“Writing is something that you don’t know how to do. You sit down and it’s something that happens, or it may not happen. ” – Charles Bukowski
It never did, until today.
As I type this, I am in a backpacker’s hostel in Metro Manila, not as a guest, but as an employee. On a regular day, I would welcome guests from all over the world, talk to them, and arrange bookings. On better days, I would drink with them.
Overall, it’s unpredictable yet often rewarding because at the end of the day, it’s not the pocket that triumphs; all is exhausted but what remains is contentment that goes way beyond the numbers.
A guy named Ben, whom I met in my travels, opened this path for me. He quit his white collar day job in America and decided to live in Laos as a hostel worker. Like him, I sought this type of work to make my time more worthwhile. I needed a less hostile environment; one that is no longer hammered by corporate lies. Sitting on a desk 8 hours a day imprisons the mind, but meeting people, knowing them and learning from them expands it.
In my almost 2 months of working, I’ve already met a significant number of travelers who have somewhat left a memorable impression on me such as the woman from Taiwan who spent her only 3 days in the Philippines going to the most unusual of places – Antipolo, Rizal, Quezon City, the lady from China who only knew 2 English words (Thank you) but was able to explore Tagaytay on her own, and the speech impaired American woman who took her time to visit those impaired by society’s greed.
Bravery and kindness: the traits of the selfless traveler. Both illuminate the small yellow space I’m in. Both have pulled me out of a dead end.
Tomorrow, another stranger will knock on the hostel door. Beyond the backpacks is another story waiting to be told.