Up to the minute that I placed our single backpack in the car at 4 am, I had qualms about joining a party of four on a 12-hour sojourn to Bicol. Just ten hours ago, my daughter was running a raging fever already on its third day, her eyes and nose runny- from pollen allergy, we surmise.
We were making the trip for our grandmother, or May, as we call her in her native Bicolano dialect, who is on the last quarter of her life. Your lola might not make it till next year, my mother said. A visit is needed now more than ever.
|Happy even when sick. As long as she’s on the road.
Twelve hours. I imagined the minutes would stretch like infinity with a half-recuperating toddler in tow, especially in a semi-cramped five-seater Civic. There were the three of us siblings and our offspring, and my mother behind the wheel squealing her best on-drive cuss. It’s total chaos.
“Are we there yet?”
These and constant sighs dominated the air as we drove past clutches of mountains, desolate farms, quiet rural towns and Quezon’s sparkling blue seas. But from my seat by the car window, it was the most soul-soothing road trip I’ve had in recent years (thanks in part to Benadryl, which kept my daughter spectacularly quiet and smiley all throughout. That or she really is a wanderlust).
Often when we arrive at our destinations, we get preoccupied with snapping away at pretty spots so we could take home a piece of those. These long sub-journeys, these in-betweens allow us to slow down and experience just being.
Then traveling transformed from being a mere means of transporting bodies from one location to another to a means of enriching the soul. I shut my eyes and remembered this is why I love road trips however long over comfy seats in bullet-fast planes.
Of course there were the misadventures. The car ran out of freon at sweltering 10am. We got stuck in a two-hour night traffic in Naga and had to get by on my mother’s poor night vision and constant yelling to Albay. Dinner was served at 10pm. The forecasted 12-hour drive became 16.
Was it all worth it? Hell yeah.
In the end, the journey really isn’t entirely about the destination. It’s the getting there.
|Gotta love that billboard. Camarines Sur, dusk.
Read up the rest of our Bicol trip series: