Its been a great two weeks. My last week in Miag-ao, my home for the past 30 months, went as well as one could ever have hoped. I had to beat my own melancholy off at times, sometimes it was difficult. Yet I tried to refuse to let the thoughts of leaving have a negative impact on my few remaining days. I was able to say as many good-byes as I could have hoped, and left with great closure. The last 2 days were relatively intense. Starting with the planning of my going away party (I'm sorry for lack of pictures, my camera was getting repaired throughout this whole week, however videos are coming soon). With lots of help from my friends and family I was able to throw an amazing party that consisted of one roasted pig (thank you Rotary Club of Miagao!), another 100 kilo pig that was slaughtered and prepared into seven separate local dishes, and lots of snacks, deserts, soda, and of course rum and brandy for all. My best estimate is nearly 300 people were in attendance throughout the day, it started at lunch time, carried through till dinner and lasted till two in the morning. A fantastic day. A fantastic way to say goodbyes.
The next day was focused on cleaning, final packing, and watching Mayweather destroy Hatton, much to Tintin's discontent. Yet that night, as we were preparing to hit the hay for my final night in Miagao I had a number of good friends stop by my house to say some more final goodbyes and give me some parting presents. It was all very touching, and as I've said time and time again, how lucky I am to have been assigned there.
Getting on my bike and leaving Miagao proved to be an emotional battle for me. My final goodbyes to the little kids of my host family and neighbors were the straws that broke the camels back. I caught myself breaking down, with tears growing in my eyes, each time. This happened again as I passed my work and left town, riding into the sunrise. What a great few years it had been!
Today I'm sitting in the first of many new locations, Bagio City. We arrived yesterday morning from Manila. We had left this morning to bike to the Eco-haven, Sagada. I was, and am, extremely excited to visit there. Many of good friends have come back with nothing but high praise for the place and now it is my turn. However this morning, after leaving Bagio early on our bikes and covering around 20 kilometers, my rear spoke on the sprocket side of my wheel broke. For the non-bikers out there, that is basically the only thing that can occur on the road that cannot be fixed on the spot (unless you happen to carry the big/heavy tools needed, which I don't). The next bike shop was 120 kilometers, so I had little choice but to return to Bagio for the repairs. Tomorrow early Tintin and I will set off for "take II" with our fingers crossed for a bit better luck.
In this area of the Philippines it is actually cold. At least by my standards, getting down to 15C, which is around 55 F (I think). I know you Midwesterners out there are laughing at this, but after never feeling anything colder than 70 the past two years it was a shock at first. I have grown to rather enjoy it over the past 2 days. It is nice to wear a sweater and not sweat. It is nice to walk a kilometer and not sweat. I realized I have missed the briskness. Now I have to soak it up over the next 7 days, because by Christmas day I'll be in Borneo, on the equator, sweating my ass off. Literally.
Keep your eyes open for our videos. We have a few ready now but need to wait for higher speed internet to upload them.