I hated bus rides as a child but had to toughen up because my early childhood was peppered with a tedious amount of travel. My grandmother would take me up and down the mountain city so often I
remember playing games inside the buses we would take. I learned how to peek through peoples houses as the bus passes by the small towns leading to and away from the city, marveling at what they were doing, taking fleeting snippets of what TV show they were watching and, in my mind,
guessing what they were.

Wishing I was home lounging around instead of being stuck in a bus full of people. I developed an aversion to baby cologne as a child and it would trigger me to barf inside the bus to the commiseration of my grandmother and I suppose the people abord the vehicle, the smell of cheap cologne mixed with the air freshener of the bus (if it was airconditioned) or the smell of the smoke from the road didn’t sit well with my system and made me vomit.

To this day, I don’t use perfume when travelling, instinctively trying to protect myself of the embarrassment of a grown woman with nausea amidst a bus full of people. The bus rides of my
childhood would be a telltale sign of what our financial status was at the time, if we were riding an air-conditioned bus, it meant that money was good and allowed us to splurge on the comfort of the ride, if we rode a regular bus, it of course meant finances were tight and the travel was so essential that we had to brave the heat, grime and discomfort of open windows and uncomfortable seats.

I travelled so often that I also developed a liking to the stop over food that we had, there was one restaurant that served really good Pansit Palabok (Rice Noodles with Shrimp Sauce) and I would
actually look forward to the stop, I don’t know if we were cash strapped during those times but I always shared food and could never get anything on my own, it happened so often I memorized our order and one time I blurted it out which made my granny laugh out loud, “One Palabok and One Pepsi.”

Buses has many stops during those times, there was no De Lux or Joy Bus to give you the comfort of a bathroom inside the bus to enable the nonstop rides we have now, back then we had to survive the 8 to 10 hour ride to reach the mountain haven. I remember when reaching the iconic zigzag road, I would excitedly wait to see the lion, it was safe for buses to pass through Kennon Road then and the sight of the lion would be my barometer that home was nearer and I had to endure just
a few minutes of nausea.

I was told to look up the mountains to control my dizziness and the trick helped me stop being dizzy and it did the trick, I would look up the mountains from my window and all would be well.
Today, when I travel, in the comfort of an airconditioned bus, with a bathroom, I find myself looking up and smiling, remembering the trick taught to me as a child.

I have the extra cash to take the delux buses now but miss the route of the old buses as we pass by small towns which allow me to peer though the bus window and into the homes of people, now, the expensive buses pass through the highways which do not have houses to peer into, just open fields of nothingness. There is also no “One Palabok and One Pepsi,” stops as a “stewardess” hand me a snack and a bottle of water to tide over the 4-hour trip. Now bus rides have ceased to become interesting sojourns.

Amianan Balita Ngayon