a mountain, one piece of wood, one cinder block, at time.
Seasonal time here is marked by changed currents in the sea. We’ve used the alternative port in Caticlan designated for this time of year – a time with traditionally fewer tourists.
Tourism – as Boracay and the world knew it – will not come back anytime soon. I’m a realist.
Our next travel plan will be for a short getaway from ‘home’. Another vacation from our pandemic bunker, so to speak.
I have no idea how long we will stay in Malay. We did extend our visas for two more months at the office on Boracay during our vacation. That takes us to early October. Mom Diane also extended her visa.
Tedly and I were supposed to go to Penang, Malaysia, in October, but there is no word yet on the plan for allowing American tourists into that country. Right now, not even American medical tourists are allowed in.
Also, we like that this area of the Philippines is semi-rural. We enjoy the open feeling. It almost feels like freedom.
Thanks for reading, “The good old days of travel life recaptured, briefly.”
Travel adventures before pandemic lockdowns:
- Last tourists to leave Gigantes Islands
- Playa Balandra: A magical Mexican beach
- Why Mazatlan is great for expats
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