Day 3 of our trip. After eating breakfast, which our host family prepared for us, Tara and I went on to pack the things that we were going to bring to Buscalan, where Tara would be getting her tattoo from Fang-od. Since Fang-od is living up a mountain, I suggested to Tara that we just bring my bag and have her stuff inside, too. Then, we could request Manong Francis to carry it for us on our way up.The plan was we would return first thing the following morning so we could catch the last trip to Bontoc. So, we also had to make sure that the stuff we’re bringing to Fang-od’s would be easy to fit into the rest of our things.
We made sure to bring the following:
- A set of clothes to change into
- Insect repellent
- Matches to give to the tattooed lolas we’d meet
- Candles to give to Fang-od
- Money for Tara’s tattoo and our share for the overnight stay with Fang-od
The jeepney to Tulgao arrived a bit later than we expected. And, when it finally got to where we were, I was surprised to see that there was no more space for us to sit inside. And, because it was the last jeepney to Tulgao, I gathered all the guts I could muster and climbed up the jeepney. I was lucky enough to have the railings of the jeepney to hold on to, even if half of my body was more bent than the other. Tara, on the other hand, only had the crate she was sitting on to hold on to! (So, in case we had met an accident, Tara would be bringing the crate along with her. Classic!)
For the first few minutes of our jeepney ride, I was praying real hard for our safety. Who wouldn’t? The jeepney we were riding on was overloaded. The locals, who in my mind should be used to this kind of adventure, looked as if they were all so scared as well. Whenever the jeepney would make a turn, I would hold on for my dear life as it appeared like we would do a flip-over anytime. Later that night, Tara said that she, too, was praying to her guru. Since she was sitting on the “safer” side of the jeepney, it appeared to her that they would have their faces scraped off every time the jeepney would make a turn.
I was sitting on the rear end of the roof of the jeepney, facing the streets that we’d just passed. I also had a good view of the Chico River on my right and the surrounding beautiful mountains. After I had let go of being scared, I enjoyed the moment and loved the scenery that we were seeing. Since I couldn’t take my camera out (I needed both of my hands to take good pictures and my left hand was busy holding on to the railing), I just chose to enjoy every bit of the moment, with the intention of memorizing the beauty that we were witnessing, and repeating in my head the numerous firsts that I had done/encountered in the first three days of our trip. Tara, being the awesome person that she is, took out her camera and took a video of some of the mountains and river that we passed.
When we got to Tulgao, the hike started. I wasn’t prepared and didn’t prepare. Weeks before the trip, Tara told me to get ready because there would be lots of going up the mountain and walking. I just said, “I could walk! I now love walking!” and consciously didn’t think about going up the mountain. If I did, I don’t think I would’ve pushed through with this. I would create it to be too difficult and something I couldn’t do!
The hike was uphill-downhill-uphill. We would stop every once in a while, drink water, and find shade to rest for a bit. It was my first real hike and I wouldn’t have been able to make it if it was not for Manong Francis, who was literally pulling me up the mountain, half-way on our second way up, and Tara, who would teach me the proper way to breathe and where to step on. At one point, though, Manong Francis thought he was being funny and was jumping up and down the hanging bridge that we were again crossing. I wanted to slap him, seriously.
I took my time and they let me do it. Several times, a local would walk past us and a few minutes after, we’d see them on the other side of the mountain. Oh yes, I’m a weakling (or they’re just really super fit!).