I had originally planned to post about places I have travelled and then inspiration struck and I penned something completely different. Then the worst happened, I lost it all and now I'm hoping my hosting platform can somehow help me retrieve. Alas I'm back to my original plan.
Years ago I had the lifestyle experience to travel to the Philippines. A group of us were working with a humanitarian organization and we all were volunteering to serve people in the Philippines in whatever way we could depending on their needs. I was a teenager and I was nervous but knew I had to go. I was there for 3 months and we were based in Olongapo City. I remember clearly in one of our briefing meetings that we had to let go of our own culture and adapt to theirs ie. not being rude, not saying no to food we weren't used to eating. Maybe because I was young it was easier for me to adapt but literally the moment I got off the plane I pretended I was on another planet and wiped my hometown from my mind. It's not that I never thought of it but I really adapted and became part of the culture around me. I never said no to any food no matter what I thought of it.
I could talk at length about this experience but I will pick a few highlights from my trip. The people I met were gracious and kind and they didn't have much but what they had they were grateful for.
I remember one day we visited a dump and got to meet the people living there. We brought treats for the families like snacks you would get at a grocery store and everyone was so overcome with gratefulness. It was like we were giving them a million dollars. I remember seeing children playing among the trash and laughing and I couldn't understand why they were laughing with so little but they didn't know anything else. We hugged the families and spoke with the children we met. I remember crying as we boarded our bus realizing that I could be born here. Through tears I remember feeling so grateful for all the things I take for granted.
The culture there is very different, people ride Jeepneys and to walk you need to have a cotton hankie over your mouth because the air is so thick with pollution. Coca-cola was served in clear baggies with a straw which I found so novel. I tried Balut one day after hearing a man go by our street almost daily yelling "Baaaaalut". It's a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in the shell and my friends dared me to try it. It tastes similar to a salty egg.
Where have you travelled? I'd love to know in the comments below.