Time alone is good for the soul, in my humble opinion. When Pat and I went our separate ways at the Manila airport, we agreed that it would be a full-separation. One of the benefits of traveling alone is all the introspection prompted by down-time and no one to talk to but yourself. Yes, it can get lonely, but no pain, no gain! If we turned to the familiar company of our relationship via facebook, emails, and live chats when things got quiet, it would defeat half the purpose of setting out alone.
Of course, every self-introduction longer than five minutes involves an explanation of “my partner,” where he is, and why on earth we’re doing this crazy traveling apart thing. Once, as I struggled for words regarding why we don’t stay in touch, my companion offered, “Because when you get back together you wouldn’t have anything to talk about?” Ha! So far from the truth!
After two weeks apart, our paths crossed in Baguio, the town I’ve been hanging out in for a few weeks. Although we connected in Baguio fairly late (midnight?), after a pizza/pasta snack with the Baguio posse, Pat and I stayed up talking until 2 a.m. Same story the next night. After showing Pat my favorite spots in Baguio (cheap eats and the ice cream shop where they call me, “Hello Ma’am Jema”), playing games at the arcade for a few hours, and going to Beth’s mom’s delicious, incredible birthday dinner — we were up for another two hours because we couldn’t stop chatting. Proof of our adoration for each other, I think, is that we always have something to talk about.
I really enjoyed showing Pat my favorite market stall (the “I like your teeth” teenager), my favorite peanut seller (who has shrunken limbs and always tries to swindle me), and my spots to hang at the park. He introduced me to shwarma’s (Filipino style) and entertained me with an elaboration on his adjustment to the Philippines (in moments of weakness, we’d both broken down and read each other’s blogs).
We spent a full day traveling with the posse down to the coast, where we relaxed at a fancy resort and watched Beth and Niel try their luck at the casino. Beth’s ears wouldn’t “pop” on the way down. She struggled with the ache the whole time we were at sea level. As we headed back uphill, instead of the hoped-for relief, she experienced intense pain. If you read “Cracked Under Pressure”, you’ll know I just popped my eardrum a few weeks ago. Well, coincidentally, poor Beth blew hers, too — albeit under different circumstances. Ironically, after an hour at the hospital, we still went out to the bar! I was ordered to sing with the band – a song from a previous night out, but this time in the wrong key. Oh, and I think I got a dislocated shoulder from being thrown around by (dancing with) my behemoth of a partner who “sometimes hits me in the face accidentally.”
After begging for and being granted an earlier bedtime, we spent most of our last day in Baguio just relaxing and getting our separate internet fixes. Then we were swept up in the wonderful Beth whirlwind, landing us at the log-cabin-lodge at Camp John Hay for dinner. Afterwards we strolled through the “winter wonderland” listening to REAL CHRISTMAS MUSIC! (Instead of the Katy Perry-ish, deck-the-halls-on-speed variety that I generally hear here.) Sadly, the snow schedule and our visit didn’t align (six times a day for three weeks, they flip on the snow machine). Also sad — saying goodbye to Pat in the morning. I managed to hold back the deluge of tears with a few sniffles and bid my love goodbye for a few more weeks. ♣
This photo album features the birthday feast, the adorable nine-and-unders at Beth’s house, and you can meet Neil!