Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back Home...

Touch down Kona just in time to run the beach trail at sunset. After 15 hours of travel it felt like Heaven on Earth to be out running in the fresh air, near the beach, and with the sun about to set. I was wishing it was a sunrise though. The time change has me feeling like it's morning time and I'm ready to get back to life on the island, not go to bed. So many thoughts are parading around in my head, some ideas, a couple plans, and of course a lot of great memories from the Philippines. One of the plans I sorted out with coach, I have to run it by a couple others that make sport life possible for me, then I'll let you know the game plan. For now, just shake out some jet lag...

The last day in Naga was spent seeing some sights that were enough to make you count blessings till you lose count. It's not that I enjoy seeing others suffer or live in need, but I confess it always keeps me in check with reality and reminds me to give when I can and keep that humble attitude despite all I'm so very fortunate to have. This day made the entire Big Island group feel that sense of thankfulness for the little and big things in our lives.

The white ones are chicken, the purple are ducks... take your pick., the duck eggs go fast!

One part of our day had that "oooh and ahhhh" thing going on. We were given a special little trip to swim at the volcanoes edge. One side was very cold, from the spring, the other side was very hot. The hot side held claims from the Filipino crew that the sulfur and power of the volcano would heal pretty much anything from a headache to cancer. You know how it goes when visiting another culture, "do as they do and believe as they believe". So we took it as truth and went from the cold to hot 3 rounds, letting our bodies be cured of anything and everything.

From the Big Island we had 7 podiums, some of us got the "official Philippines watch with the country flag and race date on it". Pretty cool and my favorite color so no complaints here. It was a HUGE hi-light for me to be at a race with 20 people from home also at the race, it was an incredible experience sharing the race with them, the volcano with them, and of course the outreach with each of them.

The best part of our last day, even better than the wake boarding on the swim course under a full moon, was spending some time at the local school. I've seen schools in Central America more educationally deprived, these children actually had good teachers and most of them had clean clothes and shoes on their feet. What we brought were a bunch of school supplies and our time. More than anything it felt to me these kids just wanted some time. They held on to us and reached for us, complete strangers, as if we had a bunch of hope for them. All of them were happy more so than their poverty showed, but it was evident that they survived on hope.

Despite having so little to eat, (the teacher informed us some are malnourished), limited to sleep space and a home, these children all wore giant smiles with sincerity. It was the hope thing over and over with each of them, like maybe whatever we were bringing would make life easier even if only for the day. It was bits of hope that just maybe whatever we said was worth holding onto as it would lead to belief things will get better for them. Whatever it was those children surrounded us, held us, hugged us, and cried when we left.

Today, well yesterday time in Hawaii but today time in the Philippines, we had an 8hr layover in Manila. That meant one thing, be a girl. Lucky for us some students in training to be hair dressers and nail technicians were all eager to "doll us up". Repeatedly I apologized for my post-race feet, and repeatedly one of the girls giggled and laughed having no idea what I was saying but kept on painting away. From there they continued to cut hair, wash and brush our hair, wax one of the girls eye brows, paint finger nails, and even massage us. You would typically get a bill after a day like that easily over $100, maybe triple it. It was a whopping $4-$17 bucks today and easily filled the layover with laughter and pampering just in time to get us on a plane.

Oh Philippines, you once again have given me a race I will never forget. The swimbikerun part of it challenged me, gave me a paycheck, and of course taught me more race lessons for future races. The Filipino people, you have again challenged me to appreciate my life and count blessings, I've made so many new friends and enjoyed reuniting with old ones. You are so beautiful with those giant smiles strung across your faces. To the Hawaii team, I am so glad we are more than friends, to have you as ohana means so much to me, I love you all and your big, beautiful hearts! Seeing you out racing and giving to the children made me so thankful I come from the same island as you!


Okay, now I'm starting to finally get tired, tomorrow its back to my life at home...



Tamara said...

Have a great backing...triathlon

Jill Costantino said...

so beautiful! HOT springs - awesome! Love the hair too! How awesome doing this race with 20 people from your home:)

Lucy Francis said...

Hope is what keeps us alive and to see the kids happy despite some of the deprivation is a lesson to us all. How cool to have a big group from the big island racing with you too. This is is something that non-sporting people fail to see: Sport brings not only fitness but lots of friends and opportunities to socialize. Glad you're home enjoying the sunsets again