Every traveler knows how it feels. When you fall in love with a place, you come to appreciate it on so many levels. The natural beauty, the smells, the sounds, the smiles. You’ve connected with the locals, you’ve made friends that will remain close to your heart. It’s sad saying “Good bye”. You don’t know if it’s a “Good bye forever” or a “See you again some time”. You hope it’s the latter. But you never know. If you’ve had your share of travels and good byes, you understand that places and people change. Nothing in life is set, there are no guarantees.
Despite everything, the travel bug that bit you says “The show must go on”. It’s almost out of your control, you have to continue your journey. Even when you’re in a place you love, the very idea of a new adventure gets your heart pounding faster, gives you butterflies and causes your imagination to run wild. Yes, there are uncertainties. The next destination could make you yearn for that place you fell in love with, became comfortable with. But those uncertainties also excite you.
There’s a powerful desire to discover what’s over the mountain, across the sea. You risk disappointment, but you’re not afraid of it. The unknown pulls you like a magnet. Over the mountain or across the sea the next experience-of-a-lifetime might be awaiting, more unforgettable people, more life-long friends.
As someone who hasn’t had a permanent address for most of my adult life I do enjoy the occasional, temporary stability. It’s wonderful knowing my way around and being able to greet most of the people I meet by their names. It was also great that instead of the usual and very irritating “Hey Joe!” (a greeting used towards foreigners in many remote parts of the Philippines) Tanya and I would be greeted with a “Hey Mitch! Hey Tanya!” by almost every child in Barangay Bay-Bay.
I’ve stayed in the small town of San Joaquin for five weeks now and it is very safe to say that I have fallen in love with this place. It has all the “ingredients” that I value, beautiful scenery, the sea, warm, smiling locals, great food and of course I’ve made a few wonderful friends.
In the back of my mind, I always ask myself the question “Could I stay here? Could I make this place home?” I don’t know if I’m wired to remain anywhere long though, at least at this stage of my life. There’s something absolutely irresistible about being on the road, about new experiences, about the unknown. I’ve taken things slower than ever on this journey, but at the end of the day, as one friend joked, my motorcycle number-plate is the closest thing I have to a permanent address. The thing is, I like it that way.
This morning Tanya and I packed our bags and mounted them onto the motorcycle for the first time in five weeks. Part of the road out of town was already familiar to us, we rode it to the nearby Barangay Bay-Bay countless times during our stay. But we never took the part of the road that forked off into the mountains. Today, as we set off for our new destination, we did, and to the irritating sound of “Hey Joe!” from surprised passers-by, we were in unknown territory again.
Every traveler has a place or even a few places that they really fall in love with during their journeys. Places which have a special place in their heart, which are particularly tough to say good bye to. What’s yours?