A Golden Sunset in El Nido, Philippines

Finally, after 3 days of torrential rains, howling wind and general misery, the sun peeked through the clouds to cast a golden sheen across the Bacuit Bay.

A Golden Sunset in El Nido, Palawan, the Philippines

El Nido sunsets are normally beautiful, but I have never seen one with these tawny shades before and had to share.

Spending time in Palawan has been truly eye-opening. From the crazy air-sirens of El Nido, to new friends and wandering the streets in search of food and saying hello to the people in town, it has been a very unexpected few months.

I certainly did not think when I quit my job in New York that I would find myself living in a small village with electricity only part of the day, helping run a wonderful guesthouse. Nor did I expect that I would enjoy being by the water as much as I have. I’ve long been a mountain person, not a beach person. When people would take vacations to the beach I would shake my head, “better you than me.”

Since I began these travels I see how myopic my ideas of “beach vacation” were. Growing up in Canada, they meant simply taking an all-inclusive to Cuba, or a week of the same elsewhere in the Caribbean. Now that I have been on the move myself, unable to avoid water-loving humans, I am more open to the many additional options. Sailing trips. Long boat rides across the sea. Beach sports and adventure.

And here in El Nido, a more relaxing option. Sitting in huge wooden baskets overlooking the bay and marvelling at how it changes depending on the light. Dipping my toes into the water after breakfast, deep in thought. Walking to town by the beach, watching the way that El Nido wakes up in the morning before the sun fully rises.

It’s an important lesson and I think one that can be applied to travel generally. Pre-existing notions are how we came to be what we are today, but it’s incredibly important to maintain a sense of curiosity and wonder. And to be willing to learn from new places and the people you meet.

In my case, my fellow travelers who love water have shown me I was too judgemental about my mountain-bias, and this lovely town has offered up an ideal opportunity to explore this newfound warmth for things relating to the sea.

I’ve only got a bit longer in El Nido. I’ll be flying to Indonesia to explore Bali with a friend I met in Thailand, and then we shall see. It’s hard to believe this trip has taken form so haphazardly but that too was a good lesson to learn. Plan the broad swaths of travels but let the serendipity and natural beauty take over for the rest.

-Jodi