We left the apartment on our Cebu bound trip a half minute late. But it was only because I used my lifetime of experience dealing with the ladies. Daisy had a whole raft of things that ‘needed’ doing before she left the house including cooking breakfast when there was 10 minutes to go. But my male cunning outwitted her female argument, hence our timeous departure. We caught a Jeepney with but seconds to spare as we unlocked the gate. You remember the gate that was locked from the inside when I was on the outside? Usually we seem to miss the Jeepney by fractions of a second.
Talking of missing things by a fraction of a second…
The ‘Ceres Liner’ bus, (the Philippines Greyhound equivalent) departed on time at 8:20am and carried us safely, more or less, to Cebu in 5 ½ hours (inc. landing craft). Half way we happened upon another Ceres Liner by the roadside which decided to take off just as we had crossed to the on-coming lane to pass it. (2 lane highway only) The newly accelerating bus driver didn’t want to be passed however, certainly not by some other cheeky driver from the same company, so we spent a fair amount of time racing parallel with each other, rather like something out of a Hollywood chase scene, both horns blaring, the other guy not to be overtaken, our guy determined to overtake. I was waiting for one to swing hard over and back again to knock the other off the road. I was also hoping we would be the winner. And then our fearless driver focused on the on-coming tractor trailer which, apparently, with much flashing of lights, convinced our driver that he might be advised to fall back and get in behind the other bus. And this the dear fellow did. Kind of takes me back to those happy days bus driving on Salt Spring.
It was the arrival though. We were to be welcomed to town by Daisy’s #2 son, Justin. Canadians will appreciate the name. Anyway, I thought I’d heard it all with the noise of Dumaguete. There we were waiting outside the bus depot being jostled by a surging crowd, every last one of them yelling into their cell phones in order that someone could hear them the other end. And I mean yelling – in Bisaya. Justin somehow happened to mistake “Wait outside the Dunkin Donuts,” for, ‘Wait outside the hospital.” How any self-respecting hungry young man could get those two mixed up beats me. Maybe his Bisaya isn’t much better than mine. Add to all this the ubiquitous pedi-cabs, Jeepneys and trucks that wouldn’t quit and it all adds up to a cacophony sufficient to waken the dead. Oh and did I mention 33C temperature. That’s in the shade of course. We were in the sun.
The good thing about letting Daisy’s kids choose the location for our evening meal is they tend not to be expensive. They eschew the white table cloth in favor of the greasy one at KFC or Jolly Bee. (MacDonald’s equivalent) The down side is the food. Oh well, at least the kids are happy – and I’ve saved a buck or two.
We needed to traverse a non-stop busy intersection via pedestrian footbridge. At the top pf the first rise of the filthy and badly worn steps, on the landing where one swung right to cross the road, was sitting a little lady of some 3 years. She was performing her matronly duties of looking after her naked, infant sibling, asleep on a grubby blanket. A tin can reposed nearby with a few coins lying in the bottom. She held out one tiny hand forlornly. My heart broke there and then and I whipped out a ₱200 note and popped it into her hand. I was rewarded with the most darling smile you ever saw and a polite “Thank You,” beautifully pronounced. How inadequate can one get? ₱200, barely US$4.00. I felt so for that poor kid. I really did want to pick her up and take her away and give her a life. But many greater and lesser than me have long since concluded you cannot change the world or even the life of someone like that more often than not. There must be millions like her over here.