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Bohol was magical. Now, if you know anything about Bohol, you know that they are most famous for these unique looking mountains called the “Chocolate Hills” and for being one of the only places that is still home to a tiny primate with gargantuan eyes called, the Tarsier Monkey.

Now don’t get me wrong, seeing those things and taking all of the appropriately angled pictures where I was gently cupping a Chocolate Hill was very fun but really what made it magical was a clear sky of stars, an eclipsed moon and a shooting star the size of a giant rocket. Okay, the entire trip was highly enjoyable but you know those things that kick a memory from the “pleasant” area of the brain to a “highly defined sensory experience” area; stars, eclipse and shooting star did the trick.

Everything Manila is; crowded, polluted, busy, traffic, and urban, well, Bohol is not. That is why a dinner at a stunning organic farm to table restaurant at a bee-farm-turned-hotel-and-restaurant-on-the-ocean, set up the perfect elements to create magic. After a spicy flower salad, squash bread with pesto and honey butter and ridiculous ube and coconut ice cream, left me primed and ready for an ocean side star gazing session.

Do you every forget how much you missed something until you experience it again? (Much apologies to my family, but this is very much always the case for me with them) Well, I saw stars, and man did I miss them.  Anna (the Kiwi), Genie (our Canadian travel writer friend) and I spent nearly an hour guessing at what little astronomy we remembered for the north vs south hemisphere, as well as debating whether or not we could actually stare at the lunar eclipse occurring without burning our retinas out. We never really came to a conclusion as we were distracted by perhaps the biggest, most briliant shooting star known to man.  True magic.

The other enjoyable pieces of this journey was a recipe of a girl named Anna (the Kiwi) and a guy name Jonas. Anna was a former Kiva Fellow I happened to stumble upon on the Couchsurfing.org website and Jonas was her highly entertaining and generous neighbor who was always ready and at my service.  The cool thing about Anna is that even beyond her 3 month fellowship at CEVI microfinance institution in Bohol, she has stayed because she believes in creating economic opportunities for Bohol neighbors. She left her civil engineering job with stints in Manila and Davao, to be in Bohol and create an awesome homestay business that will bring job opportunity and awareness into the Bohol region.

Anna’s vested interest in Bohol has helped her form awesome relationships in Bohol and that is how I met Jonas. In his forties, Jonas lost his government job due to an administration change and now you can see him just roaming over to Anna’s house everyday just to be productive and serve his neighbor. Jonas is a Bohol local and so he offered his time to show me the sites of the beautiful island. In addition to his time, I got the joy of an open air motorbike ride and an inside connection to the staff of every stop we happened upon.  A 700 stair climb to the lookout of the Chocolate Hills, a coconut juice and bee farm stop later, I would say I met a good friend.

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