I have travelled with a friend who loves to travel too. We explored new destinations together and sometimes without a plan. We just knew where we wanted to go and figured out along the way how to get there, totally relying on the help of strangers.
One time, we went to see a waterfall in a far away town. We just asked our way around until we got to our destination. We hired a local resident as a tour guide to climb the mountain and we got a free ride down the mountain with a group of bikers who took us to another beautiful, but secluded spot in the town where we enjoyed the cool waters of a cold spring. They also took us to the bus terminal where we could take our ride home. On such travels, we have learned some things that restored our faith in humanity and in our instincts.
1. Two Heads are Better than One
I have travelled solo and had a great time on my own but it is not as much fun as having a travel buddy. When one of you is tired from asking for directions, the other can take over. When both of you are confused, you can share the feeling and usually, you end up laughing at each other instead of feeling helpless. The trick is to find a travel buddy who’s personality jives with yours. You can also take turns taking pictures and in the future, there’s someone you can call up to reminisce your travel adventures.
2. Do Your Research
We travelled without an itinerary I said and we did but before that, we did our research. We had seen pictures of the water fall online but since it was not a popular tourist spot, there were no instructions on how to get there. So we bought a map, plotted a course to said town and on the day of the trip, took the bus that took us to the next location nearest our destination.
From there, we asked around and people pointed us to the direction of the jeepney terminal. On the next stop, we did the same until we got to the town of our destination. We also fully prepared our budget, our gear and we wore trekking shoes and a cap on travel day so we didn’t have to change clothes to climb the mountain where the waterfall was. We also had water bottles so we don’t go thirsty during the ride there or the trek. Also, since we only brought necessities, we didn’t leave any trash behind (just a few banana peels). We brought our water bottles home with us.
3. Be Sincere When Asking for Help
Perhaps it was because we were younger then that we had full trust that people would not give us directions that would get us lost. But I think it was mostly because when we talked to people asking for directions, we did so sincerely, trusting fully that we could rely on their help. Perhaps they appreciated the sincerity of our intentions and even started rooting for us.
So they did their best to help us. Some people who weren’t sure about the answers even asked other people for us. Some called up their more senior neighbors and family members for better information. They did everything they could to help us without extra prompting from us or without asking for anything in exchange. All we gave them in return was our thank you and the gratitude from our hearts.
4. Learn From the Locals
As we neared our destination, locals from neighboring towns were already giving us information and stories about the water fall. Apparently, a mine had been operating on the mountain for a few years already which ruined the waterfall so now it has brown water instead of fresh, clear water and the streams it used to run through had dried up.
Hearing this, we had enough information to decide whether to go through with our plans or to just go back home. But since we had come so far, we decided to see it through. We were just thankful that the local townsfolk helped us manage our expectations so we weren’t too disappointed when we got there and actually saw dried up streams and brown water gushing out of the waterfall.
We discarded our visions of swimming under the gush of the waterfall as soon as we got the information but we formed a new goal instead. We sympathized with the locals and we promised to help them. We wanted to take pictures of the water fall and dried up streams so we could report it to the authorities and help the people in the town get back their waterfall and streams again.
5. Trust Your Instincts
All through out this journey, we had relied solely on the kindness of people but more importantly, we trusted our instincts in judging our next move, in validating the information we were given and in deciding whether to trust certain persons.
Once we got to the top of the mountain where we saw the waterfall with dirty, brown water; we came upon a group of bikers who were having a picnic. We were the only people in the area, including our tour guide. We were also the only 2 girls there. The bikers invited us over for lunch but we were too tired to eat anything so we just ate some bananas as we listened to their stories about what happened to the town and what they were doing there. They offered us a ride to get down the mountain and we took on the offer because we were very tired and didn’t want to walk back down.
Our decision to say yes to their offer was instant and we didn’t feel any hesitation about it. We talked to our tour guide who went down the same way he came up. When we got back down, our tour guide was there welcome us back and to ensure that the men had brought us back safe and sound and we thanked him profusely. We were more surprised by the gesture of the tour guide than by our quick decision to trust the words of total strangers.
But our instincts were right. The men were just a bunch of guys who organized these outings so they could enjoy riding their bikes. Some of them had families and had to ask permission from their wives to join the group which generated a lot of laughs in the conversation.
From the ride down the mountain, we went to one of the biker’s house where he lent us helmets. They then took us to a cold spring which was in a very secluded part of town. They said it was quite far but promised that it was worth it. We could’ve said no at this point but our instincts told us to enjoy the ride and the next destination. They did not promise in vain and somehow the cold spring’s water got rid of our tiredness from the trek. Finally, they brought us to the bus terminal where we could get our ride home and we all said our goodbyes.
We went home with wet clothes and muddy backpacks so we opted to take an ordinary bus (no aircon) and just stand in the aisle instead of sitting. We wen’t home tired but satisfied with fun memories of our travel adventure and our faith in humanity still intact.
We also kept our goal. In one event we attended, a representative from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was present so we reported to her our discovery of the ruined waterfall due to mining operations. We trust that our report would be acted upon and help the town and the waterfall recover.