I’ve been to a lot of different places…
But nothing gives me that indescribable feeling than this:
Almost suddenly, I was back to my roots. Not just the Philippines, but the island of Polillo. Far from the city where nature grows wild and free. This is where I spent the first few delicate years of my life. Coming to Kauai, something about it just felt easy. The sun stayed around just to give you that comforting warmth, the ocean breeze reminded you that everything will be just fine, the rain sprinkled if it got too hot, and this 75-85 degree weather stayed all morning and all night. Wear a jacket only if you choose to, not because you need to.
And because the weather is perfect, there’s no need for air conditioning. Most of the houses, restaurants, and even airports had open windows if they even have windows at all. With perfect weather, no wonder Hawaiians embrace mother nature.
Unlike the desert that I live in now, things grow easily in the tropics. In fact, a few people in my Habitat for Humanity crew asked, “Are these plants real?” thinking that nothing that beautiful could possibly be made naturally.
I remember the hibiscus flowers that grew around Polillo. I handpicked one almost every day just to stare at. They’re so pretty, why wouldn’t you put them in your hair? The plumeria flowers displayed on the coffee table back home, I remember declaring, “This is my favorite!” I remember these flowers, these trees, these ants. I remember the big cockroaches. In the Philippines, we lived with them. I’m scared of them now because I’ve been living in Arizona for 14 years, but when I come back to the Philippines, I should probably try not to be scared. Because at one point, I wasn’t! And I don’t remember one ever biting me.
So when I went to Anahola Beach and saw the clear, warm, inviting water, the big trees shading the picnic tables, the coconut trees that leaned over perfect for you to lie down on, I almost cried. This place people call paradise. I grew up at a place like this, and now I feel like I took it for granted. I was young, I didn’t know any worse. I thought the whole world was like that!
When I came back to our bedroom in Arizona, I was happy to have my own bed. I squeezed my arm to remove the weird discomfort I was feeling on my skin. Baffled, I asked “Issshhh…what is that?” Oh yeah…It’s air conditioning. I didn’t know air conditioning was a tad bit painful on the skin. It has ice crystals. Now I know why I’m one of the only people who gets cold easily. Now, I remember why I need chapstick and why I put on lotion every five minutes. My body was born to live in the tropics!
I don’t know if I will ever find myself living on a tropical island, again, but I have always been proud of where I came from and always will be. Kauai made my body remember what kind of weather it is healthiest in. It made me remember how beautiful plants can be, and how much I appreciated them when I was young. It made me remember the perfect weather conditions, and how unnatural air conditioning really is. Maybe I got lucky to have come to this place when every day was perfect. But whatever it is, it definitely made me miss the Philippines even more.
And no wonder I didn’t mind hearing the roosters in the morning.
With this discovery, I wanna ask, what’s your natural habitat?