Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Wonderings on Wanderings: Underlining the Transformative Power of Travel

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wonderings on Wanderings: Underlining the Transformative Power of Travel

In 2002, my calling card read Carol E. Carreon, Chief Executive Officer, BayanTrade.  In March of that year, Business World Online Philippines wrote: “when she makes the move this time, it might not be to scale another mountain. Rather it would be to more from her high-rise office and enjoy the view from where she has climbed so far.” They were right. Less than a year after I stepped down to a consultant position and a year later migrated to America which two of my children made their home.

My fascination for America began when my Dad told us, his five little girls, stories about his fighting alongside Americans in WWII. Then Mom was sent on a year-long government-sponsored scholarship to the Central Institute for the Deaf in the USA. “Her letters came with dried yellow, pink, and purple flowers of spring. Other times they came with dried yellow, orange, and red leaves of fall. If she could, she would undoubtedly have sent snow!” My fascination turned up a notch. When the American School in the Philippines chose me as one of their scholars for junior and senior high school, it grew even more. After college, US multinationals invested in my computer training and my fascination turned into love.

In 1986, when the economy went into a downward spin, I went to America to seek better opportunities. But I missed my kids terribly, so I quickly came back home. As the Philippine economy improved, my career blossomed, and I finally earned enough to give my children a comfortable life. But it all came at a hefty price. Working hard, pursuing graduate degrees, and being active in professional organizations—things I deemed necessary to stay on top—spelled doom for my marriage. I was forced to take on the role of a working single parent to three daughters. By the time I was fifty, I was completely burned out.

I had to get out of the fast lane fast. “I wanted time to cook a little, teach a little, travel a little, write a little, and love a little.”  I thought the last one would be difficult to find in the Philippines because, at my age, all the good ones were taken! I took a longer look at life in America. My first try in America was a two-year HUGE misstep. But I stayed. After four sisters, three daughters, and two granddaughters, I welcomed the news that my two daughters were each having a baby boy and became a happy baby-sitting grandma who also learned how to cook family meals!

But soon I was again caught in the web of a driven life: teaching in two colleges and a university and counseling small businesses for the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). I even joined Book and Toastmasters Clubs. Enter a knight in shining armor. Bill was almost as driven as I was: President and CEO of a national business printing company, owner of a printing franchise, director for the Document Management Industry Association, a member of the church pastoral council, and president of the Young Republicans. We were married on the cruise ship “Champagne Lady” on Washington’s Lake Union. It was a cruising to a life together of cruising. Bill sold his business; I resigned all my posts, and we looked at life after work. He suggested RVing across America, the dream of most Americans. It sounded exciting!

It has been quite a ride. I got to love and travel, and not just a little but a lot! During our travels, I met people who egged me to write. Tombs and homes of literary greats inspired me no end. On March 2010, I began to blog. In January 2013, a month of sadness caused me to review all my blog posts. I saw how our story had been developing. I compiled all the posts into a manuscript, the first draft of a book. After two years and a half of editing and working with iUniverse, I now have a published book: Carolina: Cruising to an American Dream. The fifth wish on my list had come true! 

In a little over four years, we drove almost a hundred thousand miles to forty-nine American states, nine Canadian provinces, and six Mexican states. Primarily a travel book, it “offers fascinating facts about irresistible places, surprising insights about unique encounters, and useful guides” from our experience. But it is also a story of retirement, immigration, and love. I “discovered America from within the cozy confines of an RV with lessons that came as fast as scenes changed.” Not only did I learn to be a wife without losing my identity, but I also became an American without losing my roots.

The following is the last line of my book: “My new calling card says it best. Carolina Esguerra Colborn. Wanderer. Writer. Wife.” The transformative power of travel can never be underestimated!

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