The purple interior is complemented by saturated yellow and red hues. Various words and phrases are written in paint; dedications to God.
To HIM be the glory.
The word of the Lord endures forever.
Put God above all else.
Only those that are reborn will know the true love of Jesus.
The overhead light has been painted purple, to complement the rest of the interior, and glows like an elongated pack of Twizzlers. Looking through the cracked windshield at the bright brake lights ahead of us, my friends and I bounce around in the back of the Jeepney headed for our guesthouse on the Loboc River. The driver’s not more than 25-years old. He unlocks the rickety door from the inside as he barks out instructions to the men loading the luggage on the roof. The engine kicks over and he slams the door then secures it with a metal clip to be sure it stays close I assume. The vinyl seats are cracked and worn as there are wooden stools laying in the aisle. The vehicle is packed with as close to thirty people as possible before departing the terminal.
It’s an hour on this Jeepney to the center of town where we will disembark and make the rest of our journey on foot. Our guesthouse originally arranged for a private car, but miscommunications left us at the wrong port and the private car without passengers. The weather hasn’t been too helpful, rainstorms delaying our motorboat by more than an hour, still traveling like a local as stretched my budget allowing for more adventurous activities and incredible memories. Riding this travel high I commend myself for my consistent displays of patience and tolerance as the stares and unwanted attention continue to slide off my back.
Pulling over to refuel a bakery that doubles a bar is also hosting karaoke. A group of boys striking the air guitars and doing their best impressions of a rock star moves while screaming the lyrics to “Living On A Prayer”. Heads nod and then catch themselves in the nick of time as the passengers drift in and out of sleep. A long Sunday filled with church services, shopping, and too much fried-chicken and rice consumption, no doubt. Pounding on the roof startles me about the same time I realize the Jeepney is without headlights; it’s a passenger notifying the driver their stop is approaching. My friends and I are equally exhausted. A day of travel that should’ve been three hours has doubled to six and climbing.
The ending of the evening is a blur, fatigue winning the battle over curiosity, settling into the guesthouse a too welcomed feeling. The morning greets me with lush green trees swaying in the heavy winds, it rained in the night. The fog is beginning to clear, evaporating into thin air as they wrap themselves around the coconut palms in the distance. A dark shadow stirs the tall green blades of grass, a water buffalo grazing. I watch the majestic beast wallow in the shallow mud, swatting insects with its tail while smacking on the contents of its mouth in slow circular motions, like a cow. A pair of white egret takes flight in my peripheral taking my attention and landing my eyes on the carefully crafted spiderweb a meter from my face. I freeze. Spiders have long been the catalyst of an irrational fear I’ve managed since adolescences. The eight-legged inhabitant sits in the center—watching me, no doubt. Including its legs, the arachnid is small (massive if you ask me) enough to fit in the palm of my hand. I study the thing for a moment, catch a shiver then begin to move away.
Rescued by a knock on the door I make my way back inside from the balcony. I’ve slept nine long hours and now it’s time for breakfast and exploration, in that order. Longaniza (a popular sweet sausage), eggs and toast are being kept warm by saran wrap. The owner of this establishment is kind and thoughtful. I greet her quietly as not to disturb other guests still sleeping. I slice the sausages in half, making four thin pieces vs two bulky ones, and place them, along with my fried egg (over-easy) onto two of the three pieces of toast provided. Biting into the makeshift sandwich I observe the sweet sausage is the same fuschia as my selected lipstick. My mind full of wonder, heart tickled by the accidental, yet appealing color match and my soul as hungry as my belly to greet the day.