The bus was ordinary. Cramped. Chance passengers stood on the aisles, faces expectant, eyeing the empty bus seats, hoping its official owner won’t appear. Vendors selling bottled water and various knick knacks peddle their wares near the driver’s seat.
I made my way across the aisle and took the window seat, my favorite spot when I travel. I settled my backpack at my feet, the overhead compartment too narrow to fit it in, severely limiting my movement. I started munching on the apple I bought the night before, silently willing the bus to get going. My will fell on silent ears.
I passed the time observing a Filipina and her European female friend. The Filipina looked like someone I knew in college, they had the same body built, the same skin color, the same hair, but the voice was different, her eyes much smaller than the person I knew. They settled on the seat behind us. I eavesdropped and continued munching my apple.
A few minutes later the bus finally came into its senses and made its way out of the bus terminal. I expected the 8-hour trip to be a breeze, being it a Holy Thursday, and that everyone must have left town the night before. I was wrong.
Traffic was horrible. The national highway, from NLEX to the Quezon National Highway, turned into one gigantic parking lot. The bus crawled. To make matters worse it was hot. The breeze was temporarily dead. My leg muscles ached, demanding a stretch. My butt felt like it was slowly being eaten by the seat it had been sitting on for hours.
Two bus stops and 13 hours after we left the city – 5 hours more than the normal travel time – we finally arrived at our jump-off point to our final destination the next day. I, Dong Ho, Lawstude, Jonee, and 3 others were heading to what we called the secret island.
To be continued…