While island-binging in the Pacific, I made a last-minute decision to go to the Philippines after snagging a cheap flight to a place called Boracay. Having done little research beyond the geographical location of the island, I didn’t realize that Boracay was a tourist hotspot and popular destination for honeymooners, and, because I arrived late at night, I wouldn’t grasp the scope of its beauty until morning. Thinking that it only took the click of a button to buy a plane ticket to get me here evoked a sense of euphoria inside me as I bounced along the island backroads toward a guesthouse in a motorized tricycle decked out with flashing lights, jingling bells, and a stereo system blaring one of Akon’s typical songs about Africa.
The bungalow in which I stayed was situated in a manicured orchid garden only a two-minute walk from the beach. It was quiet and peaceful there. Guests could either pay for wifi on a daily basis or take advantage of time away from the ever-distracting worldwide web to soak up the island life. I scouted out a favorite spot on the beach a few feet away from the water next to a beachside restaurant called Shantal’s Bar, where I regularly interacted with the three sweet girls who were cousins and worked there together; tight family bonds are typical in the Philippines. I spent afternoon upon afternoon there – writing, eating, swimming, drinking, writing, then swimming more. My constant craving for mango smoothies was satisfied as I could walk ten steps in the sand on a whim and order one from a shack on the beach.
Lining Boracay’s White Sand Beach just past the shore was a giant aquamarine swimming pool that is more commonly referred to as the ocean. It was the most inviting ocean I had ever seen! Crystal blue waters beckoned visitors to take a dip or go for a swim. The water was lukewarm, like a bathtub, and so clear that I could see straight down to my toenail polish on the white sandy bottom. There were hardly any rocks, corals, or sea plants, only a handful of small white fish that camouflaged well against the sand. The best part was that there wasn’t a single wave in sight which meant no sand in my bathing suit! It was so clean and perfect that it felt surreal. More than once, as I was out floating around in the calm turquoise water, I started laughing in disbelief that I was in the middle of a scene from a postcard. All I did was hop on a plane, then a van, then a boat, then a tricycle and – BAM! – I found myself in paradise.