Living On A Philippine Island – By Tanja Bulatovic
“What the hell am I doing here?” I wondered, as I struggled to fall asleep in the tree house. It was pitch-black. There was no electricity on the island and no sound to be heard, other than a party of tropical tree rats fighting for territory next to my mattress on the floor.
I was the only foreigner on a remote island north of Manila and I was there on a mission. Less than three weeks prior to this event, my husband Fabrice and I had met a French guy near St.Tropez who was looking for someone to oversee his shell import/export business in the Philippines. Apparently his son had done the job in the past, but the young lad had spent most of his time smoking the happy weed and consequently never got any work done. We saw this as a perfect new opportunity and we believe in pursuing opportunities when they come our way.
In addition, the timing was perfect. Fabrice and I had often entertained the thought of semi-retirement in some tropical paradise. Summer would be spent in Europe. Come winter, we’d dreamt of running off to our second home in the tropics, thereby avoiding the cold altogether. Evidently, we are not winter people. Give me beach, coconut water, fish, rice and a bamboo shack with a knockout view and I’m a happy girl. (An Internet connection wouldn’t go astray either, but you can’t have everything).
Needless to say, with this new circumstance, we were well on our way to realizing our dream when at the last minute Fabrice was offered a contract to work in the Middle East for the next three months. Suddenly, our fantasy of living in paradise was shattered…well, almost, where it not for an unexpected distortion in my mind. “I’ll go by myself”, I declared. After all, I was ready for a new adventure and I felt that this was it. The final clincher was a two second ‘Google Images’ browse, which clearly indicated that the beaches in the Philippines rivalled the worlds best, looking totally like the postcard-beaches in the Caribbean. Plus, the country was cheaper than Thailand and Bali. I couldn’t believe my luck. Heaven, at a fraction of the price. Two weeks later, I packed for Manila.
The ultimate goal (albeit vague) was to rent a cheap house on some tropical island, buy the shells and ship the containers back to France. The whole routine would take up to 3 or 4 months of the year, leaving plenty of time free to contemplate love, life and the universe. Once the shells were sold in France (wholesale), I would receive my commission, which was only a shade above the cost of purchase, but it didn’t matter. The aim here was lifestyle. And if I could make enough money to survive in paradise, it was all I needed. Best of all, Fabrice would join me in a few months (cut to 2 people running towards each other in slow motion on an exotic beach. He lifts her up, whirls her around and they finally embrace after their long and torturous separation). Whatever, you get my drift but you have to admit, the dream seemed viable. And when passion and freedom are your priority, why not dream big?
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