Jody's Peace Corps Experience

Monday, July 11, 2005

My Trip to Tadian

I decided it was time to get away this past weekend. I have a very good friend, Rachel, whose site is in Tadian (pronounced Ta-jon) in Mountain Province. I was gone, Friday through Sunday and let me just tell everyone, transportation here is something that will take time to get used to. Here's my bus traveling story:

So I was really excited to begin this little weekend excursion on Friday morning. I had a few things to do before getting on the bus so I had gotten up early, double checked my packing efforts and headed out the door at a little after 7 a.m. I went to the bank and then hopped on a jeepny into Baguio to catch my bus at the Slaughter Station. Yes, quite a morbid name for a bus depot, but accrued its name due to the fact that it was situated near a slaughtering house.

I got a few items at the little market nearby, a bottle of water, an apple, and a bag of snacks and I felt I was all set to go. My bus arrived and some people began to board. I picked out my seat and my gosh, there was absolutely no leg room! Good thing this was not a full bus or I would have been in trouble! The bus was scheduled to leave at about 9:30 and we got going about 20 minutes late. One thing you have to know about the buses is that there is not really a set schedule, just an estimate and there are no "bus stops". You stick out your hand if you want a bus to stop...kind of like a taxi!

We made several stops in Baguio, picking up more people as we went. At one of these stops, a lady and about 50 boxes were packed into the bus. They put all of the boxes on the top and piled a few bags of rice in the aisles and then we were off again. The bus driver was going at a very good clip when all of a sudden there was a huge boom on the roof. That's right, one of the boxes had come loose and flew onto the highway. The guys who are called conductors (they take tickets) jumped up out of their seats and yelled for the bus to stop. One of them ran out and gathered the box and its contents...luckily just a box of tinapy (bread). Not too much damage so we were off again.

One of the conductors decided that he wanted to check the rest of the boxes on the roof. Instead of having the bus stop, he jumped out of the bus door, scaled the side of the bus and jumped up on the roof; doing this with just rubber sandles no less!

I didn't mention that this whole bus ride was through the mountains of Northern Luzon and estimated to take 6 hours. There were times when I looked out of my window and could only see down about 300 feet! My bus driver was a risk taker as well. Not only did he pass other trucks and buses, but did so going uphill and around a curve! I must be getting used to this type of driving as I'm not even nervous when drivers do this anymore.

After many stops, helping another bus get unstuck from the mud, and the bumpiest road I have ever been on, I made it to Tadian in one piece and alive! Rachel was there to greet me at the market and I was shown around her town. Very quiet and peaceful situated on the side of a mountain. No traffic, no pollution; only calm and quiet!

I got to attend a wedding while on my visit and Rachel and I tried our hand at cooking for ourselves for the first time. Attempted rice pudding, mash potatoes and sayote omlettes. Another volunteer came for the night on Saturday and we had a popcorn party. Then I was off on Sunday afternoon on the same bus company.

Let's just say this was an even crazier bus driver and the last 2 hours of the ride I wasn't feeling too good. When I got home, I crawled in my bed. After about a half hour I emerged and told my host family about my trip...oh, and that I would be skipping dinner due to my bus ride. One of my host sisters told me that the bus company I took, D' Rising Sun, was notorious for it's fast paced driving!!!