Baktin Diaries: Ispiso na Amoy! (A Sharp Whiff!)

Some trips are unexpectedly memorable. Trips that defy all measures of a comfy ride but once shared with friends and a bunch of random funny strangers, they become instant attraction in one’s memory lane. Such ride for me was my recent trip to Legazpi City when I attended a national convention with my colleagues in the faculty. The four of us decided to take a land trip from Davao City to the venue and vice versa, and each trip was roughly a 36-hour bus ride. Going to Legazpi was already a struggle but the ride back home was even more challenging than we thought, and after exhausting our mental, physical and emotional facilities at that monumental gathering of the geniuses and blah blah blah in the field of agricultural engineering, we once have to summon all our outer and inner strengths for this one long but goodness-gracious fuckingly unbelievable journey.

 It was Sunday night and our entire day was spent touring Bicol, exploring places where there is always a shadow of Mt. Mayon, though the majestic volcano was kind of shy that day as she kept her cumulus towels wrapped around her important curves. We were already at the bus pickup point at the designated hour. But Tita Bus Booker informed us that due to heavy traffic in Manila, possibly because of the incoming holiday, the bus would be arriving late. So there we were, waiting for Philtranco Bus along a lonely lifeless two-lane road where trucks and wheels passed us by, leaving behind a beautiful mix of smoke and dust. We alternate between napping and forcing ourselves to rouse while waiting for our saviour to appear. And after decades of waiting, with a blinding blaring white light announcing its life-saving advent, our bus arrived. We were delighted beyond measure, as if we just won the jackpot of a department store’s raffle. We were joyous beyond words, until we saw what was happening inside the bus….

Kuya Bus Konduktor was not accommodating and we had to squeeze our way through the monstrous crowd inside the bus. We were supposedly assigned to seat numbers 5,6,7 and 8, but due to the innate Pinoy resilience and determination of the other passengers, we had to occupy the next row. It did not end there as going to our seats was like hiking to Mt. Everest teeming with goats (though I have never been to Mt. Everest, and are there goats over there?). On the aisles of the bus, there was a sack of rice, huge bags and sacks, tin cans and plastic bottles, and most importantly, poor faces of chance passengers, ages ranging from young boys who can be circumcised this summer break to elderly women who can avail 20% of public utilities everywhere. We went up these bundles, took a little slide of our hips, dipped down, and plunged to take our seats. We brushed butts with others, and shared our body odors with them.

 And yes, we finally got settled, with our bursting bags underneath our seats or feet and the crotches of the nearby standing commuter almost kissing our heads. Exhausted that I was, I inflated my neck pillow and donned my eye mask. Depleted that I was, I soon became enticed with sleep. But before my eyes had their finale shut down, a different kind of whiff exploded in the air…

It was a silent explosion, but the smell was neither silent nor shy. It was strong! It was sharp and pungent! It was fierce like Tyra Banks! It was something that wanted to break free for a long time, like some kind of a genie. But it was not a fucking genie! It was a fucking flatulence (google search please)! No, correction please, it was not simply a poisonous gas, for there was something solid and wet in it. Like dust in the wind! No, dust in the wet wind! It was strong that my entire spirit was woken up! And my blindfolded eyes hurt from the smell.

And while the strong tang of shit hung in the air, there was a sudden magical sound. SSSHHHHHHTTTTT! SOMEONE ELSE JUST SPRAYED A BIG LOAD OF COLOGNE! There was a mighty battle of odors. There was a chaos of smell and noise as people kept voicing their reactions. It was a painful disorder of thing. And amidst all this commotion, the bus kept playing Christina Aguilera’s “Come on Over (All I Want is You).”

But I was too tired to give a damn of what was happening around me. Despite the smell of shit and a disco of people’s blubbers and 90’s pop songs, I slept.

I found calm inside the storm!
Lesson learned: Christina songs plus a nasty smell is a good sleeping pill.

To be continued…..

P.S. According to intel reports, the man who puffed the magic dragon was later asked to go outside and changed his clothes. So while he changed, his remaining items were thrown outside and the bus sped off to oblivion. This report still needs verification though.

Read the entire Baktin Diaries series.
Image credit: Dreamstime


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