Monday, May 27, 2013

Finding Neverland

Across the teal seascape lies an island not far from the port. Locals say the sandbar is uninhabited, and tourists set foot on its white sands to enjoy an unobstructed view of the ocean. To get there, one must rent a boat. And for a sum - a little cheaper than a one-way bus ticket to Manila - backpackers are allowed a night's stay to camp, and enjoy the outback.

Seen from the pier at San Vicente, a short hop on a boat and off I separate from the mainland - the first in ages. But I chose to stay behind because it was getting late. I have to return to the hotel before dark. Arriving at the town that same morning, I only have a day to look around. For at daybreak, I am bound to catch a bus in Tuguegarao that will bring me home.

I would look at the picture above and remember; sitting quietly at one of the berthing rings and observe the fisher folks haul provisions they will bring upon their return to the sea. I remember walking towards the water's edge, to spot smoke trails on the verdant Palauig Island across the channel. I remember catching my breath, every time I get reminded of the distance I have covered; of the fact that I am staring at the vast expanse separating me from Batanes; of literally being at the periphery, with my eyes cast on the blue horizon.

The endlessness seemed to be within reach.

There are vestiges of memory that I wish to put into words - like braving the neighborhood with my laptop inside my bag, or the chocolate-skinned women staring at me with those curious eyes, or the saffron sunset, making a grand farewell before a gathering of clouds.

In retrospect, I regret that I rushed back home; that I should have spared another day looking around and learning; that the trip should have been more about me, and my journey towards self-discovery.

But the purpose of the trip was achieved, and I dove into the cradle, having a little more faith in what will can accomplish. The escapade will be a stuff of tales still weaved years after it was first spun. Despite the heart no longer having the strength to wander far from home, the memory is still fresh like it happened just yesterday

And yet, recollections resurface with the gentle touch of wind, and my thoughts carry me to that same port, looking at the empty stretch of road, tracing my beginnings. I want to return, this time for reasons of indulgence; a hearty treat for the little explorer in me. For old time's sake, knowing i'd no longer be as bold as youth can afford. It will be a fitting send off, for the world might no longer be in my head.

There goes the memory of Santa Ana - the land jutting out of the valley of Cagayan. It would be the last great escape, before I sunk back into obsolescence, and for years, the proud bastion of madness taking up residence in my guts. I have been asked, time and again to hop on a plane, a bus or even a boat; to see places never before seen. Friends offer companionship. Strangers willing to be my travel buddies. But what words fail to speak, I will now put down in letters:

Leaving my footprints elsewhere has always been an intimate experience. 

I will run away one of these days, unannounced and planned in secrecy. And until I have my fill; until my heart grows weary of devouring what my eyes have yet to see, I shall be unbound. The memories I will gather will be my selfies.

And like the sandbar at the middle of the sea, there remains a part of me, untouched and untamed. I will stay obscure and distant, until the neverland in me is found.


rudeboy said...

"For old time's sake knowing i'd no longer be as bold as youth can afford."

I was just going to comment on how I miss going on unscheduled sorties into strange places on short notice like this. Then I saw that statement above, and rued the loss of the boldness of my youth.

Life and age will make demands on our time and fearlessness that will make such short sojourns less and less, until they have to be scheduled before they decline into impossibility.

That's a beautiful place; I wish I could see it, too. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

Wander far, wander often while you can, JM.

Pepe said...

Mugen, one of these days, I will visit these places you mentioned- Cagayan and Batanes- and I will write a different story. These destinations are on my bucket list and hopefully, I can fulfill the Cagayan visit this coming quarter. There are plenty of promising destinations in Cagayan that I hope to visit.