When we tell people we are going to be travelling together for a long period of time, two very common questions we would be asked is “Won’t you be fighting a lot?” and “Wouldn’t that be harmful to the relationship?”
Although we’d normally laugh and play it down, it is true that there are more possibilities for conflict when we are in each others’ faces almost 24 hours a day (this statement is literally true when we are travelling by jeepneys in the Philippines). There’s also more room for disagreements because due to the nature of travel, we are making more decisions together than we would otherwise. And then there are times when we would just be snappish towards each other because we are tired or just plain irritated.
But to us, I think, no matter how bad things seemed to be getting, no matter how pissed off we get at each other, we just need to remember one important thing: I am always Right!
Haha. I’m joking. Of course we all know that the only way to resolve any conflict is to have an open discussion about it in a non-judging environment and then mutually agree to do things my way.
Let me state my case…
We arrived in Dumaguete at 2pm in the afternoon after a five-hour bus-boat-jeepney transit. We checked into Harold’s Mansion and I felt that we’d had a pretty darn productive day. I was ready to call it a day and just wander around town and do some general bumming around.
Jo, of course, begged to differ.
She felt we could squeeze in one last visit to a waterfall that is an hour away.
“We can watch the sun set at the waterfall”, she said, among other completely unappealing things like “Look, it’s the most photographed waterfall in Dumaguete!!”, which she seemed to think would help to convince me.
Did I mention that the hour taken to reach the waterfall included commuting from jeepney to bus to habal habal? I was tired just thinking about it, not to mention the prospect of taking a habal habal did not really give me the warmest and fuzziest of feelings.
A habal habal is a mode of transport designed to take Filipinos to places they could not reach by means of normal transport. Let me say that again, places that Filipino Drivers Cannot Access by Themselves. During our time here so far, we’ve seen these very same drivers bring their vehicles across dirt roads, up mountain slopes and through torrential rivers, squeezing ten abreast through a two lane carriageway, all the while balancing three kids and two crates of beer, talking on the phone and not looking at the roads. A habal habal is a vehicle used to bring us on roads where these people dare not go.
It is similar to what we know as a modified motorbike, but it looked closer to what we would technically define in English as a “death trap”.
The word “Habal habal” is apparently (if Lonely Planet was not pulling our legs) loosely translated to mean “like habal“, and “habal” means “doggy-style coitus”. It’s so named because of the way the passenger is seated behind the driver. I’m not homophobic, but it’s a position I would rather not have to put myself in, especially over a long stretch of bumpy dirt road.
And yet, despite my fervent protest, we found ourselves on one of these habal habal each. (Ok, granted the protest was not that passionate, but I thought girls are good at picking up on those non verbal cues kind of thing!)
Long story short, I was clinging on for my life as our drivers laughed maniacally while we thrashed through the jungles. I might have been imagining the laughing maniacally part. I can’t really tell. I was too busy letting my life flash before my eyes as the drivers charged through (instead of going around) the numerous potholes on the ground.
No matter what some movie tries to to convince you, the odds will never always be in your favor. After (what seemed like) our 1000000000th pothole, the inevitable happened, I felt the weight of the habal habal shift to one side, and the next thing I knew, the world turned sideways.
My habal habal had skidded down a ditch. I managed to break my fall slightly with my hands, but what was worrying me more was that I was now in an even more compromising position with the driver AND the bike than I had been when we were just riding along.
After we got ourselves out of our Twister like position, we did a quick check on ourselves. There were a few abrasions, but thankfully, nothing was broken.
We decided to carry on to the waterfalls, and the drivers agreed to be more careful and reduce their charging speed from 150 km/h to 149 km/h (give or take).
So, there I was, trying to clutch onto my driver with bloodied hands (mine, not the driver) when a sign signalled the turn off to the waterfall. I happily hopped off the bike and realized that the waterfall was 3000 steps (give or take) down. We climbed down those 3000 steps and realized that the path leading to the waterfall had crumbled through because of an earthquake a few months back. I suppose it’s possible to climb our way through to the waterfall, but it’s probably not something I’d want to attempt with a split-open hand.
At that point, even Jo decided we had had enough, so we habal habal-ed back to the main village and sat down for the biggest $0.70 coke of all time.
My point though is… isn’t this something we could have done a few hours ago… if SOMEONE had just listened to me?