We left our home in Hawaii and embarked on a journey with unknown end or destination, just stops along the way. On Valentine's day we hopped on an early morning flight to Honolulu, then Tokyo, and final destination, Manila. My sister, Martina, was about to get married in the Philippines, where her husband-to-be is from. That was the reason we left Hawaii, knowing we couldn't go back right away because I didn't have a visa anymore. After the Philippines, we would have to go to Czech for a few months and apply for a new one.
We spent about three weeks in the Philippines. After the wedding, we went to two small islands for a few days. First one, Malapascua, was a gem of an island where you can walk from one end to another within an hour. I struggled with a sickness for most of our time there but once I felt a little better and my body allowed me, I was eager to explore this interesting place.
With all eyes on us whenever we walked down a street for even though travelers come here often, mostly for diving, white people are still the centre of all attention. Kids always saying hi or smiling all shy as we waved at them. Half of the island was small hotels and resorts, and other half was little local villages. Such different worlds in such a small place. Fenced out. Walking through the streets I was struck by the poverty, the tiny little houses that big families shared in spaces we can't even imagine, the kids playing games with their flip-flops or trash they would find. But somehow they wouldn't let you feel sorry for them. Their smiles wouldn't let you. Most of the people on this small island seemed so content. Some had their own little gardens to grow things. The kids were always playing together and having fun, and in the mornings they walked to school in their perfectly white and ironed uniforms. And somehow I felt like they have much more joy not having all the things we think will bring us joy. The faces I saw were a lot more friendly than the ones I meet every day anywhere else.