As most of you know, I came home from a recent trip to Norway with a fractured right ankle. When the incident happened, I was at a loss as to how to manage getting around despite the ankle cast and a pair of crutches. Fortunately, […]
March 2003: Hours before my departure for the Philippines and in the midst of last-minute packing, I called my mother to verify my arrival in Manila. Despite the bad phone connection, I sensed that something wasn’t right. She sounded frazzled. She haltingly informed me then […]
“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know.” — Lemony Snicket
More than a month ago, we celebrated the memory of our dear departed. For Filipinos, we do this by visiting their graves, lighting candles and offering prayers, flowers and food. Yeah, the last one might be odd but that was something I distinctly remember when I was young and whenever I accompanied my grandmother to the cemetery during All Souls’ Day. I don’t mean to sound morbid but lately, I’ve been reading on my Facebook newsfeed about people’s loss of a parent or beloved family member and my heart goes out to them. Anyone who have lost someone important know very well that when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love.
I have written before about my experience when I lost my father very suddenly. He’s been gone for over 14 years now but the memory of that time still haunts me. If I may, I would like to share that blog post (edited) for those who have never read it. This could be a bit long so I beg for your patience.
FLASHBACK: When I first I got engaged (update: now divorced) and decided to have the wedding in the States, I immediately worked on obtaining visitor’s visas for my parents and sisters so they can be there for the occasion. I knew it was a long shot but I was optimistic that they will be approved. Unfortunately, their first application was denied. Feeling despondent, I considered the possibility that none of my family will be present on such an important event in my life. My father almost declined to file again, worried about the financial costs it entailed. My mother persuaded him to try again after I told her that I would have to make that trip to the altar by myself as I didn’t feel it would be right for somebody else, other than my father, to give me away. I guess they just couldn’t bear the thought of their daughter looking like a forlorn bride on her wedding day so they hastily reapplied.
Fortunately, the second time was a charm. I was so glad to pick them up at the airport two weeks before the wedding. That was their first time to be out of the country. I showed them around Chicago and watched their faces lit up with amazement from every little thing that they found interesting and different. Finally, the big day arrived. Although we were both nervous, the moment felt perfect when my father and I sauntered to the altar. I couldn’t ask for anything more at that moment.
Weeks later, I was at the airport again, bidding goodbye to my parents. Although I was sad to see them depart, I knew they had a great time during their oh-so-short of a vacation. Little did I know that the time we spent together was one I will forever treasure as it will never be replicated. Almost six months later, I felt homesick and impulsively decided to visit my family. My sisters were pretty bummed out that they didn’t get to be there for my wedding so they looked forward to my coming. In retrospect, it’s as if the trip was designed by some cosmic powers-that-be. Whether you believe in it or not, what followed was just pure kismet and tragic.
To be continued …
TRAVEL ALONE … and see things from a different point of view.
Traveling by myself is nothing new to me. When I was a young girl growing up in the Philippines, I’ve always gone to places unaccompanied or unescorted by an adult. I don’t remember feeling scared or intimidated at all. In fact, I looked forward to those trips and usually volunteered for errands that required travel. My grandmother used to say that I was born to wander because I have moles on the sole of my left foot. I don’t know if there’s validity to her claim but I’ve always felt the urge to leave and go somewhere, anywhere … and the farther, the better. Back then, I just know that I was meant to be anywhere but home. It sounds wrong to say that but that’s how I really felt. Whenever asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, I always answered, “I want to travel the world.” My wish came true, when at the age of 24, I left the Philippines for a nursing job in the US. Thus, began my roaming ways.
Over the years, I have traveled to many places in the US and Europe. I am lucky to be friends with people who are just as interested to see and experience what these wonderful cities and countries can offer. Suffice to say that in those trips, I mostly tagged along and was content to leave most of the planning and logistics to those who were willing to figure things out for the group. As a result, I didn’t pay much attention to the details and didn’t have a lot of input into where to go and what to do. Consequently, I felt that I missed out on a lot of things and places that I might have been interested to explore or experience. To be fair, it wasn’t anybody else’s fault but mine. I should have been more proactive as they were my trips too.
In the recent years, it’s been more challenging to plan trips with people. Our schedules and time-tables were not aligning and we seemed to have differing destinations in mind. I’ve been reading a lot of articles on women traveling solo and the idea became more attractive to me. After giving myself a rousing pep talk about being adventurous and independent, I booked myself a flight to Florence, Italy and went gung-ho on researching and planning. So, on July of 2015, I spent a wonderful week in Florence and Cinque Terre and I can definitely say, that I am now absolutely obsessed and irrevocably addicted to solo travel. That week changed my life in so many ways than I can enumerate here. Perhaps this video can show it better.
Now that I’ve been doing it alone, it’s challenging to go back to traveling with anyone else again unless it’s with someone with a compatible traveling sense. For now, I will be wandering this earth on my own terms and loving every second of it. It might not be for anyone but if you are someone who have thought about it, what’s keeping you from pulling the plug? I’d say stop hedging and overthinking it and just book that flight. Even if it turns out to be not your cup of tea, at the very least, you can say you’ve done it. It’ll still be very much worth it. And if you have traveled solo or is a seasoned solo traveler, please comment below to share your thoughts on this blog post. I would love to hear back from you.