The road trip that led to love and new beginnings
Real life can be pretty draining, that’s why camping or going to the beach is my respite from all its craziness. I spent my weekends as an escape from a day job that I took no pleasure in, but eventually, I decided to cut out that toxic part of my life and enter the world of freelancing. It was risky and terrifying, but it was something I felt that I needed to do. I’m not going to lie: A big part of me wanted to revel in the surprising joys of unemployment.
Instead of my usual let’s-go-before-work-happens kind of trip, I was tiptoeing on the thrill of starting new, just as we were about to enter the New Year.
I was ready for all kinds of possibilities: places to explore and people to meet.
As if by chance, I was invited by my friends from Tripda Philippines to join them on their RoadTripda to La Union. Many of their friends, some hailing from different countries, were joining the trip. To give a bit of background, Tripda, a start-up company from Brazil, is a carpooling social network that connects passengers and car owners that are taking the same route. I usually travel with a close friend or my barkada or even alone, occasionally meeting strangers along the way, but to share an entire weekend with people I barely (if at all) knew struck me as something new and exciting. I saw the trip as a sort of immersion; an immersion with different people of varied cultures and interests.
We all met in Makati the following morning. Over coffee, I had the chance to meet everyone joining the road trip before we all hopped in our cars and took the long road to the North. A few hours of stopovers, stolen naps, and well-curated playlists later, we finally reached La Union.
All of us spent the rest of the day by the beach either playing Frisbee or volleyball, talking and drinking beer, learning from each other things we wouldn’t have otherwise known if it weren’t for this trip. When faced with a crowd, I sometimes get a bit anxious so I tend to stay close to those I’m familiar with. During this trip, however, I learned that making new friends while traveling is just as gratifying as getting comfortable with your closest pals. Little did I know that by the end of the day, I would find myself deep in conversation with one particular guy that turned from one thing to another.
Leon and I have been acquainted for some time through common friends, but we never really talked for more than a few minutes before the trip happened. It was funny how short conversations turned into hours of storytelling, talking about space or dogs or even some of the embarrassing moments in my life, and later realizing that the sun was about to rise. We started heading back to the group early in the morning, still in our clothes the night before; they all stared at us in astonishment. Catching the first hit of sunlight, having had very little sleep, and the sound of the waves still ringing through my ears, I kind of knew that this was the start of something great.
Meeting Leon was very much like seeing an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time: In what seemed like some sort of celebration, everything felt familiar and comforting. And since then, my weekends have definitely become more vibrant, and more importantly, easy. It was one thing to find a really good friend in someone, and it’s another to find a travel companion who shares a similar appreciation for our country and enjoys the spontaneity of last-minute trips. Finding such ease in our connection led to more hikes, camping, and long drives to the beach together.
In a way, I’d tell this road trip story as one where my life started again. Apart from meeting one of the most important people in my life, I also met two talented photographers who I’ve worked with after the trip.
And if travel is like love, it is because travel is an amplified state of consciousness, in which we are aware, open, undimmed by familiarity, and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.