Nick Gray: AS A VOLUNTEER THERE IS MUCH WORK TO BE DONE, BUT THERE IS ALSO TIME TO SLACK.
Living “on project”, a day in the life of a LAMAVE volunteer is usually quite busy as there is always work to be done of some sort. Sometimes it’s easy to focus solely on the task at hand and not get out to enjoy what the rest of the island of Cebu has to offer. I find it’s extremely important to unwind and balance the work life with some personal time.
The island of Cebu has many things to offer, especially if you like being outdoors. There are great snorkel spots, hiking trails, waterfalls or resorts to pamper yourself. However for me, I have found extreme enjoyment by simply walking through the local town to an area near the ocean and setting up my slack line in the towns’ largest courtyard area.
For those readers who don’t know what a slack line is, just imagine a combination of tightrope walking and trampoline. The idea is to set up the slack line between two objects (usually trees) then stand on and walk across the line as is bounces up and down underneath you. It’s a pretty fun way to get exercise once you get the hang of it.
No matter where I set up the slack line it has a tendency to draw a crowd of people interested in a sport they’ve never seen before. But here in the Philippines the crowd it creates seems to be larger and more attentive. The first time I set up the slack line, I remember a couple of guys on motorbikes slowing to stop and watch. These guys were then followed by another group walking by and then the local children took notice to what was going on. Before I knew it, there must have been thirty people watching me walk from one end to the other.
Slack lining is an excellent icebreaker when meeting new people. I usually just start with asking the crowd if anyone wants to attempt to walk the line, and most of the time everyone refuses. It takes a couple minutes before the first brave soul will have the courage to be on stage. And the first brave soul this time was a free spirited guy in his early twenties who thought he might have what it takes. Now in my experience, I have seen many people (myself included) walk up to the slack line thinking that they will have some moderate success. And every time I have seen confidence shattered with an epic failure. Unfortunately for the young man, he was no exception and fell hard in front of everyone. The crowd erupted into laughter and from that moment on there was a continuous cue of wannabe slack liners as long as the sun was up.
I set up the slack line several more times in that area of town and found that each time I had less and less time to slack line myself as the children were so excited to take their turn. I didn’t mind so much as I got just as much enjoyment from teaching the art of the slack line as I did just walking it myself. The smiles and laughter coming from these kids made for a far better experience than simply slacking alone and for that I thank the local community. It’s really only now that I have completed my volunteering with LAMAVE that I realize how much I miss slacking in the Philippines. Thanks to all who made it possible.
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