I have very few friends. But the few that I have are planets: cosmic and uncontainable. The nomad whose roots originated on a huge house on the far end of a tree-lined driveway in Dumaguete, for example. He burns brighter than Mercury. The hobo from Iloilo on the other hand, wears Earth on her skin. She chases shades under trees with tens, hundreds of hands outstretched.
Compared to them, I am a lesser superhero. Because while I am selfless for family, they are to community.
WHERE DO TRAVELERS WITH BROKEN HEARTS GO. In a faraway continent a few years back, a lady named Liz had an epiphanic bathroom moment that consequently sent her packing to worlds farthest from hers in pursuit of the self she lost.
On July 2, 2004, I wrote my first blog entry for Tabulas from a 20-peso per hour internet cafe. I will always remember that day for it unearthed a passion I never knew I had. Back then, when blogging was more passionate than it was strategic, I found my happy place.
When I eventually decided not to pursue the degree I studied years for, the link to my blog was the only arsenal I armed myself while traversing the big mad world. And I slew.
Blogging provided an avenue for me to bare my spirit without the pressure of awkward real-life introductions. I was led to friends of like mind, of people with whom I shared the madness with.
Together, we called ourselves The Solar System. Together, we unraveled life while weaving art over coffee, Redhorse and sometimes, Marlboro lights. We explored islands, conquered cities and dreamt of, until now, unrealized Batanes.
Then matters of consequences happened. I left the country and took on a job that didn’t inspire as much writing. But I earned well. I earned well enough to buy myself tickets to everywhere. I took advantage of the privilege of having the currency to pursue a passion at whim. Traveling became the rock I held on to when making a living didn’t necessarily mean making a life.
Since then, my blogs slowly evolved into travelogues and narratives. My poetry began to take root from the imageries of places I’ve been to. Not only did I redeem myself by traveling, It also allowed me plenty of brooding. As the whole world spun madly on, I kept pace by rereading my archives (to understand) , writing continuously (to grow), and seeing as much of the world possible (to live).
Years passed and I went on wayfaring. I went on until things began to be more traveling than writing; more of the present than the past; more creating than mending. It was in the spirit of this awakening that one day, I decided to break free from all that was going on to pay the happiness forward to the world.
On October 15, 2011, I overhauled what was then a dumping blog of prose, poetry, photographs and turned it into a still personal, but more travel-related blog. My first post was a letter addressed to Kathmandu, a Kiwi Outdoor Adventure shop, after a shopping spree in preparation of my quick Southeast Asian escape later that year.
One day, while surfing the internet for ideas on how to kickstart a travel blog, I came across Ron and Monette’s Flip’nTravels. Right then and there, I was enlightened by the reckoning that yes– to move, to remind, to inspire and to have people relate to my travels like how Flipn’Travels resonated with me, that’s what I wanted. For days, I found myself digging up their archives, kicking myself for only knowing them then. Eventually, they led me to Pinoy Travel Bloggers. I wasn’t surprised I saw my friends Aileen, Marcos and Yowee in the group. I’ve known them to be wayfarers ever since.
Not knowing who he was to the travel community then, Journeying James added me to the group. But it was The Pinay Travel Junkie, GayE, who added me on her friends list first. When I think of it now, I cannot help but be proud, that it was actually PTB’s most famous who welcomed me first.
For a time there, it was hard to point a finger to the source of my euphoria– finding a community of vagabonds as travel-hungry as myself, girl crushing Gay Mitra-Emami, or being secretly thrilled by the fact that James Betia was (and still is) single.
It was humbling how, instead of imparting the ultimate travel experience to the world, the world imparted the same to me. Same, but different. The Rashomon Effect. It is by such principle that travel blogging is made possible– we see the same places, but we always tell different stories. It is in this fashion that a world so small like ours, is made bigger, boundless.
As for me, the wanderlust has just been rippling since. I am afflicted, and there is no cure.
Bungy jumping in New Zealand had been in everybody’s bucket lists long before “bucket list” became a household term. Traveling to NZ isn’t complete without a bungee jump, may it be in Queenstown or in Taupo. NZ tourism sure knows how to couple extreme activities with paradise-like nature as backdrop.
Just over a fortnight after I got married, the X and I drove over to the North Island’s adventure capital, Taupo, to jump off the edge. 47 meters high and no turning back, it was the single bravest thing I have done in all my 27 years. The X chickened the last minute and decided he couldn’t do it. But I, at only 5 feet 4 and 55 kgs, took on the challenge like it was no different to the age-old cliff jumping I used to do as a kid back in my mum’s hometown of Iloilo.
Water has always been my comfort zone. Nearly 50m below from where I stood, the mighty Waikato River, in all its almost-frozen glory, had its arms outstretched. It enticed, promising liberation.
In less than a month’s time, the X and I will be relocating to another country with hopes of good fortune. Until I make that jump, I could never really claim I have lived in New Zealand. In addition, If I really desire to travel the world like I say I do, it is only just to explore my backyard first and do the very things other travelers come here for.
As the Bungee crew gear me up for the plunge, my eyes trailed to the viewing deck. I saw the X, the in-laws, a bunch of other people who couldn’t make up their minds if they’d also jump or not and many others who knew in their hearts that they never can do such feat.
Then it happened. I was asked to stand on the edge, look up to the camera above for posterity, and savor the picturesque reality of New Zealand: whitewashed cliffs, a lake that was all shades of blue, lush forests and long white clouds. There was only one way for me to take all of it in: succumb to gravity.
It was so fast there was no time to entertain fear. The next thing I felt was the rope pulling my feet and for the first time ever, I saw the whole world upside down. It still was just as beautiful.
I grinned from ear to ear, knowing that I have conquered something that was far more than what it looked like it was. It wasn’t only a jump, it was a manifestation of how fiercely brave my heart is. I did myself a favor; I made the whole world hold their breaths.
The tide was almost always low in the afternoons, as if the sea was a pair of palms pleading for the skies. Half of my barrio’s women were seashell gatherers and the other half were fishmongers. I was the odd child caught in between realities of the mundane, of survival.
My task, I felt, was to dream on behalf of those who couldn’t afford the luxury of reverie, the gift of marvel.