Across the street stood a huge, lit up Christmas tree. It felt so out of place in the tropical climate of Manila and I smiled as I saw a huge family gathering by it to snap a group photo. I offered to take a picture for them so that they could all be in the shot. Taking pictures like that for people is one of my favorite things to do and I made sure to give them a lot of poses and angles to choose from. I was on my knees on the ground in an “almost falling over” position when one of the little girls broke away from the group and ran over to me yelling, “thank you!” I handed the camera back to its owner as the little girl squeezed her arms around my neck in what is now officially the sweetest hug I have ever received.
All of the adults laughed.
And then the mom turns her camera on me and the little girl. And then a boy feels left out and comes over for a picture. And then the family brings a little toddler over for a pic. And the whole time we are laughing and smiling and cameras are flashing away. I wonder how many of those people have my face on their phones and showed those pictures and told this exact story?
My 5 day vacation to the Philippines was enjoyable and fun, and the Gilhuises were amazing hosts and took me to incredible places, but that hug… that hug was the highlight of my trip.
On our last full day in Puerto Galera we walked along the beach checking out abandoned resorts and searched for a path back to where we were staying. Dan was about to lead us through way-too-deep-water around a huge rock to the other part of the beach when a little girl came up to us and pointed to a path around the rock, a path on dry land. We smiled and thanked her, asking what her name was.
“Melody.” She said.
Poor Melody was probably SUPER confused when Erika and I flipped out. I pointed to myself excitedly saying my name with a big grin on my face. It’s very rare that I meet another me. She didn’t seem to think it was that big of deal. She was way cooler than me.
Yes, this post is very delayed. Yes, I started writing it months ago. Yes, I still wish to post it.
Thanks for a great trip, Gilhuises. Can’t wait for you to come to Australia!