We stopped traveling
We stopped, so we could move forward. The journey never really ended, it was only the beginning, better things were to come and so here we are….
It’s been about 6 months since we completely “stopped” traveling. After “finishing” our trip in South America, abruptly stopping in Ecuador to backtrack and go north to Seattle and then to the Philippines to process a European visa we would never get. This wasn’t the ideal way of ending our trip but we thought we’d be in Europe for two years after it was all said and done. Instead, Camille and I ventured to the Philippines’ last frontier, aka Palawan, and found ourselves mesmerized by Bacuit Bay more commonly known as El Nido and completely and utterly confused about how to transition out of long-term travel. In September 2016 we came and left El Nido, in October we returned, in November, December, January, and February we were in and out.
The timeline went from an initial visit to discussions of buying property as an investment since we were still waiting for a visa that would never come for a job in Austria. Camille and I came back the following month to close a deal for a piece of land that turned out to be a bad deal. Good thing lawyers are hired for such transactions. Lawyer JT took us to a place he was staying at further south of town and we met a man who would eventually become one of our good friends in El Nido. He helped us find a slice of paradise just a few hundred meters from one of our favorite beaches. From dirt to paper work and some cash being exchanged we were on our way to fulfilling our dreams of hosting people during their migration from wherever they came from to The Birdhouse in El Nido.
Passing up on incredible opportunities
Every incredible opportunity presented to you isn’t always the perfect fit for you. You will come to realize, as you truly open yourself up to the goodness of this world, that opportunities, amazing opportunities, will continue to be present. Some of them just aren’t for you….
So what happened with the job in Austria?
Well we got super excited about the prospect of living in Austria for two years. Of course being Filipino the first question we had was whether or not the visa would be a problem? This was clarified and it seemed like we wouldn’t have issues. After flying from Seattle to Austria for two days I received an astounding no to my visa application, I had to gather more documents, and play the waiting game. We went to the Austrian embassy in Manila several times for submission of documents and further clarification. One thing we noted was that Camille could go to Austria on a travel visa but once in Austria couldn’t get her visa converted to a dependent visa even though I would be there with my work visa. Instead, she would have to come back to the Philippines and apply for her dependent visa. The timeframe for waiting….. 2-6 months. Look we just spent 500 days on a honeymoon and the last thing we wanted was to potentially be away from each other for half a year waiting for a visa. Sure some of you might counter with, that’s just the sacrifice that comes with living in Austria. I won’t argue that you’re wrong but given our adamancy of creating our own lifestyle we decided after much deliberation that we would forgo the job and figure out a way to make
During one trip from El Nido to Puerto Princesa, I took notes, based on a Tim Ferris podcast with Seth Godin, that you can see below in preparation for this blog post. So about 5 weeks later here I am writing because I’m exhausted doing social media, business planning, standardizing hotel operations, podcasting and taking Coursera classes on hotel management, looking and financing, and doing the other million things that it takes to create a nest. I guess I’d rather be telling you a story right now than preparing your nest, good thing for your we’re doing both. Also fortunately for me, Camille is the perfect balance to my imbalance. She’s the details, I’m the big picture. She’s the calm collective one talking to suppliers while I’m the more upfront in your face type when it comes to any transaction. Learning how to travel with your wife is one thing, running a business is another. We’ve done well being intimately next to each other during our honeymoon 24/7 and are up for the next challenge of running The Birdhouse together.
The day to day
We sleep under stars and beautiful skies never worried about the air that we breathe. We dream while the ocean crashes just meters from our window. Each day we wake up, we have breakfast and there are people getting ready for tours, walking around half naked, in front of what should be a protected marine sanctuary. People are darker after their few days they’ve spent in our backyard, there’s not much talk about work or life stress, smiles abound and drinks are drunk. Each day is different from the colors of the ocean to the type of people we interact with. Some days we see sea turtles, other days we get stung lightly by jellyfish, and for exercise, we swim or go kayaking. A couple hundred meters behind all this on a little hilltop overlooking the bay is our mother nest, our home, and the little nests are hosting spaces we’ve dubbed The Birdhouse. No day is the same! When we’re super stressed out we look up from our computer screens or go for a dip in the ocean and see gorgeous views of islands that dot Bacuit Bay.
Why a hotel?
We have no idea how to run a hotel so what better thing to do than run a hotel?
What did we just do? We moved around the world being hosted by hundreds of people. We received love, we gave love. How do we continue this? Create a dwelling, a nest, a hosting space. To know where you are look at where you’ve been, where you’re going and between that spectrum is your answer.
We’ve done tons of work exchanges during our trip and started learning about reservations systems, social media, marketing, hospitality and services. Since we were getting sponsored stays from April 2016 onwards we met tons of hotel owners and managers, some of whom have become friends of ours. There’s Philip from Pweza Bungalows in Zanzibar, Maggie from Posada del Quinde in Ecuador, Allan from Bodhi Hostels in Panama, and tons more. We’ve created a network of hoteliers to tap into should we ever we need help, which clearly we do. Since traveling, we’ve become better learners seeking out opportunities and understanding that we shouldn’t be limited to our formal education or a document that says what we studied. If that were the case we would have closed ourselves off to an infinite number of possibilities. Blogging help us a ton as we now have a network in the travel industry to help feature our property. Social media has been huge since we’ve been wanting to create a space to host people, we verbalized this throughout our honeymoon and obviously we checked different hotels during our trip.
The process for this blog came while on a van shuttle ride from El Nido to Puerto Princesa while listening to a Tim Ferris Podcast where he was interviewing marketing genius Seth Godin. Go find inspiration somewhere, everyday!