Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Long Weekend (Chapter 3)

The bus made its way through unpaved winding roads, but the bumpy road was no trouble at all. Eric was right- the views were spectacular. We stopped at a roadside store, and we all hopped off to stretch.

“How was your interview yesterday?” Tatat asked.

“With Ravi? It was ok, I think. I held my composure all throughout. I felt like a beauty contestant!” I joked.

“When is your interview with the Call Center Director? I had mine with her and she’ll really grill you over hot coals.” Eric adds.

“As soon as we get back. Hey Jen, how are you doing?”

Jen smiles at me. “A little exhausted, but enjoying the trip so far. Let's buy food!”

We boarded the bus for the final leg of the trip. At 2:00pm, we finally arrive at the quaint village perched on top of a mountain. It was beautiful.

“Whew! Finally!” Tatat exclaims.

“Let’s get our things to the resthouse and start exploring.” Eric says.

“Yes, captain.” I called after him.

Eric and I ended up sharing a room, while the girls stayed at the adjacent room amidst my protestations to Tatat.

“What do you want, for them to share the room?” She hissed.

“You have a point there.” I said. And so I finally agreed.

I set my bag on the small bed. “The rooms are small.. But I guess its cozy, and the receiving area looked really nice.” I said.

“Did you see the fireplace? Hurry, let’s go to Echo Valley, then to the hanging coffins and then Sumaguing Caves.” He could hardly contain his enthusiasm.

We trekked the entire time because there were no means of transport- no tricycles or pedicabs in sight. It looked like people walked here all the time. The girls and I trudged along as Eric, the most athletic was in the lead. He was wearing shorts and rubber shoes, with his camera strapped on his shoulder.

“Eric where to next?” I called out from way behind him. I was panting and so were the girls.

“Sumaguing Caves. We'll get a guide.” He says.

It was almost sundown when we arrived at the mouth of the cave. It was huge, the mouth seemingly eating up all the light that passed through it.

“Oh dear, it's getting dark. I think I'll just stay outside.” Jen says.

“Yeah, it looks creepy as it is.” Tatat nudges me.

“Eric, can we just go in tomorrow? I'm not familiar with the place.”
“Relax Gab, Ive done this before. The girls can go ahead, come on, let's go! I'll take care of you.” There he was again, being charming to get his way.

“Fine, but let’s make it quick.” I say as I hand my backpack to Tatat.

The guide lead us further down to the mouth of the cave. I heard flapping of wings, and I realized there were bats on the cave. Eric was animated, humming to himself, walking with ease.

The ground turned to jagged white stones. Water flowed in the crevices and I struggle to keep my balance. I turn my back and saw nothing but blackness; the only light now came from the kerosene lamp the guide had brought.

“Eric, wait.” I said nervously.

He laughs. “Are you afraid Gab?” I grab his arm and pretend to box him. I was starting to enjoy it actually. The guide’s face was just impassive as we went further down. He has done this a thousand times, I thought, and he couldn’t care less.

“What happened to your friends who were supposed to come with us?” I asked.

“Something came up at the office and they couldn’t make it, except for Jen.” I realized I’ve been holding on to his shoulders for a few minutes now, as the ground began to slope downwards. And then there was just shadow in front of us. As the guide drew closer, I saw that the ground dropped several feet and there was a thick piece of rope hanging.

I walked too far down, and there was no turning back now. I swallowed as Eric made his way down.

“This is called rappelling.” He says.

“It doesn’t look like fun. How deep is the drop?”

“Around 8 feet sir.” The guide says. Great, and below it is solid rock. I just hope I don’t go “splat!”

Shakily, I made my way down. I had taken off my sandals for more traction on the rock, which was wet. It was getting cold, and I imagine we were about three stories below ground level, deep in the earth’s bowels.

“Pretty cool, huh?” He grins.

“I’m wet!” I say, examining the camera. Luckily the case was waterproof. We take a few pictures of the rock formations. The guide points to a pond-like structure. We wade to the point where the icy waters reached our knees.

“It's cold out here. Let's go back up.” Steam came out of my mouth as I exhaled. Gosh, the temperature must have been really low. And I realized it was already nighttime.

“One last thing.” Eric says, he takes off his shirt and hands it to me. He walks over to the deep part and immersed himself in the water.

“Are you crazy?” I was panicking already. I imagined some sort of crazy cave monster lurking somewhere.

His laughter echoes through the cave as he grabs his shirt and puts it on. He was shivering.

“You're really losing it.” I said. He wraps his arms around me. “Whooo! The water is ice! Good thing you’re warm.”


Anonymous said...

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chase said...

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kinilig ako dun!!


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