Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Urbiztondo: On Wiping Out, Riding In and Running Away

I want something else, something more. I want to go and never go back. Because bite size travels don't suffice my hunger anymore. Because I know I should be somewhere else but here.

These thoughts have been pondering on my mind lately. I realized that I don't get excited with traveling anymore. Creating an itinerary doesn't feel as good as it was 2 years ago. It is starting to feel more of a routine and hitting the road is getting less and less appealing.
But even with this travel fatigue, I still agreed to go on a weekend trip to San Juan, La Union a.k.a. The Surfing Capital of the North, out of peer pressure. I have seen quite a lot of pictures of people that went surfing in La Union and I thought there is nothing out of the ordinary in this place. 

Upon arriving in San Juan at 3PM and after checking in at the much raved about The Circle Hostel, I still think that this trip is nothing special. We then proceeded to the Urbiztondo beach to see the waves and the surfers and just as I expected, it was mediocre. Our first meal at Sebay Surf Resort didn't helped lighten up the situation either because the food is overpriced and bland. I went to (my bunk) bed disappointed and wishing I just stayed at home in my apartment with my own private, clean, well lighted toilet and bathroom, away from the mosquitoes of La Union.

We woke up at 5AM to catch the sunrise. If you know me well enough, you would know that I love sunrise and I am quite sure it will not fail me but unfortunately, the sun rises at the other end of the island. Boohoo. This might be the worst trip I've ever been to.

We went back to the hostel to get ready for our 8AM surfing lesson. Wait. Surfing? I almost forgot that I don't know how to swim, I have huge-protruding-highly-sensitive-to-salt-water eyes and I have the balance of a drunken hippopotamus in roller skates. Indeed, this might be the worst trip I will ever have.

The Circle Hostel is known for its "there are no strangers" mantra, meaning everyone who visits this place will go home with a new friend/s but it is already our 2nd day here and there are no signs that we will be adding new people to our circle soon. That is until we bought the 50Php brewed coffee from the reception area and got to really know Emily (the hostel manager), and Tanya and Grace (Baguio locals that fell in love with surfing). From the purchase of that fateful brewed Benguet coffee, everything turned upside down and I will never look at La Union the same way again.

It is not exaggeration to say that La Union is where I met the coolest people. People who do freelance work while in The Circle Hostel to surf during their break time. People who took the happiness plunge and quit their day job to follow their passion. People who ever so often break free from corporate slavery. People that inspire me and people I want to become. People who swim against the current and then ride the waves as if it is their own. 

Photo from Kirk of Kirk Anatomy
In this place I conquered my fear of drowning and of interacting with people. I was able to stand on the surf board, ride the waves, wipeout and be OK of being underwater. I was also able to start a conversation with strangers with the intent of keeping in touch.

Hopefully, this experience will finally give me inspiration to follow my biggest and wildest dream, give me the courage to leave everything behind and just go.

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