A Grand Vacation
Archie Modequillo (The Freeman) - August 18, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  People like to take vacations.

Everyone needs to break away from the routine life now and then. The mind and the spirit have to take a break, to be refreshed, to be able to stand the monotony of day-to-day living.  

The common concept of taking a vacation is to go somewhere. To experience something different from their usual, most people want to get away from familiar surroundings. They make a trip to another place.

“So where did you go on your vacation?” returning vacationers are often asked.  More than the usual “pasalubong” (gifts to give to friends back home), they also have to tell big stories about their trip. Thus, in the first place, they need to go to the grand destinations; otherwise, they have to fabricate exciting tales.

Anything less of “It was fun going around the Hong Kong night markets!” or “We discoed all night in Boracay!” or “We chased sharks in Malapascua!” is not exciting. It seems no vacation experience is worth telling if it’s simply the kind that anyone can easily afford. Hence, one either has to be a big spender – or a big liar! 

I wonder who sold us out on this idea that we really need to go somewhere to have a vacation. Is it the Merriam-Webster dictionary? I doubt it. Or is it the travel-and-tour industry, since they make business out of looking after the needs of travellers?

We’ll probably all agree that going somewhere is quite a hassle. The trouble begins with packing up, choosing which items to bring and stuffing everything into the available luggage. Yet, upon reaching the destination, there’s always something left out: cotton buds, breath freshener, your favorite hat, anything.       

It’s not always any fun, either. A place is always a little short of our expectations of it. Our prior imagination of any city or town or country we visit is most likely fired up by the travel brochures, or by friends who had been there first and told exaggerated stories to impress us.

If going there is such a headache, coming back can be worse. It’s often doubly difficult to fit everything back in the bags. And the fact that funds have now been depleted can make it very easy for an emotional depression to set in.

Back in summer this year, my mind was filled with thoughts of taking a vacation. So I started planning, very thoroughly, what I was going to do. I began saving for it, too.

I made sure that there would be none of the usual travel hassles. I wanted to have fun and good relaxation, at the same time. My schedule was such that for a whole week my days were to be filled with positive activities and tranquillity. I’d stay in bed for as long as I want and do whatever I like to do.

Then it all took place, exactly as planned. Every day I slept until 11 in the morning. Lunch was regularly brought to my room.

In the afternoons, I sweated myself out on something I previously didn’t have enough time for. Afterwards, three to five kids would come over to give me a whole body massage; they were not trained masseurs, but those little fingers wandering aimlessly on my back and calves always gave such a relaxing sensation.

On some evenings I met up with friends, or else I just stayed put and read a good book. Towards midnight I’d have an ice-cold beer to doze me off. My sleep was always uninterrupted, very restful.

It was really quite a vacation. I enjoyed it very much, yet spent only little for the great experience. I was able to expand my little “garden” upstairs by several more pots. And the carinderia (eatery) downstairs was all too glad to do the weeklong meal delivery service for me, for a little extra charge. The neighborhood kids were even happier.

Perhaps you can guess, I didn’t go anywhere on this vacation. For most of the time I was just right at home, without pressure on my time or stress on my mind whatsoever. And yet it was in every way a grand vacation!

And I have no pressure to tell tall tales about it. I don’t have to embellish my vacation story with lies just to make it appear bigger. No one even has to know at all that it’s supposed to be a vacation.

A vacation is always a big thing – we don’t have to squeeze it to fit into our small ideas.

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