Coco Beach is the name of the resort where we stayed and it has a small beach by the same name but each day they offer a “free boat” to one of the other many surrounding beaches where you can snorkel, look for shells, build sandcastles or simply do whatever you enjoy doing on a beach. You can also hire a small banca boat to go out and do further exploring. Since this is our third time to Coco Beach we have become friends with Christian, one of the locals guys who owns a banca, named Kian Gabriel after his first son, in which he always take us around. He is a really nice guy who always goes the extra mile to show us a good time and we always enjoy seeing him. Twice he took us out on his banca during this trip, around to the surrounding islands. We would get out at one of the beaches and while Coco played in the water, I would snorkel. Christian buys bread to help attract the fish for us to see and even Coco tried snorkeling for the first time. She was so excited to see the fish up close and kept exclaiming over and over again, “I love this!” Christian also picked up a large blue starfish for us to hold and observe up close. Coco loved it and we brought it home for a while (Christian said it would live about 8 hours out of the water) but later that night I found myself walking alone to the beach long after Coco had gone to bed to safely return it to its ocean home.
The fish I see when snorkeling never cease to amaze me with their brilliant yellows, oranges, reds and blues; they are simply stunning as they dart around the spiky corals. And being out in the sea with the gorgeous blue skies and the crystal blue water surrounding us for miles in all directions takes me to a place of complete and utter relaxation. I ignorantly tell Christian that I am envious of his job, being surrounded by all this natural beauty out on the water all day. From my stressed out perspective it seems ideal but obviously it’s a hard life dependent upon the generosity and abundance of tourists, yet I still can’t help to think that it beats my daily grind.
He replies stating he’d be happier working in a factory if it meant he could bring in more money to support his family.
I didn’t know how to respond to that. Yes, a strong desire to take care of family wasn’t lost on me, it’s what brought me to Manila in the first place; but in the past 15 months I have reflected and meditated a lot about this and I have learned that balance is critical for happiness– well, mine at least. I am taking care of family financially, yes, but at a great expense. I don’t see Coco as much as I’d like, I’m exhausted and I feel alone far too often.
What I have learned this past year is trading some of these hard-earned
dollars pesos for more time with family, friends and relaxing in beauty is not only worthwhile but absolutely essential. Of course that’s easy to say now that I am in a solid place financially and I should clarify that I’m not implying that the Filipinos who work here in Puerto Galera are relaxing; what I am saying is for me to remain in my positive cash flow situation to get further and further ahead is not a good choice for me. Why not? Because I want more days like this. (Ironically being able to be on Christian’s boat in the first place is only possible due to a sacrifice I made to take care of my family and the money subsequently paid to me by my pressure cooker job. It’s also interesting to note that it took an 8,000 mile move for me to see clearly what and how I want to live my life, yet leaving my high-paying job may mean I can no longer afford to be in places like this… Not sure what to make of all that..)
(In many pictures you will see us covered up. The sun is extremely strong and hot and after my recent skin damage I am not so quick to expose myself or Coco to its unrelenting rays all day long. Trust me, extra melanin alone is not enough protection!)