Tuesday, June 24, 2003


I send a few txt messages to friends on the way to Butuan. It passes the time. I can't really watch the movie, it makes me dizzy. The buses are the bullies of the road. They know they are bigger than everyone else and make use of that size. We cross the middle line many times. The driver knows tricycles and jeepneys coming the other way must pull to the side, but for other buses he returns to his lane. The first few times he did this, it was scary. After a while, you get used to it.

The conductor goes down the line selling tickets based on the distance of destination. Punching holes in the tickets to show the distance paid. They have amazing memories.

I lean my head on the window and take a nap. The nice part about aircon buses is that you don't get the dust and diesel fumes from the road.

I wake up and we've entered Butuan City. It's almost 2p. Jun managed to take the seat next to me after the other woman got off in an earlier town. I recall the Butuan rat stories, how they have their own little freeway systems in the rafters and roofs of houses. Butuan is an old city. There is a sign for the archialogical dig. The city itself is actually under sea level, much like New Orleans. It sits at the mouth of a river. The river just keeps depositing more and more silt at the mouth extending the city in to the ocean. A few years ago an ancient balanghai was discovered. It had probably sank off the coast, but was now inland.

The Balanghais are these huge ships that held about 200-300 people. It had sails and some oars. This was the way Filipinos travelled and traded before Spanish times, on these great ships that followed the trade winds. Legend has it that the 8 of these great ships came to the Philippines and deposited it's people in the different areas around the islands. One continued on supposedly to populate the various outlying South Pacific islands. These ships allowed them to trade with the rest of the world.

We pass through some of the poorer neighborhoods. Many of the shack houses are sinking. Jun tells me it is like this after a rain. The ground is too soft, the consequence of being under sea level.

We decide to just grab some sandwiches and snacks and get onto a bus as soon as we can. It's another 3 hrs to Surigao. The Butuan station is much busier than all the other ones. From here you can take buses east and west and south to Davao. I use the bathroom here. 2 pisos to use the bathroom, 1 piso more for toilet paper. It's pretty decent.

The aircon to Surigao doesn't come as we watch 2 regular buses come and go. Jun decides that we take an aircon minivan to Surigao. We jump in with 7 other people. I sit next to the driver in the front. The woman next to me buys newspapers and peanuts from the vendors. There is a crack on the windshield driver's side covered by a batman bat signal sticker, but it doesn't stop the crack from extending out. On the inside of the crack is a sticker of Mother Mary. She can't stop the crack either as it stretches it's arms like a spider across the window.

I watch as we travel out of Butuan. I think about getting some sleep, but am too rested to do so. I've slept so much I can't sleep anymore, so decide to simply watch the road go by.

Though the minivan is aircon, I must be sitting right on the engine, cuz I'm burning up. This ride is torture. I shift around as much as I can. I'm not really on a seat, just some plastic compartment. So cool aircon in my face while sitting on a fire. This is good.

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