Thursday, June 8, 2017

In-Love

There are places that we cannot help but fall in love with. Those places that upon setting foot on their grounds, we know that it's a place we can call home. Those places that we never want to leave and when we do, we can't help but feel a pang in our hearts. Those places that we never tire of visiting and we keep coming back to.

In my case, La Union, was one of them. I don't exactly know what it is but there is something about eLyU, as it fondly called, that makes me hold it dear in my heart. 

No, it wasn't the beach there because it is only good for surfing and nothing else. I've been to several beaches in the Philippines alone and the beach there was easily not the most beautiful one I've visited. Whenever it is surfing season, the waves can get as high as six feet and the currents can be so strong which may be scary and dangerous at times. For non-surfers, you get the risk of getting hit by surfboards when frolicking near the shores. When the sea is flat, jellyfish flock the shallow waters which is also dangerous. I've seen lots of tourists who got stung by jellyfish and it ain't pretty. So no, it wasn't the beach.

No, it was also not the climate there because it is pretty much the same as the climate in Manila. Even if it is located in the Northern part of the country, it can get really hot there. But it gets worse. Because there were no tall buildings nor tall trees to provide some shade, it can be such a struggle to find refuge from the scorching sun. So no, it wan't the climate.

No, it was not the food there. Don't get me wrong, but I love food-tripping in eLyU but the restaurants there can get really pricey. If you want to spend little on food, you can eat at hole-in-the-wall type of food places but you get nothing special from their dishes. Just the typical Filipino or Ilocano home-cooked meals. So no, it wasn't the food.

Looking back at all my trips to eLyU, I realized that all the fun and memorable moments I had at that place were all with people that I have met there. That solo hike to Tangadan Falls with this guide who proudly told me that he was the guide when the local TV show Byahe ni Drew came to eLyU. Those two nights I spent having a conversation with this guy whom eventually became a good friend. Those surfing lessons with locals who welcomed me into their family and treated me as one of their own. That bonfire drinking session on the beach with a fellow tourist who told me about her opened up to me about her worries and insecurities. That weekend spent with a fellow female solo-traveler who has the same passion that I have for saving the environment and basically just doing some good in the world. Those nights partying with fellow tourists, some Filipinos and some foreigners, who, albeit our drunken states, shared their travel stories with me. It is the people that I have met there, both locals and tourists, that made me fall in love with eLyU. Because everyone who came there seems to have a story that they were all too willing to share, no matter how good or bad it was. Because everyone who came there seems to have done so for a reason, and the way I see it, it was either they were running away from something or they were chasing a dream that they have found there.

For me, it was both. When I first visited eLyU this year, I was running away from my life in the city. Not that I could run away from it forever. But it gave me a temporary escape. I quit my job because I was sick of it. I let go of some people in my life because I needed to. When I was there, my employment status, my responsibilities at home, my toxic relationships - all them seemed far away. All them didn't seem to matter. After that, I kept coming back to eLyU, but the trips that followed weren't to run away from my real life. It was to chase a dream. The dream of living near the ocean. The dream of waking up in the wee hours of the morning to catch some waves and to be able to do that every single day. The dream of finally being in a place that I could call home, because for me eLyU is home. Whenever I'm there, it was as if I'm living my dreams and my trips back to Manila where horrible wake-up calls. And then I'd end up spending the next days, or weeks, counting down until my next eLyU trip.

There are those places that we fall in love with. La Union, how can I un-love you?

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