Beyond That Door

Kiel Lerio

© Copyright 2022 by Kiel Lerio

Image by Andreas from Pixabay
Image by Andreas from Pixabay 

It was a year ago that we had planned an outing to relax and enjoy ourselves after so many years just cooped up in our house. A summer vacation to the hometown of our beloved nanny who still lives with us until today. It was just our used-to-be-nanny for about 20+ years, her 4-year-old child, my sister, and I who travelled. The journey going there was smooth; with a cozy bus ride with only a few people occupying the whole vehicle, a short trip on a huge boat called a RORO, and a land vehicle to get to the hometown after riding the boat. About 24 hours after our trip from the main capital, we had arrived at our destination, the island of Catanduanes in Bicol, Philippines.

The beauty of Catanduanes was far more different from other provinces that was connected by land from the capital region of the country. By that, I meant it was more refreshing, rural, and a breathtaking sight incomparable to the provinces near the urban. The first thing we had noticed when we had seen the island from the railings of the boat was that the whole island were mountain ranges with the sea surrounding it, embracing it from being stripped barren. By the time we had left the boat to ride a car to get to the hometown of our nanny, we spent a few hours going up and down a narrow and steep road. The trees and other greenery grew wildly but not to the point where it would block the road. Everywhere you would set your eyes upon, there would be mostly green or blue from left and right. A few dots of other colors from the rainbow had painted flowers in the scene. The chirp of the birds in the mountain had let us understand that the common birds in that place were different from what we had usually heard for like in our entire lives. With how far your sight could reach, we felt that we could walk only a few minutes from any part of the road to get to the rocky sand with the waves that greeted us hellos. Thus, the driver told us when one is not in the mountains, it would only mean they are near the seacoasts.

For our resting place, we had rented out the store place of our nanny’s family. They had provided us food during our one week stay. Of course, everything was different from what we were used to compared to the urban city the internet connection was weak, language barrier was present, and there were peculiar dos and don’ts especially at the date we had scheduled our stay.

For once, I forgot that our nanny was the type to believe in the supernatural. For us Filipinos, it is actually normal, it is just for the younger generation that is different in that aspect. When we were young, I remembered that she told me her third eye was open. It is a common term here which meant they can see supernatural existences. She once told me I was pranked by a dwarf when I was a baby that lived at the back of our house which made me sick for a week and they had to call a shaman. Another common memory would be her common wake-up jump scares from nightmarish premonitions. But why did these memories suddenly come back at that time? Well, because she told us to never open the door when someone calls from the outside. It was because she was once attacked by an aswang or an evil shape-shifting creature that disguised itself as her brother beyond that door in the same place we were going to stay as she let it come in when it asked permission.

For us siblings, we were not actually the easily scared type of people. Our friends may had told us ghost stories, but we would not take it to heart. But this was our nanny, and she never lies about the supernatural as witnesses around herwhich include our mother, relatives, teachers were astonished with her decisions to remedy anything in that regard.

With the nearing end of that first day, I could assure anyone that I did not sleep well. Unfortunately, it did not end there.

Within the time span of a week, we went to soak ourselves in the sea. We had not gone to beach for about 5 years, our hearts failed to contain our sadness of a real vacation. A real vacation, in our hearts, had a “swimming in a beach” on top of everything else, though we did get sunburns after all that. To go to the seacoast was the difficult part, we had to travel down a mountain, but I had to say it was worth it. There were about no other people in the vicinity except us, it felt like a dream come true. The true discovery of this day was that when I went to stand where the sea ebbs and flows back, the cell reception suddenly went back! It was not the “when you hear the mountain spirits, ignore it” or the “voices in the forest that may lead any of us to being spirited away” that were told by our nanny that should be in our minds, but the sudden idea that we had a chance to surf the internet when near the coast.

Aside from the sea, we also had a fun time playing at the river near the resort. We never went to the resort because they required us to pay to swim in the river. But beside the resort was a part of the river that were not under their property, which meant it was free. We had an exciting time collecting rocks and seeing beautiful blue fishes. But another day there never came without a great surprise, it turned out there was an upcoming religious festival. Prelude to that festival and its float parade of a saint was the pig day. This was the true horror of the vacation.

At the age of seven, I had stopped eating pork. It was an unsavory memory I carried for 14 years. I relived that day since forever whenever I were to see pork-related dishes served. It was a cycle of red I failed to remove. That night in my memory, the whole family ate pork. At the same night, I tried yet the fork failed to get inside my mouth. I had slept away the hunger, but the guilt stayed, and I had kept everything in my mind in closed doors.

The vacation was truly a rollercoaster of emotions, but I had wished for it to stay in my memories as a token of bravery. Above everything that had happened, I loved it there. I loved the hospitality, the scenery, and their culture. Although I may not be or never be courageous enough to open some doors I had left as is, I would be always open to take another step forward and travel again.

Kiel Lerio is a writing enthusiast with a passion for notebooks, crafting notebooks, and collecting notebooks. He is about 21 years old who just happens to almost tie every personal experience in his stories. He is currently a college student in a state university in the Philippines.

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