Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Killer Roads

[Note: This piece was written a few days after Valentine's day in 2005 and published in Sun Star Davao.]

For more than one week now, I have been going around the house, in school and even in the mall, taking pictures with my brand new digital camera. After my laptop and my mountainbike, it’s my third most expensive possession. In fact, my baby’s so precious that I don’t allow just anyone to touch it. It’s just too bad that with the 16 MB memory card that comes with it, I can only store about 25 pictures and even less if I increase the picture resolution. This didn’t discourage me however from acting like some crazy photographer last Sunday on the Kaputian - Penaplata - Babak mountain-biking trip with Eric, Bagani and Daeclan.

I woke up at 7 a.m. and arrived an hour later at our meeting place in Eric’s house in Malvar St. As usual, Eric was still sleeping. He’s a manager of an Internet shop and only had three hours sleep, so again, I benevolently forgave him. Bagani, my college classmate and perennial mountain-biking buddy, had gone out last night with some girl friends but he made it just on time. And Daeclan, an Irish surfer/environmental scientist was afraid of what he called my Dutch punctuality so he was on time too.

We arrived at Sta. Ana Wharf around 9 o’clock but the boat only left one hour later because something got stuck in its propeller. So while waiting for us to get unstuck, I clicked away. I took everyone’s pictures - and pictures of the other passengers, the kids swimming in the sea, the boats, the birds... Every time the camera’s card was full, I spent five minutes choosing which pictures to delete to make space for new ones. Before I knew it, my camera’s battery drained. Thank God Daeclan pitied me and lent me his batteries.

When we arrived at Kaputian, we quickly ate squid for lunch then filled our water bottles and put on some more sunblock before finally embarking on our killer-road adventure. I had motorbiked the steep roads before on my way home from Isla Reta so I was a bit anxious about having to actually mountainbike them – without a helmet. Bagani warned me that I might fall and smash my head and spill my brains.

Just like he predicted, an accident did happen. In going down the third very steep hill, I stepped on the breaks and almost lost my grip on the wheel. That was so scary. Lesson learned: don’t ever ever break in the middle of a descent.

The others weren’t as lucky though. In careening downhill, Bagani’s rear tire and Eric’s front tire got punctured by the sharp stones. Luckily, neither one of them slipped or got hurt - or spilled their brains. The guys were actually more concerned about their beaten up bikes and were relieved when Deaclan once again came to the rescue with his spare tube and some glue to patch up the holes. I didn’t know anything about fixing bikes so I got out my camera again, secretly happy that I finally got my scoop and record my friends’ close brush with death. (Knock on wood.)

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. Just scores of shrieking smiling kids running after us and an occasional guffaw by people who were amazed that I - a girl - could bike.

Poor Eric had cramps in his legs so at every hill he had to walk up instead of bike up. He was carrying a knapsack with his water bottle and soccer shoes, just in case he could make it on time for soccer practice later. But the pain made him lag so far behind that we had to stop several times so he could catch up.

At one point, five drunkards on a motorbike drove beside Daeclan to ask how much his bike cost. In true good-humored tourist fashion, Daeclan took their picture, which delighted them enormously. A while back, Daeclan had stopped to take a picture of coconuts being dried in the sun to show to his folks back home. Then he told us that before he came to the Philippines, he didn’t know what mangoes looked like. That really cracked me up. But I suppose that if I were in Ireland I’d be stopping to take pictures of apple trees too.

Since Hagimit Falls was along the way farther down a side road, Bagani and Daeclan decided to go there and take some souvenir pictures. While Eric and I waited for them at the shed, we reminisced about some terribly corrupt teachers we were able to get fired in college. A zillion minutes later, Bagani and Daeclan finally emerged with hair dripping from a ‘quick’ swim. I was all sticky and I suppose, stinky as well, and for a moment I wished I could strip like a man and jump into the water too.

But the sun was ready to drop into the ocean and disappear, so we biked on and took the barge to Davao City. It was dark when we finally stopped at Colasas for a chicken barbecue dinner. My butt was sore and the guys’ legs were sore but we felt great. We all agreed that the killer roads weren’t so agonizing after all but the heat was.

Surprisingly, when I got home at around 8 p.m., I wasn’t even sunburned after having biked eighty kilometers! Ah, the magic of sunblock! I swear though that on the next biking trip I’m going to wear a helmet. And I’m definitely bringing a bigger memory card. My Santa Claus is still thinking about whether I deserve it. I hope he reads this.

1 comment:

Peter Chen said...

Hi Maya,

From a very brief look at your profile, you seem to be doing noble work. The world need people like you.

Thanks for leaving a comment in my post Expandable Post Summary for New Blogger and for your kind words.

Peter Blog*Star
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