Birthday surprises with old and new friends.

I’ve already written a bit about my birthday, but it’s my birthday and I’ll double post about it if I want to.

Unfortunately I was unable to bite into the delicious cake that Rebecca made me, but I was given a second cake surprise in El Nido (and before that, an adventure). Like many of my stories, this one is long and rambling – grab a tea and get ready for some nonsense.

The night before my birthday was our first night in El Nido. We started out strong, taking a chartered plane to the small airport just north of El Nido. It was pretty darn fancy – with a red carpet and everything. The airport in El Nido is mostly intended for people arriving to stay at super fancy/expensive resorts (aka not us), so it has a small choir awaiting visitors, along with lovely scenery and snacks. Check the photos below.

Once settled in, myself and Kevin, along with my friend Anne and our new friend Loc (her former colleague who happened to arrive in El Nido on the same flight as us) spent the evening eating and drinking on the beach. At a certain point, Kevin, in total Kevin-styles, wandered off and made friends with some nearby women from Manila.

When Anne and Loc each retired to their respective cottages, Kevin and I ended up spending the rest of our night with his two new friends, Carmela and Diana. Before the night was over, we made plans to meet the next day (my birthday) for dinner.

(This is the tangent part of the story) After we said our goodbyes, Kevin and I embarked on the most treacherous walk of all time. In El Nido, electricity is a limited commodity, so our rural road walk from the beach to our cottage was a poorly lit to say the least. It didn’t help that we weren’t smart enough to bring a flashlight, there was a new moon (aka no moon), and it had rained that day. So, we grabbed each other’s hands, and slowly shuffled along a 600 metre rural road – a winding road that takes you past beach, farms, and a cemetery. El Nido is probably the most remote place I’ve ever been, so this walk was full of unfamiliar and occasionally terrifying sounds. For the most part, we walked in complete darkness, looking toward a small light in the far distance to guide us. When we were almost home,  I heard a strange noise, and we realized there were two cows on the road ahead of us. I was prepared to just stop and wait until they left (5 minutes previous I had considered just turning around and sleeping on the beach), but Kevin grabbed a giant stick and tapped a fence to scare them away. He then proceeded to make much noise for the rest of the walk, until we made it back – safe, and very relieved. Technically this occurred on my birthday – believe me when I say I’ve never begun a birthday with such an adventure.

Flash forward to the next day: we woke up in paradise, and then went on a boat tour (more on that later). That night, Anne, Kevin, Loc, and myself made our way to Altrove, where Carmela, Diana, and their friends Jackie and Joel were awaiting us at a table for 8. As dinner was wrapping up, I suggested going elsewhere for dessert, but was quickly told that dessert had been pre-ordered. Ten minutes later, I was shocked when the lights went off and people began singing “happy birthday”. I actually thought “oh, fun! it’s someone’s birthday”, and turned around to see whose it was. Turns out, it was my birthday! Cake, gelato, and tears soon followed.

I was completely taken by surprise. I spent all day with Kevin, and hadn’t seen him plan this, but that’s because it was actually Diana and Carmela who had spent a good chunk of their day coordinating all of this (at Kevin’s behest). It turns out that the night before, not only had he made 2 new friends, but he had asked them to put together this birthday surprise for me. Surprises and generosity really are the best, and I am so thankful that we’ve made such great new friends (who we’re looking forward to seeing again tomorrow in Manila!)

Birthdays are good, but friends are great.

tl;dr – Heather and Kevin made new friends, and Kevin conspired with them to surprise Heather with a cake at dinner on her birthday. Tears ensued. Photos below! (PS, Mom and Mom’s friends, “tl;dr” means “too long, didn’t read”)

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