Ten hours of not-so-comfortable sleep on a bus to somewhere up extreme north, three stopovers and a snoring, personal-space offending busmate and finally we arrived.
Eto ang probinsya. I don't know if the bus ride jogged my brain or because it's just too damn far that I kept thinking, "Tatanggapin ba yung pera natin dito?" only to catch myself and think, wait, Pilipinas pa rin kaya to. The town was charming. The rolling hills was enveloped by the endless mountain range and the occasional "Wow" escapes my mouth. I knew I was in for a very spectacular adventure. Looking back, "spectacular" is not going to even cut it.
After settling down our things at our lovely appointed room at Davidson hotel, which i fell in love with, by the way, we had our tapsi breakfast only to find out we have a good 10 minutes to prepare for what we came here for. The good 10 mintes lapsed and we found ourselves in a jeep loaded full of men, equipment, and more excited warm bodies headed to Chico River. After 2 and a half more hours on our behind, not to mention the 100 meter dash we had to do midway because the road eroded the day before (scary), and we're here. Upwhere Pasil and Chico River meets is where the real adventure begins. Class III Rapids? For three girls who's upper body strength was only reserved enough to lift those tequila shots, we sure are crazy to just decide on this trip the day before. But I guess there's no turning back now. Yeah, right, like we're really gonna turn back. Sakitan pala ng katawan ha? Bring it on.
Ok, here comes the million peso question: Bakit Chico River tawag sa kanya?
a. Dahil kulay Chico sya. (apparently not. It rained the day before. The soil eroded from the highlands hence the muddy color. Otherwise it would be a beautiful clear blue river. But still, given the all the browness, it still is beautiful.)
b. Dahil pag natikman mo sya, lasang Chico sya. (River. Tubig tabang. Walang lasa. Take it from me. Hahaha)
c. Dahil para syang Chico, maaligasgas/ sandy. (No. It's not. Believe me nga eh.)
d. Dahil mga amoy Chico (i.e. lasing) lang ang magtatangkang magpatihulog dito. (We're completely sober. Promise. Can't believe it myself.)
Got thrown off the raft twice. First time at Cheche's flip, named after Cheche Lazaro who also fell off that same rapid, second when our whole raft almost flipped and everybody but one got thrown off. Apperently, the rubber boat we're on, "Kalinga", was the river's "favorite", being the most veteran one among all of them rafts. Ay happening ang boat namin talaga.
Not having enough of it, along the part we're the current we're flowing strong without the rapids, we just jumped. In all those times I was stubborn enough to swim against the current, figuratively, there's something poetic about literally just going with the flow. So this is how it is to succumb to nature. Ang sarap. Parang langit.
The escapade ended with a buffet of brown rice, roast native chicken, fried eggplant, shrimp okoy and mixed veg in egg soup. If they had told us about the feast earlier, we would have seriously paddled harder.
Typical provincial calmness met us throughout the night. Nagpaiwan si Jose, but Issi made it for the roadtrip. More cherry and mint hookah, an ipod party, tons of laughter, and we were off to bed. Thank God we're sober coz we're Tugueguarao bound in the morning for an am bus trip back to manila. (which incidentally had its driver and conductor talking for 12 straight hours. Seriously, no awkward silence between those guys. Katorze to the next level. ).
Two days after, tons of self medicating and I still find myself sore in all the wrong places. Ang hindi kaya ng puso, idaan sa sakit ng katawan. Yun yawn.