It’s such a hassle.
I don’t like the sun.
I’d rather watch television/read books..
It’s too expensive.
When I was younger I thought that these things I’ll come to understand as I get older. In my young mind, I thought that perhaps there’s wisdomin these reasons for not discovering new places, faces. I was sure that with experience I will somehow be enlightened and see things the way these ‘homebodies’ perceive travel.
Now I’m old enough, I still don’t understand people’s reluctance to get out of their comfort zone and see what lies beyond the bend. What puzzled me when I was younger, still puzzles me until now.
Before my eyes were opened to the practical realities of life, I never imagined that I would be in the profession I am now (FYI, I am an accountant). I dreamt of designing big things, big houses that would somehow try and reach out to the sky. Food was something that automagically appears on the dining table. I have no sense of the financial processes that led to that food being on the table.
My life turned upside down when an uncle visited our house driving a sparkling red box-type Nissan California. I asked my dad why we don’t have one. I was told that we don’t have enough money to buy one and my uncle had plenty. I then asked why my uncle has a lot of money and we don’t. Dad said uncle was an accountant. I saw my glass buildings and towering houses fall into pieces and replaced by a man hunched over a desk, a calculator in hand, and pockets bulging with cash. At 9 years old, I decided I want my own Nissan California, and if it means I have to be an accountant, then so be it.
Although the previous paragraph was a segue of some sort, illustratingmy childhood dreams in a supposedly travel related essay, what I didn’t mention was apart from building my glass towers in the sky, what I really wanted, what I really enjoyed, was going on the road.
I was barely 3 months old when I first travelled from one town to another. My mother then had eloped with my father (to my grandfather’s chagrin) and they had to be constantly moving as my grandpa was actively looking for them. You might say that I got my wanderlust even before I was baptized.
My mother (bless her soul) instilled in me a deep love for travel. Every summer, she would pressure my father to give her money so we could all go home to our province in Northern Mindanao. As we were then living in the Southern part of Mindanao, that trip to our grandparents took us 15 hours one way. And we did that every year. Year after year, my mother, father, myself, and two other siblings took the very crowded ordinary bus to Davao, take another bus to Butuan, and then a jeepney and a tricycle to my grandpa’s place.
Sometimes, we would take our Aunt’s jeepney, pack it with a whole lot of relatives and off we’d go to Butuan. The travel would be so much longer, but we’d have our lunches and meriendas in whatever stream or river that we’d pass by. Needless to say, my mother was in the front seat, grinning her sweet big grin.
Even weeks before her death, my mother never stopped travelling. She travelled one time from Butuan to South Cotabato even when her vital organs were failing. She still reached her destination but she had to go straight to the hospital.
Somehow those years of travelling with my family influenced me greatly towards always, always taking the time to do some travelling every year. Perhaps it’s an acquired habit and those poor folks who never really liked travelling may have been landlocked or apartment-locked when they were little. Perhaps their old folks shunned travel as well, hence they too were abhorred by the idea of leaving their tiny little space.
And this is quite sad.
When I transferred here in Manila because of work necessities, I was appalled that a lot of folks have never even been to another province; 20-something people who have only gone to Batangas or Tagaytay. I felt terribly sad for these folks. These are the same folks who mentioned the excuses I listed above.
Travelling is a lot like life. There are things beyond those that we usually do that are just waiting for us to do them. And as such, there are places other than the city we live in that are just waiting to be visited and discovered. With the improvement of today’s transportation routes (no matter how much we try to downplay this fact, you should have seen the roads when I was a little kid travelling) going places should be relatively easy. And if you want to go cheapo, there are ways to do that too!
There are also some folks who take pride in the fact that they’ve already been to other countries. They brag about going to Phuket and Bali and Sentosa, and yet they’ve never even set foot in El Nido, or Puerto Galera, or Cebu even.
They say that for you to be able to appreciate what you lack, you have to go out of your normal routes, go to strange places, and see what those places offer so you can make a clear comparison. The only problem with this is that if you haven’t really explored your own place, how can you make an objective assessment? How can you say that Phuket is so much better than such and such when you’ve never been to such and such.
I’ve been to Phuket and I’ve tried almost all the tours they have there. I’ve sailed on long-tailed boats and rode shotgun on super fast speed boats. I’ve waded in that strip of beach where Leonardo DiCaprio swam in The Beach. And you know what? Phuket doesn’t hold a candle to El Nido. Friends who were able to visit Bali said that it pales in comparison to Palawan.
The point here is, this country, our country, has so much to offer and it’s such a shame that we don’t take advantage of our proximity to visit these wonderful places. It would be unfortunate if at the time you stood before St. Peter and he asks you where you’ve been, and you can only say that you’ve only been to your couch, but sometimes you venture to your kitchen as well.
Remember, life is not just measured in years, it’s also measured in the number of miles you’ve travelled. A life less travelled, is a life less lived.
credits: photo New Mexico by Wolfgang Staudt