Slow Down! Retire! Move To The Tropics!

Then What?

It all sounds good but do you really think you can take your life down to living at a snail’s pace? Just before I retired in 2013, I welcomed the slow and easy life where I would just lay around at home in my hammock all day. And when I wasn’t at home, I would be laying in a hammock on some beach somewhere, sipping exotic drinks out of a coconut shell with a little umbrella to keep my drink cool.  That’s what I had envisioned anyway.

Can you do exactly that when living in the Philippines? Absolutely! But most people would soon get bored very quickly. One should always be careful what they wish for! While that lifestyle might offer a quick respite from the drudgeries of someone’s everyday working life, you can easily fall into a rutt – A not so healthy rutt.

After moving into our new home, and when all the anxietal shock wore off, I was looking for things to keep me busy. Initally, the hammock life beckoned me – afterwards in reality, it just wasn’t practical. When boredom sets in, it can lead to depression. And that is not healthy either. But just knowing that hammock is there for when you need it is a great remedy in and of itself. And you should use it whenever  necessary.

Staying True to Yourself.

Living in a strange land where everyone offers a helping hand in everything you do, it’ almost hard to keep yourself busy. It doesn’t take long for you to feel somewhat left out of your own life. Others can easily make you feel incabable and incompetent (not intentionally)… if you let them. Some will even insist that you do not know the right way do do things, so they will offer to do it for you.

One of the hardest parts of learning to live in the Philippines is taking control of your life (and things) early on, as everyone around you seemingly wants to make all your decisions for you. And they will treat you like the proverbial king. “Don’t do this, don’t eat that, let me do that for you, don’t go there!” It’s like a train wreck waiting to happen, and you will be derailed if you allow it.  Set your expectations early on, and look for things to do that keep your interest- activities that will keep you busy.

After several years living in Samar, it was getting more difficult to find things to do to keep me busy. There are no movie theaters or bowling alleys. There’s not even any decent bars (not that I would hang out in one)! We’ve been there and done just about everthing there is to do in our area. When we expanded into the vacant lot next to us, it wasn’t so much about expanding our homesite as it was having something exciting to do. Actually, it was absolution in disquise as it kept me busy for nearly 6 months. When the construction was finished, I felt both a sense of relief and anxiety… “Now what?” I would sometimes think.

While there is still allot to accomplish on the homefront, it will get done in time and as money allows. Until then… what will I do? In a much older penned post Paradise Can Kill! … I laid out my thoughts and ideas about how I would have a plan to stay busy living in the Philippines. It was a good plan, but just as the world turns, plans change and get altered. Age and health also play an important role in determining the activites that will keep you busy, and healthy here.

I Won’t Lie To You…

… but looking back on the last year or so living full time in the Province, I literally ran out of things to do to keep me busy (many things didn’t interest me any longer). My fishing kayak was on the hard (meaning parked) because there were not many fish that I could challenge. I even stopped fishing from the shore. I stopped playing tennis because of the physical torment to my body. I’ve snorkeled the only barely-living reef near Calbayog City that is worth seeing (several times). My mountain bike became all rusted (living next to the ocean) and I gave it away to someone who had the courage and will to bastardize it and keep it working. My golf clubs grew dusty as there are no golf courses nearby. I transferred my motorcycle to my brother-in-law as my driving skills and reflexes gradually deteriorated. (I’m happy to admit I did that before I became completely inept and hurt myself.)

My dream of bringing outdoor racquetball to fruition here failed on several fronts (three promises made, all welched upon) and it was the construction on the homefront that replaced all that kept me busy previously. Now that the construction has come to an end (for now), there was little left to do… except blog and vlog… and consume adult beverages. And that is just too seditary for me. Life was becoming eerily similar to “Groundhog Day” (the movie) and I was approaching the early onset of burnout.

Boredome in paradise
Paradise can be boring somedays!

New Paradise, New Promises!

Since arriving on the island of Guam, I have since been able to reverse the doldrums. There is much more here to fill up my retirement schedule where I seem to always be busy. Just this last two weeks are a good example: An old friend and co-worker of mine that was stationed here on Guam with me back in the late 70’s brought his wife to the island so she could experience it for herself.  He had bragged so much about Guam and the tropical life to her for years that she made him bring her here for their 30th anniversary.  Re-united with Mike after nearly 40 years, we met up for some good food and reminiscing. We hit some popular tourist spots, went snorkeling a few times and went deep sea fishing. We also did a bonnie stomp (as it is called here) to a secluded island beach. I was still able to hit the gym a half dozen times and bowl with my sweetheart twice weekly. We also found the time to take in a movie at the local cinema. It was a busy couple weeks and there was little to no time left for even a single round of golf!

The difference between our two paradises is large. Because Guam is a small island, it is very well developed and has everything to offer as compared to the provincial living experienced at home in the Philippines, where that hammock still awaits me. I’m sure if we were living closer to or in Manila or Cebu, there would be much more to do to help us occupy our time and keep us busy. (The not-so-subliminal message here is to choose your retirement location wisely!) The Philippines however, still offers me that laid back, easy-going lifestyle and I miss it now and then.

It’s Hard Doing Nothing, Then Having To Rest Aftwards!

Next month we will be coming home to Samar for an extended stay. After a lengthy stay on Guam, I almost feel like I need a rest. But how is it that one could need a rest from living in paradise?  I guess it will simply be an exchange one paradise for the other – for a while – until I’m ready to trade back again. The cost to trade one paradise for the other… about $280.

There are two basic suggestions that I can offer to make your life in the Philippines more rewarding: 1) Never base your settlement location solely on suiting your wife’s family, and 2) Try to choose a location that will accomodate your desired lifestyle. In other words, do not trade all the those things you enjoy doing for the first two perfectly spaced coconut trees you find suitable for a hammock!

There are perfectly spaced trees everywhere in the Philippines!

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