My dad, the adventurer
MANILA, Philippines - I blame my wanderlust on my childhood, filled with Childcraft encyclopedias, atlases and books that made me dream of setting off on my own adventure. And, I was born in a foreign country, which might also be a contributing factor.
Apart from that, I did not think I got it from anywhere else. In my family, I was the one who loved going out as much as my brothers, my mother, and my father (to a certain extent) loved staying home. That was what I believed until I took a second look at my dad.
Game for anything
The first time I really took notice of my dad’s adventurous streak was in Palawan, our first family trip in several years. It was also his and my mom’s first time to go snorkeling. While my mom needed convincing, my dad gamely donned his mask and regularly asked for his picture to be taken during our water adventures.
He made it a point to try everything on our trip, and did not balk at the over 700 steps of climbing Mount Tapyas. And he joined me in my brothers for jump shots on the beach!
My parents used to work as nurses in Saudi Arabia where I was born. It was my dad who fully made the most of what the country had to offer, riding camels and exploring sand dunes.
It was clear where I got my “I’ll-try-anything-at-least-once” resolve.
Adventure no matter what
While my dad has health problems like hypertension and diabetes symptoms, these do not stop him from chasing adventure. Even now, at 60, he pushes himself to his limits and finds creative solutions.
During our family trip to Taal Lake, it was my dad who insisted that we trek up Taal Volcano’s steep trail. He sweated buckets, his blood pressure in danger of shooting up. Yet his condition did not make him turn back and give up, which is understandable for people with his health concerns. When he could not go any further, he simply rode a horse the rest of the way up! And he was probably the most energetic one on top, asking me to take photos of him, posing alone or with my mom, from different angles.
It was the same thing when I tried rock climbing for the first time recently. Because I jumped at a friend’s invitation and had next to no physical preparation, the climb was hell, with my legs and arms killing me, and my heart pounding so madly I thought it would burst off my chest. Even though my energy was running close to empty near the top and I wanted nothing more than to call it quits, I knew I was going to finish the climb.
Adventure lost and recovered
Why did it take me so long to recognize my dad’s adventurous soul?
Perhaps because our family had been preoccupied with financial troubles and illnesses like cancer for far too long. My dad’s fiery spirit, which was probably blazing when I was too young to notice, gradually faded towards the resignation of getting up every day and working to settle bills and debts.
But as he got restless, he filled his free time with activities that mattered to him: sessions with his friends in a religious group, and meetings and get-togethers with his alumni association. Eventually, he and I insisted to the rest of our family that we go on a trip. Back then, the last family trip I could remember was over a decade ago.
And gradually, through our family trip and trips my dad later took with his friends in his alumni association, the fire in my dad began to burn again.
I was the same, working in a job where overtime was common, even on holidays and weekends, hoping to help my family somehow and at the same time prepare for my financial future. One day, though, I woke up and realized I had buried my childhood dreams in exchange for what I thought was a stable future. Much later, I set off on a seven-week backpacking adventure to fulfill my childhood dream of long-term solo travel.
But the desire to explore and discover is not the only thing I got from my dad. In many of his Saudi photos, his eyes are all lit up like a child’s. That was still the same face I saw when he exclaimed over the jaw-dropping views in Palawan. And, it’s not only during travel. He had the same expression when he pointed out our home’s bent jackfruit tree, still thriving every summer despite having almost fallen from a typhoon, and when cooking a delicious dish and proudly presenting it to us, his family.
It is how I also react, from a simple yet delicious dessert to a dream trip.
My dad’s sense of wonder and easy delight never left him despite financial and health troubles, including one which almost blinded him.
Those are things I don’t ever want to lose too, travels or none.
And so, to the man who is largely responsible for my wanderlust and wonder, Happy Father’s Day! - Rappler.com
Claire Madarang is a writer, traveler and seeker. Her wanderlust takes her on adventures like backpacking for 7 weeks straight. Her seeking leads her to different wellness practices like meditation and healthy (mostly vegetarian) eating. Follow her adventures, tips and epiphanies at her blog, Traveling Light.