Unforgettable People, Memorable Encounters on the RoadMonday, January 07, 2013Ryan Mach
Meeting people, some of them complete strangers, can take your journey into a whole new level, especially if you are able to make meaningful connection. My Dumaguete escapade was unforgettable because of the interesting people I met there.
A simple act of kindness, a heartfelt conversation, a scary encounter - here are some tales of memorable people I encountered on the road.
Persistent Pedicab Driver - Legazpi
I was on my way back to the hotel one rainy night from my food trip at Small Talk Cafe when I met an old pedicab driver along the side of the road in Legazpi City in Albay. It had been raining all afternoon and that night, the rain was just as hard as ever. I didn't think that going to the hotel could be a challenge. But there I was, stuck and fidgety, desperately waiting for a jeepney that hardly passed by. The street was dim-lighted and a bit deserted. I wasn't particularly scared because there were a few open establishments nearby.
SmallTalk Cafe along Dona Aurora St
The man, sensing my desperation, started stopping every jeepney that passed by to ask if it's bound for Embarcadero. I realized that he couldn't read, which explained why he had to ask each driver of the vehicle he had bothered to stop. His attempt proved futile because none of those jeepneys was passing by at Embarcadero. He then offered to take me to the hotel through his pedicab. He was charging me for only P20.00.
It was a good deal that I politely refused. What made me adamant about not accepting his offer was the fact that he smelt of liquor and he sounded drunk. With rain pouring hard and the road slightly dark, I didn't think we could get to the hotel in one piece.
At one point, he lowered his offer to P10.00, which was crazy because the hotel is relatively far. I told him I was going to take a tricycle and I was sorry that I would not be getting his service. I'm not sure if I did the right thing but before I got on the trike, I handed the man P30.00 for his assistance.
Kind Couple - Carabao Island
We didn't have an accommodation when we went to Carabao Island last April. But my friend, D, who was born and raised in the island referred us to his aunt whose humble abode served as our hotel for a night. We asked D through a text message how much would they charge us for a night-stay. He said it's up to us. But we clearly had no idea. D's aunt and uncle thought D was with us and we could sense that they were a bit disappointed to find out that it was just me and another friend, without D whom they've been hoping to see. Regardless, the couple treated us as esteemed guests, served us sumptuous lunch & dinner and gave us room, literally. They even gave us straw hats. They're concerned that we'd burn under the sweltering heat of the sun. Sweet couple!
My friend with the couple, right before leaving
Proud Mom - Caramoan
My plan, once I settled inside the van bound for Naga, was to sleep, or think, or listen to the music. But I wasn't able to do any of these because as soon as the van left from Sabang, an old woman who sat beside me started to make a conversation. She began by asking where I had been. "Caramoan, ma'am," I said courteously with a smile on my face. She smiled and told me she lives there.
"Oh really?" I responded, a little more surprised than I intended. She went on to ask what I thought about the place. Awesome, I told her. She nodded and smiled. I knew right then and there that the conversation wouldn't end too soon. At first I minded because I'm not the type of person who enjoys talking to people while traveling. It makes me a little dizzy. For some reason however I felt no motion sickness the whole time I was talking to her.
I told her I was happy for his son but in reality, I felt worse inside. All those talk about her son's achievement made me look at my own career, which seemed stagnant. I can't remember how our conversation ended. It just sort of died naturally. I recall looking outside the window, at the vast green fields we were passing by, feeling a void inside.
Dedicated Worker - Boracay
I was waiting for my order at some seafood restaurant in Boracay when I met her - this fellow kababayan of mine who's also a cousin of my high school classmate and friend. She wasn't assigned to take my order, she just happened to pass by at my table. I heard her talk to her colleagues in a very familiar language - Onhan, a mixture of Kinaray-a, Ilonggo and Bisaya. Instinctively, I asked her where she came from. Romblon, she told me. I became very excited. Where in Romblon, I asked. Sta. Fe, she replied.
"How is she?" she asked me in our local tongue. I told her that she's good. I knew that she was because I've seen her just a month ago. "We've traveled together in Palawan," I told her, still smiling. She made a comment about her cousin being able to afford to travel because they're well-off. I didn't feel that she's playing the pity card, she's merely sharing her thoughts. Somehow however, for a minute I felt bad for her.
"How's Boracay treating you?" I asked her in a cheerful tone.
She excused herself when my order arrived. She tended a bunch of customers who had just arrived.
Concerned Fellow - Mt. Tarak
The trek to Mt. Tarak was possibly the worst experience I had last year - terrible weather and awful campsite. Despite having a bad cough, I still joined a group of mountaineers intent on climbing even under the heavy downpour. I was under the impression that once we got to the campsite, everything would be okay. But I was dead wrong. We weren't able to eat well because the rain started to lash with vengeful blow as soon as our meal was ready. To make matters worse, our tent got flooded. Just thinking about how we were going to last the night inside a wet tent made me feel more sick than I already was.
Gloomy sky over Tarak
My companion and I were standing near our tent, holding an umbrella when the leader of the group offered his tent to us. It was an offer that's just hard to refuse but we're abashed to accept it because doing so would mean him sleeping under the rain. He said he didn't mind as he'd drink the night off anyway. When you're drunk, you wouldn't care where you sleep, he said musing. Here was a man so concerned of his peers that he's ready to give up his own comfort just to make sure others are okay.
This is Ian, our hero
What about you? What are you most memorable encounters on the road?