Before migrating to and retiring in the US, Carolina Esguerra Colborn’s business card had “President/CEO” printed on it. Now it reads “Wanderer, Writer, Wife.” In 41 easy-to-read short chapters, Colborn shares her life’s journey and the lessons learned in her second travel book, “Cruising Past Seventy: It’s Not Only about Outer Journeys. It’s Also about Inner Ones”.
“I really don’t miss much of my old life. It became a very stressful period of my life in 1998 to 2003 with SAP and BayanTrade. In my first book, I wrote that ‘I wanted time to cook a little, teach a little, travel a little, write a little, and, yes, love a little.’ The last one would have been impossible in Manila. I am happy to report that all five have been accomplished and I will be into painting next year. What I miss most is the barkadahan with special longtime friends. That was my most precious coping mechanism for all the stress. Unfortunately, American society is not as clannish as the Filipino. I miss the jokes and laughter in kwentuhan, ballroom dancing, karaoke singing, and even the mahjong and poker sessions,” Colborn told Digital Life Asia.
Leaving her old life behind
Colborn had a distinguished career in Philippine business and was a stalwart in the information technology (IT) industry before migrating to the US in 2004. She was the former president/CEO of BayanTrade, the e-procurement hub of the Philippines; managing director of SAP Philippines; deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue; general manager of MegaLink, the ATM transaction switch of Philippine banks; and vice president of the Development Academy of the Philippines, the government consulting arm.
She also worked for Andersen Consulting, IBM, and NCR. Twice a recipient of the Most Powerful Women in IT Award, she represented the private sector in the National Information Technology Council.
What was it like for Colborn to transition from the fast-paced IT industry to her life now?
“It actually took a lot of years. First, I wound down my BayanTrade work in two years, first becoming vice chairman for a year and then a consultant for another year before migrating to the US in 2004. Then I took two years of rehabilitating my health. My first American husband, a naturopath in Texas, helped me do just that. But, when I was ready to face the world again, he did not want to travel as much as I wanted,” she said.
“After our divorce, I started another driven period of my life, babysitting my grandson in Seattle, teaching in three colleges and universities as an adjunct professor, and volunteering as a small business counselor and lecturer for SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, a nonprofit organization of 13,000 retired executives all over the US. It was when I met Bill in 2007 and married a year later that the turning point really happened. We went RVing across North America for eight years in what felt like a never-ending honeymoon. That led me to writing about my travels,” Colborn said.
From her eight years of RVing, she delivers “Lessons Learned” in Part 1 of “Cruising Past Seventy”. One of those life-changing lessons is how to travel light in an RV. Colborn and her husband’s home on wheels weighed ten tons and the cost of moving it from point to point was high. They had to learn how to travel light, and minimize fuel expense. And it led them to a huge life lesson: “There is really only one way to travel light, and that is to live light.”
“We were RVing almost throughout our sixties, traveling to 49 American states, nine Canadian provinces, and six Mexican states. When we were approaching our seventies, I felt a noticeable change. We decided to settle down in Viewpoint Golf Resort in Phoenix, Arizona, moved on to travel outside of North America, and upped our timeshare weeks to four months a year — three of them in any of seven all-inclusive resorts in Mexico,” she said.
“It became no longer a dream of going to every country in the world. As we advanced in years, it changed to seeking comfort and convenience in travel. Even my writing changed. It led me to write more not about where and what we did for future retrieval, as in my first book, “Carolina: Cruising to an American Dream“, but to how I felt about what we saw and went through.
“I began writing more of travel essays. Those became the foundation of this second travel book, “Cruising Past Seventy”. And I found there were three themes: lessons learned, changes made, and insights gained. Now that we are not able to travel much, if at all, I hope to inspire travelers to begin collecting for their own book of inner journeys. These are the benefits of travel that are deep and long-lasting, enriching lives,” Colborn said.
In Part 2 of “Cruising Past Seventy”, Colborn shares “Changes Made”. How did the former president and CEO become a wanderer, writer, and wife? Becoming a wanderer and a writer is easy to see, but the story about becoming a wife (after three tries) will inspire readers.
From all her travels, Colborn has also developed a deeper understanding of many travelers’ concerns. These are all compiled in Part 3, “Insights Gained”. There are chapters on the attitude, flexibility, curiosity, and courage travelers must have. There is consideration of how to deal with travel mishaps or falling ill. Colborn also shares reflections on who makes the best travel buddy, the choice between brand new or old favorite destinations, and the folly of breaking rules. Other chapters cover the better seasons to travel, the amount of time to spend in a place, meeting beautiful people, finding good food, and keeping fit. There is even a chapter on the new rules for traveling during the time of COVID-19.
What is the biggest lesson that Colborn has learned from overcoming the challenges posed by the pandemic?
“It is true the pandemic has brought upon us great challenges. We need to be more cautious and careful than usual. We have had to adapt to the new normal of online shopping, curbside pickups, watching movies on demand, telehealth sessions, and Zoom meetings. I have grown to miss so many things: movies and popcorn, dancing and karaoke, mahjong and gossip.
“But it has also given us the time to go back to the basics, to spending more time with family and ourselves, to be closer to nature, and to be less attached to material things. As a matter of fact, the time gave me the chance to become healthier, engage my grandchildren in special Zoom classes, initiate Zoom reunions with long-lost friends, and, yes, write another travel book,” Colborn said.
Outer and inner journeys
“And that is a great lesson. Any misfortune, any drawback, even any mishap can be turned around to be a golden time for some forgotten project that needs attention to consume your energy and passion.
“As a matter of fact, I call that a flagship project and I look for one anytime there is a downturn. That’s how I wrote the first book, too,” she said.
Already in her seventies, Colborn sees the benefits of both outer and inner journeys as deep and long-lasting. And she urges us not to wait.
Whatever age we start, we must keep building our own book of lessons learned, changes made, and insights gained.
Start your own journey, and become a wanderer today.
The Kindle edition of “Cruising Past Seventy: It’s Not Only about Outer Journeys. It’s Also about Inner Ones.” is now available for pre-order for US$1.99. The title will be auto-delivered to your Kindle on Nov. 28.