It’s March! And it’s almost the end of another school year and I’m thinking of where to go this summer break. This morning I remembered an essay written by my son last year and I got for his permission to share it with you. So here it is, an article about travel from the mind of a sixteen-year old boy.
Mark Twain said that travel is fatal. It is “fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” For a sixteen year-old living near ricefields and in the distant, the sea, the privilege to travel is life changing. The most recent is our family trip to Western Europe.
What made this trip unique compared to the other places that we have traveled so far was going on a road trip and collecting a lifetime worth of memories in just 45 days.
To experience diverse cultures, marvel at the uniqueness of each city and interact with people of different nationalities – from the castles of England, to the city lights of Paris, to the magnificent architecture of Rome, to the liberal culture of Amsterdam, to the Alps of Switzerland – Europe is one big school.
My first memory was getting lost. My family joined a walking tour around London. While taking pictures, I didn’t realize that everyone stopped for the sights as I kept on walking until I could not find a single familiar face in the crowd. I approached the first policeman I saw and told him that I got lost. According to him, I was the first teenage boy to get lost and ask for his help. We eventually found my dad who, bless him, was wearing a yellow neon jacket in a sea of black peacoat-wearing people, standing on a busy intersection looking for me.
What is important is not being afraid of getting lost but knowing how to find my way back (note to parents: buying a SIM card first thing would definitely help!).
Another memorable part of the trip was going to Portsmouth, a major port in England that reminds me of our own Subic, with my friend, Mac, a mechanical engineer at Jaguar, and his best friend, Elmer, a freelance photographer. Mac’s company was kind enough to lend us an F-Type while in England.
The day started with the three of us having an English breakfast, followed by a photo walk with Elmer. I took it as an opportunity to ask him how to program my DSLR for more creative shots. After the photo walk, we took Mac’s F-Type for a fun run, and what made it really enjoyable was us filming the car being pushed to its limits and really enjoying the gravitational force that it was capable of using Elmer’s Go Pro. We capped our day heading back to London to celebrate binging on McDonalds at Trafalgar Square. It was especially enjoyable considering that most of the food on the menu, like the Big Mac, was about twice the size of what is served in the Philippines.
This seemingly ordinary day spent well taught me how to appreciate and value time.
I consider traveling as one of the most defining moments in my life simply because it broadened my perspective and exposed me to the beauty that surrounds us. I have learned to appreciate the magnificence of ordinary things.
Coming home every time only strengthened my love for my country. I have seen the Alps but I have also walked the terrace fields of the Cordilleras. I swam on the waters of Saint Tropez but was left in awe of Coron.
Lin Yutang could not have said it better: “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”
My greatest lesson: there is no place like home.