Siargao

The Melting Pot

 
 

Breakfast with a Filipino, coffee with a Lithuanian, and dinner with a group legends from across the globe, each with their own cultures, traditions, languages, and stories to tell from their respective motherlands. Did you know that in Sweden they don’t use one word for “fart" Instead each type of fart has its own separate word (Prutt, Smygare and Brakare just to name a few). What about asking anyone except for an Aussie to pass your sunnies (sunglasses)? You’ll be met with a gaze of confusion while you go through and explain every word in the Australian version of the English dictionary (bottle-o or liquor store, servo or gas station, Maccas or McDonalds). Imagine if every single day you had the opportunity to sit down with a different person from one of the 196 countries on this globe (I’m including Taiwan- Soz China), and through simply engaging in conversation, you were able to learn about history, economics, science, language, religion and a whole array of other useful (and not so useful) facts and skills.

I left Australia 20 days ago and today I sat down and wrote a list of everyone who I’ve hung out with since arriving and had a meaningful conversation with, as well as the countries they were from. Any guesses how many countries were on that list? 20 different countries; in just under three weeks!

 
 

Now I know eventually the rate will begin to slow and I hardly expect that on day 196 a Tuvaluan village chief will walk into Fili Beans Espresso chasing a piccolo latte with almond milk (although that’d be so cool if he did, and totally worth the effort) but I’m excited that the travelers will continue to float into Siargao and when they come in to sample some of the best tasting coffee in the Philippines, I can’t wait to sit down and hear their story.

People come from all over the world, as well as from all over the Philippines to get a taste of life on this tropical island paradise and that’s a massive part of the island’s charm, but it’s hard to believe that a destination that up until a short time go, barely had a sealed road and now plays host to one of highest concentrated mix of international and Filipino visitors I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve travelled on some of the most saturated gringo trails on this planet from the surfer route through Central & South America, to the backpacker hangouts of Europe, and just about every corner of South East Asia but never have I experienced such a fusion of cultures, surfing together, partying together and forming lifetime friendships.

 
 

Maybe the reason attributing to this melting pot of travelers is that Siargao attracts a certain kind of person, whether it be surfers chasing epic waves or intrepid travelers looking to get off the beaten track; or perhaps it’s just more the case that this is one the most amazing, friendliest and pristine parts of the world and it’s simply just worth the visit. Regardless of the reason just know that it doesn’t really matter where in the world you’re from, if you end up here, you’ll have a plethora of likeminded travelers ready to hear your stories and keen to share theirs, and what better place than the beautiful tranquil grounds of Harana Resort, sipping on tasty Fili Beans Espresso coffee. 

Slice, Dice and Play Nice

 

It’s been pretty smooth so far. Reunited with a lot of old friends on the island, partied a little and will be bidding a pretty amazing crew farewell tomorrow. I've even managed to start getting stuck into some work on Fili Beans Espresso. That’s how I would’ve liked my second blog entry to begin; unfortunately though, smooth is probably the furthest adjective I’d use to describe how things have actually unfolded since departing Australia last Wednesday. It’s been an epic ride though and I’d do it all again 100 times over.

So how’ve things really played out the first week of the move? Well to start with there’s still no machine here, which as you can imagine, is slightly impacting coffee sales. I’ve got all of the important things cranking though; loads of Fili Beans stickers, business cards and cups, but with customs officers asking for more money than what the machine is even worth to release it, it’s meant that partying has taken precedent for the time being.

Instead of knocking out amazing espresso coffees for a bunch of customers, it’s been a week of bad dance-offs, inappropriate conversations, beach skinny dips, bon fires and enough beers to fill an Olympic swimming pool. Add to that a severed artery from what I can only hope was a clean and sterile boat propeller and I’d say there’s room for improvement for the rest of the move. 

What has been a massive success story are the people. The smiles and good vibes from staff at the restaurants and resorts, the locals and expats who’ve welcomed me back to the island with hospitality and friendliness which is second to none, the jovial doctor who kindly sewed nine stitches into the gaping wound in my leg and then joked that my blood soaked pants looked as though I was menstruating. Then there’s the party crew, the guys who cheered on my failed attempt at the worm in a dance off, the guys who cheered on my nudie run on the beach then hid my clothes from me, and everyone else who’s been there for the first week of my move to this island paradise – Siargao.  

Even the 50-hour journey over here, while exhausting and full of plenty of challenges with (100kg of luggage to drag around), had its own certain charm. Waking up at 3am to the sound of roosters on a passenger ferry had me laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation. There was also the excitement of meeting a group of strangers (with a mix of ages and nationalities) on their way over to the island and listing off all of the amazing things they had to look forward to. Then joining them on day trips up to the spectacular rock pools, the palm tree lined white sandy beaches of Daku Island, the numerous reef breaks around the island and the breakfasts, lunches and dinners where we’d all sit around reminiscing about the adventures we’ve had with a bunch of new friends you feel like you’ve known your whole life.

So I’ll be honest, things could have gone a little a smoother but I’m not here for smooth, I’m here adventure, I’m here for friendships, I’m here for the long haul and few bumps (hopefully not into anymore propellers) along the way keeps the ride more exciting.

 

Mr Fili Beans

 

Have you ever watched one of those clips on YouTube where people do handstands on building edges or head off on epic trekking adventures to the North Pole or hurl themselves off a cliff in a wingsuit, and then thought to yourself “I’d love to experience that rush”. It’s normally followed by an immediate inner monologue that promptly says, “but faaark that, I’m way too pretty to get frostbite on my nose. I’ll just start with investing my lifesavings in a cafe in a developing world country and go from there.”

Why? Because we need risk in our lives. It keeps things interesting. It detracts from the mundane and when we take on risks, we produce that amazing little chemical called dopamine that gives off a natural feeling of ecstasy and euphoria. I was craving a little dopamine; I just didn’t want to have to jump off a cliff to get some. So I packed my things…

The idea of this blog is to inspire people to step outside of their comfort zones, take the risks and reap the rewards of a sense of achievement and happiness when you take the leap and chase the dream. This doesn’t mean everyone will read this blog, quit their job and move to a tropical island and start an espresso bar. Some people hate sweating their arses off in the tropics and there are even some extreme cases where people don’t like coffee (I know, weird right?), but by following my journey over the next year or so someone might decide they’re ready to take the leap and do that thing they’ve been wanting to do; get their driver’s license, learn to kite surf, open up a cupcake store or ask out that hot barista at your local café (yeah the ginger one, you know him), because at the end of the day, you only get one crack.

So I’ve quit a job I loved doing with an inspiring bunch of workmates, left my awesome apartment and housemates in Coolangatta, kissed my amazing family goodbye and am about to board a plane to see what it’s like to follow your dreams and set up a life on one of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever experienced in my life; Siargao, Philippines!