Several years have elapsed since we last revised our bucket list. Our recent hot air balloon ride prompted us to take another look. The first few years after we had penned this list on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, we updated it regularly, ticking off completed adventures and adding new life goals. We slowed down considerably after having kids. The last time we updated the list we were still a family of three. A lot of water under the bridge, and yet not a lot has changed in the intervening years.
Posts tagged ‘Asia’
It’s the middle of June, temperatures routinely flirt with 100 degrees, and locals and visitors alike can be seen seeking refuge at Oak Creek swimming holes and Sedona’s crowded watering holes. A small handful of people wear masks, but by and large life here appears to have snapped back almost fully to the pre-pandemic normal. The contrast to the ghost town we had encountered when we arrived in Sedona a couple of months ago could not be starker. An uninformed observer might be forgiven for surmising that this corner of the country has been untouched by the pandemic. Unfortunately, quite the contrary is true.
When S received her assignment to Manila two years ago, we rejoiced at the opportunity to spend a couple of years at one of the most sought after posts in Asia. The Philippines is a beautiful country in its own right, and we were excited to use it as springboard to explore the region’s many wonders. After spending ten months in the Philippines and one-and-a-half months back in the States, we are dreading our eventual return and recently advised a friend to think long and hard about pursuing an assignment to Manila. This is not a knock against the country – we loved our time in the Philippines before the pandemic; rather, this a reflection of the bleak state of affairs there following the outbreak.
Arizona’s stay-at-home order expired today, with gyms, spas, movie theaters, and other businesses receiving the green light to resume operations “so long as appropriate health precautions are in place.” It’s unclear what that last clause means or how it would be enforced, if at all. Arizona is by no means an outlier; roughly two-thirds of our fifty states are moving in the same direction, dire warnings from public health experts about reopening too soon notwithstanding.
Last month we wrote about the dissonance of being Americans in the Philippines during the pandemic. Three weeks have now elapsed since our return to the States, but that feeling remains. We have kept a close eye on developments in Manila even as we settled into a new routine in Sedona. In addition to global trends, the Philippine government’s approach to reopening the country will dictate when we might be able to return – or if we can go back at all.
Of the many factors we had considered in deciding whether to evacuate from the Philippines, the one that weighed on us heaviest was our kids’ emotional wellbeing. As it is, the Foreign Service lifestyle is hard on the little ones. When they’re young, like Junebug was during our last couple of moves, they don’t know any better. Munchkin, however, is of an age at which continuous dislocations cause some emotional scarring. He took the transition from Washington to Manila very hard, and to a certain degree we are still dealing with its aftershocks. Beyond the obvious and ongoing trauma of extended social distancing, we wondered how our kids would react to being uprooted abruptly.
Compared to how slowly the quarantine days in Manila dragged by, our first week in Sedona has flown by in a flash. Partly because we’ve endeavored to spend as much time as possible outdoors to make up for our weeks of privation and partly because the only way we can keep up with our jobs is to work late after the kids go to bed, our days have been considerably fuller than they were in the Philippines.
The circumstances of our departure from Manila left a bit of a sour taste in our mouth. It’s hard to reconcile how relieved we are to be back in the States with how much we had enjoyed the first nine months of our assignment in the Philippines. Just a month before the virus hit, for example, we spent a long weekend in Bohol – our last taste, for now, of the country’s many natural wonders.
After three long weeks of slow-moving days that seemed to bleed into each other, our last few days in the Philippines were hectic as we scrambled to tie up loose ends and set our affairs in order. Finding someone to keep an eye on the apartment and serve as our proxy was easy, but we also had a few errands to run, which proved no easy feat in light of Manila’s enhanced community quarantine.