Wednesday, May 26, 2010

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Getting lost

Vinzon St., Obrero, Davao City

The hour after lunch is the sleepiest time of the day, regardless of where I am. It's 1 pm, and I'm yawning. I take a short nap, but the air is too stifling to allow a decent siesta.

I decide to do some exploring. Nobody wants to come with me—the reason being that it's even hotter outside—but I'm too stubborn to listen. I put on my shoes and sunglasses, check if I have enough money for cab rides, and practice my Bisaya.

"I'll call you if I get lost—in which case you have to get me," I tell my brother whose laconic response I interpret as reassuring.

I'm on my way.

I walk to Gaisano Mall and head straight to a colorful booth in the second floor. "Durian shake, please," I tell the lady. The people are so gracious here. As soon as she hands my drink, I swallow the yellowish fluid in large gulps. Suddenly the world isn't so hot anymore.

I transfer to NCCC Mall. I meet a taxi driver who gives me the exact change to the last bloody centavo. I leave his car without any feelings of hurt or injustice, a rare experience one gets in Manila but an every day reality in this part of the country.

Tired from all the walking, I yearn for rest. "But not so easily," I tell myself. I've long since learned that the best way to know your way is to get lost. I decide to take a jeepney.

The trip runs smoothly and spares me from any episodes of heavy traffic. I have a vague idea where I'm supposed to alight, and because I'm terrible at directions, that doesn't really help.

Suddenly I'm one of two passengers left in the jeep, and the place becomes more unfamiliar by the second. I'm transported into what looks like the old Davao*. I see old buildings, old streets, and old people walking.

I hop out of the jeep at the next intersection. And as I survey everything around me—the familiar, sweet smell of durian and the peaceful co-existence of urbanity and tranquility—it dawns on me that I'm officially lost.

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