We All Deserve A Break

Ymgy Gardose Aton

© Copyright 2022 by Ymgy Gardose Aton

Photo courtesy of the author.
Photo courtesy of the author.
As a working female, I have been on the verge of having a “me-time”. I wanted to have my time alone. So I thought of doing my first domestic solo travel without thinking of all the hectic schedules in my workplace and taking care of my family at the same time.
In the early months of 2019, I started off my first solo journey. It was my first plane experience as well. Everything was set, planned, and well-budgeted. Of course, from a country where rich natural resources are found, a lot of beautiful sceneries to see, and various local food to try, I have always been eager to experience them for myself. That was when I discovered Camiguin Island in the northern part of Mindanao in the Philippines.
Known as the “Island born of fire,” Camiguin island is small but it has many fascinating tourist destinations. From beautiful white beaches and sandbars, unlimited water splashes from cold and hot springs, to majestic waterfalls, the island has a lot more to offer. The famous Mt. Hibok-hibok is another great destination for mountain climbers. It is a sleeping volcano, but active.
During my first time on that beautiful island, I was mesmerized by its beauty. For me, the place was peaceful just as I embarked from the plane. I could see the locals were so accommodating. Everything was different in my eyes. There I realized that city life was more stressful than island life.
Because I fell in love with the island, I introduced it to my friends and subordinates. We planned for another trip and decided to conquer the peak of Mt. Hibok-hibok. They were so excited. So was I.
As a matter of fact, we were all beginners in mountain climbing. We were so eager to reach the summit so we planned it very well. Some of my friends went to the gym to prepare for that what we called “hardest climb.” I was not like them. I did no exercise, even a jog. It was all our first time.
When we were on the island, we explored it just like what I did on my first time. We hired the same tour guide I hired. The guide to Mt. Hibok-hibok was younger. He has been guiding climbers since he was 15 years old.
The day of the climb arrived. We were ready. We brought a few bottles of water and some loaves of bread. We set off our trek at 1:09 AM PhT. As beginners, we easily felt tired and our legs shaking. After 6 hours of trek, we reached the crater of the sleeping volcano. We ate breakfast. I had an upset stomach but I managed not to defecate. We asked our tour guide the common question, “Are we there yet?” Then the guide would respond “Yes.” It was the opposite, actually. At 8:00 AM, we were at the first summit, seeing no trace of any view from above because of the dense fog covering us. The common question had been constantly asked. Finally, at 9:00 AM, we were at the real summit. Again, there was nothing to see but a dense fog covering the peak of Mt. Hibok-hibok.
We were a little disappointed, but at least relieved because we have reached it despite being beginners. We were also proud because nobody from our company had ever done that – just us.
The climb was so hard. We had to go through slippery rocks and steep routes where we needed to use a rope to climb the next possible way as there was no other option. Despite those, we still did not give up. We were laughing all the way, as some of my friends would fart. Some would slide which caused their hiking shoes to be damaged and their leggings to tear apart. We would share nice stories along the way, and talk about nonsense just to forget that we were tired.
Are we there yet?” – a common line from our team.
At 10:00 AM, we started our descent. It was a different route. It would lead us to Ardent Hot Spring which was suitable for relaxation after a long trek.
On our way down, some of our friends left us. We could not see them anymore. They walked so fast and arrived at the hot spring 2 hours ahead of us. While we were still trekking and kept taking a rest because we were really tired.
At last, after 16 hours of walking and rest, we arrived at the hot spring. We were exhausted and at the same time hungry. So we decided to eat at a restaurant outside the hot spring. One of my friends lost consciousness while eating. She was so pale. Fortunately, the owner of the restaurant knew what to do so she helped us. My friend was very much affected by our trek and said, “I’ll never do this again.”
At the hot spring, we felt so relaxed. The temperature was just right for us. We soaked and let the warm water massage our bodies. We deserved to experience that. After all, we were able to get back safely despite long hours of walking.
We met a new friend from Spain. Her name is Rosete. She is a backpacker and she loves to travel solo. We shared our experience about the climb. She also shared her travel experiences with us. Sometimes, it is nice to be in a distant place so you could make new friends – those that you get to know once but soon become close.
The island has had a great impact within ourselves. After that climb, we realized a lot of things and discovered more about us. The relationship among us became more tight. We were able to build strong connections and more sincere friendships. Because of that, we forgot the stressful life we have in the city and found more time for ourselves to relax and enjoy.
Until now, my friends have been thanking me for bringing them to the Island born of fire. They have always asked me to go back there and explore more. However, the pandemic occurred and those travel plans we had were disregarded. Probably soon again, when everything is back to normal.
Are we there yet?”
A little more, just keep reading.
Traveling solo or with a group of friends is one good way to relax and calm our minds. The learning we get from that experience will always be momentous. Find places that would make you happy. Discover. Travel. After all, it is us who will benefit from it. We always deserve a break.

I am a language teacher and I always have a passion for writing. Whenever my urge to write arouses, I just sit in front of my laptop and write. I also have articles posted in my blog posts, but I rarely write nowadays. I just try to express my thoughts in writing. I was once a winner of an international essay writing competition held by the US Peace Corps volunteers. It motivated me to keep writing.

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