A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A WANDERLUST

It’s the journey more than the destination

Holiday Series: #3 Adrift

January 16, 2021

Here I am

At the coast of Mombasa

Looking beyond the vast Indian Ocean

Watching the boats sway with the wind and the waves

And I walk along its white sandy beaches

Warm water wet our feet

As it brings me back

To my place of respite for the night

Holiday Series: #2 First Meals of The Day at #DianiBeach Mombasa Kenya

January 12, 2021

The trip last Saturday, if you count the hours, only took 8, but the prep to get to the airport took half of that. Because it’s an early flight, you don’t expect me to have a proper meal at any of the stops. The planes don’t offer meals for an hour trip each way. So when I arrived in Nairobi, I am hungry. I realized I didn’t eat the night before – now thinking about why I have no answer.

But I arrived very early, so having breakfast at 6.30 in the morning seated in the domestic departure area was out of the question. Don’t get me wrong, there are coffee places, but that is way too early for me even to drink coffee. So, I promised myself that when I arrive at #DianiBeach and settle in the #QueensChateau, I will only eat seafood – fish, crabs, lobster, shrimps, and squid. The meat will not be until I return to Kampala in a couple of weeks.

Lunch

I joined my colleague slash friend in Mombasa. They’ve been here for a couple of weeks, and they know their way around. They found the house a block away from the beach, so it’s not very far to get your feet on the sand anytime.

When I arrived, they suggested we have lunch at the beach. You don’t have to ask me twice, I obliged, and she didn’t disappoint. She brought me to #bidibadu restaurant along the beach and ordered my first meal of grilled fish with chips.

You be the judge how good it was

Before… I can’t help myself and wait for the others

After… Eaten in less than 30 minutes

I washed it down with my first coconut water

Overall it was a good afternoon on the beach.

Dinner

It was delightful.

We went to dine at #Lantana resort. The place is very nice and well organized. The architecture mimics that of the middle astern building I am familiar with. After all, Mombasa has a significant Arab influence, so I guess that why Lantana has that feel to it everywhere, you look.

Façade #LantanaResort

Floor tiles

The lantern at the entrance of the building is casting a shadow on the ceiling #LantanaResort

We ordered a seafood platter for three people, and it didn’t disappoint. We enjoyed every bit of it.

Finger licking good… Lobster, calamari, fish fillet, and shrimps

Stomaches filled. A brief walk to our castles, the queens are now ready for a night cup and sleep.

Holiday Series: #1 Off To Kenya

January 10, 2021

I took the plunge; I traveled out of Uganda to finally take my leave and have fun in Kenya!

Funny how talking to someone dear to me changed my mind about traveling. Well, he didn’t exactly change my mind about it but convinced me enough to re-think about joining my friends in Mombasa. Which, by the way, I should have done two weeks before, but I didn’t.

So here I am, in our castle #QueensChateau along Galu Beach.

Dhidhak photos (Mombasa, Kenya 2021)

But what brought me here was not without a hitch, which almost made me want to turn back, if I am that superstitious, which I am not.

Midnight run

Uganda still has a curfew at 9 PM. To make the trip to the airport after that time, I decided to go the official way, hire our organization go to taxi services. Good, I did that because to reach the airport, I was stopped five times – yes! 5 times!

The first checkpoint was not far from #TheSummit, and it was the one that asked many questions before we were let go. The rest is mere routine, but still best to be driven by someone allowed to be on the road after curfew.

Because of the curfew too that I almost had an accident pfffttt! 🙄

As we moved from our second check-point, getting out to the #LugogoBypass, turning to the right, one car was speeding in our direction — good thing my driver was alert and managed to avoid a head-on collision and the vehicle swerved but didn’t slow their speed. I suspected that those party-goers (it being a Friday) were intoxicated and were avoiding a check-point.

The sudden bright light in front of us woke me up while the driver slammed the breaks. When they passed us, they were still laughing as if nothing happened. I was shaken a bit after not being out at night for over ten months, and I was not expecting it.

Checking In

I will only be away for a couple of weeks, but I felt like I am not coming back for a month — I have 19 kilos of luggage and a back-pack. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I just want to make sure I have everything I need since it is my first time in Mombasa.

It’s an early morning flight. I was expecting the airport will be quiet or at least not swarming with people – I was wrong. There are long queues, big suitcases. Four flights are flying at the same time as me, so you know what I mean.

The organization at the airport was right – I’ve sent off people, so I know that they were following SOP. All my documents were in order

negative covid-19 test – ✔
within the time limit – ✔,
passport with a valid visa – ✔,

and when I reached my airline counter, additional documents were validated —

registration and passenger are tracing QR code available – ✔✔ again!

One thing that irritates me, though, is that people, despite plenty of reminders around the airport to keep distance and stickers on the floor where to stand when lining up — they come to close and breathe over my neck (not literally because they have their masks on tho). I kept looking back and giving them the eye, and if it doesn’t work, I asked them to move! Snobbish right? Well, I am still a bit paranoid, traveling, or being in crowded places, knowing that I am the only one following the rules.

It was a precedent to my karma that morning — it’s already Saturday when I checked in! When it was my turn, I put my heavy bag to be checked using my non-dominant arm and twisted my wrist – bummer! I knew I sprained my wrist and without ice, it will hurt and slow me down. The pain was immediate, and I had no access to ice; I asked the cafeteria, but they don’t have any, even the water was not cold enough to offer relief.

My flights are short, and I know that by noon I will be in Mombasa, and I can buy something to get it set until it recovers. Good thing I carried my hot/cold pack, which I can use until it heals completely.

I’m not superstitious, but I do believe in karma — it just keeps happening to me to ignore.

I tried to make less movement as I could, but I made the mistake of putting my backpack overhead. When I took it out in Nairobi, the pain increased, and I regretted my lack of anticipation. The next flight was much better.

Off to the castle

#QueensChateau is waiting for me. It took an hour and a half and one free ride to get to Diani.

Arriving very early in Nairobi, I didn’t have a chance to go to a pharmacy to get a bandage and cold spray, so the first order of business to my driver in Mombasa is to the bank and pharmacy and get this wrist strain controlled.

The first half of the trip, the amount of complaint I had with the heat will make you think I don’t live in a tropical country. Only when we turned to Ukunda that I started to feel I am on the coast. The breeze turned fresh and cool, with very low humidity even during the middle of the day.

When I arrived at our lodging for the first week of my holiday, I was happy to be home!

The first week of the year is almost gone. We all experienced a subdued New Year celebration, and everything seems the same, or maybe worst. But that is not what I wanted to talk about.

Before the year ended, I made plans, or some people made plans for me on what I will do in 2023 … yeah! I arrived baby 😅

This blog is not a rant; it is my way of saying “thank you” to the people that made that for me. For nominating me to be the Club President two years from now.

In this life, we have to always be thankful even for the small wins we achieve every day. And this is one of them.

Some context …

One morning after Christmas, I received a message from our past president and responsible for training — Tita Del. My brain doesn’t wake up fully until it’s lubricated with coffee. Hence, it took me a while to understand the message to give a proper reply.

“It was to include my name in the raffle for the club presidency in 2023, and the current president will draw it during the virtual party of the club – December 29.”

There are four other names in the nomination. But I’m the most senior (not by age 🙃) and already rotarized; she hoped I would volunteer and be done with it.

I didn’t know nomination goes as far as two years; that’s why I was confused about the dates. I even thought it was for next year because we still have a week of 2020 left.

After the dates were clarified, I asked to sleep on it and come back with my answer.

Club presidency is elected every year, and to ensure succession, there’s already a nominee the following year, which would be me after the current presidency. There are two people before me that I can learn from and support until my time to shine. So you can understand me not responding too quickly.

Some history …

I am part of a small rotary club in the city of San Pedro, Province of Laguna. The place where my siblings and I spent our summers and my parents’ retirement home.

RC Metro San Pedro is one of the few we have in the city. I said small because compared to the other clubs in our district and the clubs I fellowship here in Uganda, ours were not even reaching 30 members. Among the 30, not all are active, and I, for one, am out of the country.

I joined when I was back home in 2018, so I am almost new. But I am familiar with Rotary International and the work they do because of the interactions I had with them in the past, in my international posts, especially in East Timor. When I got inducted, I am unsure how my membership will pan out, considering the work I do. Still, I wanted to be part of an institution with the same values as I have as a person and extend my passion for the work I do, and one of them is #RotaryInternational.

With me are members of the RC Metro San Pedro (PP Rowena in Salmon shirt invited me to join during her presidency in 2015, but I got called to Gaza), and District 3820 leadership

Going back to the message …

After a shot of caffeine, the message sunk in my sleepy brain; I replied, to give me time to think. It will be a big commitment; I am not sure I am ready to decide immediately. I have a lot to consider — the work-life balance is tilted with the addition of philanthropy on the side.

If I accept the club’s presidency voluntarily, the raffle will be forgone, and it will be announced at the party. Then the preparation can begin.

I accept, but …

Honestly, I don’t know where I will be in 2023. As a humanitarian worker, I decide where I will be based on the country and what’s available for me to do. When I finish here in Uganda, I will have to choose where to search for work. One option will be to work in the Philippines, but that one is at the bottom of the pile.

It depends on where I will be. I hope to be closer to home to make it easy for me to participate in activities and lead. For now, I need to get my head around understanding how to be a rotary club president, how to make it work when the time comes.

There are two years between now and then. Enough time to prepare me for the role, and maybe enough time to devise a way to perform my duties remotely. Pretty much like what I am doing now with the multiple projects I support from around the country.

I have seen that transition from face to face meetings to virtual meetings works. The Transforming Presidency (2020-2021) made it looks easy — virtual Rotary International events and activities. We’ve had sisterhood signing, an anniversary celebration, inductions, Christmas party, and the regular weekly meeting was done online. The annual RI event globally was also done virtually. It was not easy for me, though, especially with the time difference and the conflict with workload and travel.

But responding to disasters, meeting the beneficiaries, building relationships are the area in the work of RI you cannot avoid to do in person. Good thing, the small numbers of membership we have, the better we are in coordinating and responding to make the club relevant. The current pandemic and restrictions did not paralyze the club. For my part, I try to be as active as I can from a distance.

The #transformingpresident Jeannette Rodelas and president-elect Rose Burce deliver relief goods in Bicol after the typhoon in November 2020

RC Metro San Pedro team up with the Philippine Navy in delivering relief goods in remote parts of Bicol last November 2020

The pandemic changed a lot of things around. Virtual may look like the answer, but it’s only one way to get things moving, to make it happens.

After much thought and being reminded I need to answer, I resolved to accept what is inevitable.

I accept the challenge because I know you will not let me down and not leave me alone …

I was assured by PP (Tita) Del that she will guide me through and be there regardless of my situation. I am confident I can do the job required, just that my situation is complicated. I know, too, that the rest of the membership will not let me down and hold me accountable to make sure I do my job and do it well.

As early as now, I like to say to my colleagues at the #RotaryClubofMetroSanPedro a big thank you — for the trust in nominating me to lead the club in the year 2023.

I accept.

Continue reading

I started writing this couple of hours before the calendar changes to 2021 in Uganda while getting ready to welcome the new year on my balcony with my wine, anticipating the sporadic fireworks displays even though I know it is not allowed. Unfortunately, barely 30 minutes before ushering in the new year, the skies cracked open and unleashed a strong thunderstorm–that took care of the fireworks! I retreated to my bedroom, opened my drapes and watch the skies lit up, and listen to the wind whistle.

The weather today

Back home by now, they are fast asleep; they celebrated five hours before, with no fireworks too, and no visitors, but they still made a lot of food, which would be shared with the neighbors during new year lunch.

Everyone anticipated the new year. We can’t wait to get over twenty-twenty, but with the looks of things happening everywhere, it seems like we’re in for a 2.0 version of what we just had.

Not wanting to sound cynical, but it seems like instead of getting better, our situation is getting turned for the worst again. The mutated virus’s announcement means we’re pulled back to the laboratory once again to see how this mutation happened and if it will be as virulent as the original virus.

Just when some countries started to vaccinate their people, this mutation will challenge the effectiveness of the vaccine. It raises questions on its efficacy to prevent the NCov_19 in the future and eventually to create herd immunity in each country.

Same time in the twenty-twenty back home, we were unsuspecting of the imminent danger of an invisible foe. I think no one around the world was paying attention, and even China was in denial the virus started there.

Towards the middle of January back home, we were fighting to get over the eruption of #Taal volcano; little did we know that’s the start of us wearing masks to prevent first choking from the ash, will be yearlong to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. I narrowly escaped full-blown pandemic announcement when I returned to Uganda in early February; it was not until late March that the virus reached the East African countries, and well you knew what happens until now.

It really was a challenging year!

Whatever situation we’re in, like the sunrise and sunset, we should not lose #hope and #faith in each other.

We are strong together.

— We offer and participate in the solutions when we can.

— We abide by the new normal of taking care of ourselves and those around us-out loved ones, and neighbors.

— We are not alone, a community that can break through our times’ challenges if we believe.

I wish you all a Happy New Year! Despite our circumstances, there’s no reason not to keep the tradition of sending off the old and ushering in the new.

MASAGANANG BAGONG TAON SA LAHAT!

Share in the comments me your wishes and dreams for 2021