Saturday, May 28, 2005

Going to Pandan Island, Abra De Ilog Hassle

The skies were just showing hints of light. The moon was still up. We could already see the horizon. The hills and the trees were still generally shadows. But we could already make out of what they were. This was very early morning at the Abra De Ilog Pier. The breeze was cozy and we could smell a new kind of freshness in the wafts. It was quite a sensation actually.

We excitedly watched our boat try to position itself correctly on its docking assignment. A crew member (probably the captain of the ship) was moving around and barking at a handheld radio for instructions. One time he even stood right beside me, watching the movements of the RORO and very seriously giving out instructions through his radio. Finally the plank was lowered to the pier’s pavement. Oh this was the rear of our boat!

And chaos descended upon earth again!

With the plank not even fully laid on the pavement, a group of fifty men or so jumped into the boat running as fast as they could towards its inner parts. As we three looked at each other wondering what it was, and this was just like a few seconds ago, one of those men was already in front of our faces shouting “ser, Mamburao? San Jose? Sablayan? Abra? I keri your baggage. We have bus, jeep, aircon van, special!”! Without waiting for our answer, this guy faced the other passengers exclaiming the same thing. We realized these were the wharf’s porters eager to earn a living from passengers. Then he was back at me hollering about the same thing. Then I jokingly said, hindi ako foreigner at ‘wag ka sumigaw, naririnig ka namin! The three of us laughed, he also laughed and said “sige na ser, ako na magbubuhat ng bagahe nyo, may sasakyan ba kayo? Me kilala akong jeep!” One of my companions said “hindi, ok lang kami, wala kami masyadong dala”. The porter said “o sige mam”. Then he swiftly ran to other passengers!

I thought that was just about it, so we wiggled our way with the hundreds of passengers out of the boat. But by the time we were out into the pier, it was the same thing all over again. These omnipresent barkers were egging us to let them carry our belongings while others were pulling pushing or calling us to ride their bus or jeep. Ahhh what a dizzying, blood-pumping irritant this activity is! I had to keep silent and just follow my companion who has relatives in Sablayan.

Finally, we were on a bus ready to depart for Sablayan. Whether this bus was the best choice, I still cannot decide until now. There were bad things and there were good things about this bus ride. At least, it was quite an experience for me. Yeah yeah, am getting a closer first-hand front-seat and real feel of how it is traveling in my country. Whew!

Next is the memorable bus ride...

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