As a kid, Castor and Pollux, the ‘heads’ of the constellation Gemini, were two of my favorite stars to gaze at. I read an awful lot about stars and constellations and the universe – at least a lot than what you’d expect a little girl would know. I was probably ten when I went to a camp that had a brief star gazing activity. When someone directed me to Gemini, I had never forgotten how it looked like.
Back then, they must’ve thought I was quite different – reading science encyclopedias instead of children’s stories, completing my origami books instead of running with the other kids on the street. Maybe I had that faculty of wonder. I always watched the night sky in awe and jotted down every planet, star and constellation I could spot. While everyone else in class studied the planets orbiting the sun, I studied the moons orbiting each of the planets just to make sure I had advanced knowledge of the universe. One day, an older kid at school saw my planets and stars list. She picked on me and laughed at how ambitious, how great a dreamer I was. From that day on, I kept my fascination of the universe to myself.
I grew up an ordinary girl, probably not so special in not so many ways. I first learned to play the guitar when I was fourteen. My brother went to music school and brought home notes and lesson sheets he never reads. I read them and eventually learned guitar playing by the book – not so much by the ear. I had that stereotypical feeling, probably every teenager does, and music was my only escape. Sometimes I pretend I was a great musician. Other times I add tunes to my poems and be a song writer. I was none of both – I just didn’t know how to sing at all. Eventually I played the bass guitar, played with some of the girls in my high school and listened to lots of pop punk and 80’s punk.
While in a band, I organized a concert for a cause with other local bands in our city where an NGO helped with the in-betweens of the event. From there on, I have become a volunteer of that NGO the only one I really claim to be a member of. We were the youth arm of an even bigger environmental activist group whose main agenda was to educate the youth with the causes and impacts of climate change and our countermeasures to speed down, if not totally eradicate, this almost irreversible phenomena. I might have probably been my most dynamic self during my involvement in our NGO. I did public speaking in schools, mall and events. I did a lot of photo exhibits and non-motorized rides. Most of all, it was during this time that I found interest in traveling.
While I have, yes, gone from an ordinary feeling-stereotyped kid to a really enthusiastic adventurer and environmental activist, my family really expected of me to graduate college. So there I was, an engineering student with tons of extra unrelated activities. I did my first climb when I was sixteen. It was in a mountain many people would still label as “major climb”. I didn’t know what climbing or hiking was until it happened. And when it did, I was a well-taught student of experience, the best teacher. I did many other climbs after that, all of which I am hoping to be able to write about. I learned backpacking, basic mountaineering, among others.
I was still a student during the peak of my climbing days and I was broke at least most of the time. Hence the name, Shoestring Xayd. I did a part time job in a call center which provided me both my daily rations to school and just enough for a weekend climb. It was tough but it sure did extend my tolerance to being awake most of the day – or even night.
The advent of travel blogs have paved the way to making traveling a trend. Cheap promotional flights have extended accessibility to even the remotest barrio on earth. The rise of DSLRs have slumped the prices of point-and-shoots, thus making online sharing of trips a lot easier. The advancing means of communications have connected us to whichever, wherever, whenever, however we want to be connected to all at real time.
Sadly, however, some travel writers or maybe opinion writers often criticize this scenario. Making traveling as though a competition, influence of Amazing Race, maybe? Trying to prove that they are better travelers than someone who just clicked a promo flight on cebupacificair.com or read a very detailed weblog.
Traveling is for everyone. Even pre-civilized men traversed land to search for food, shelter, companionship and whatnots. It’s a way of freeing the soul for some, or maybe others are just out to get some tan lines. Whatever reasons, we may know of it or not, as long as you keep an open heart and mind wherever you go, there will always be a sense of fulfillment in the end.
I may not have become the astronaut I dreamed so much as a kid, but who knows, maybe some day Philippine Airlines’ Airbuses would have inter galactic flights to the moon? Or maybe I could just step outside and look for my old friends Castor and Pollux in the night sky.
Keep learning. Keep wondering. Keep wandering.
Maybe fly a hot air balloon? Or tramp with your shoestrings?