We were deep into the lush forest. Electricity was absent from the wooden huts that made up the resident's dwelling. Everything was ruled by nature here. Fires smoked the air as the locals burned piles of paper. Not exactly the best clean air practice, but if you headed a bit further into the middle of nowhere, away from it all, you could inhale and fill your lungs with the purest air possible.
We were about 3 hours into our hike through Bantad, having just walked along the Ifugao Rice Terraces, a UNESCO Heritage Site. The simplistic beauty of the land set the tone for a day of good exercise and good company.
Eric, our tour guide, was a local Batad resident and made this trek regularly as his job. Ella and Inbal were cousins, Israeli tourists who had decided that the Philippines would be a better destination than Thailand.
We continued pushing ourselves up and down steps, around different sides of the mountain, til we heard it: the constant whoosh of the waterfall.
In our excitement of freedom, Jeff and I ran down to the rocks to go swim. Water effortlessly free-falled off the cliff and collided with the emerald-teal surface, creating bubbling waves. Standing in the water looking up, the mist seemed to be suspended in the air in slow motion. Truly cool refreshment.
In the moment, I let out a triumphant roar. The sweat, the aches and the heat were all worth it.
An oasis paradise far from civilization, so beautiful it was humbling.
In the land of machetes and shotguns, God was still king.
A blog on my continuing journey through life, covering self-development and success strategies, but also personal reflection.