This is a repost of a blog I wrote last summer. It was uncategorized then. Now it has found several ‘homes.’
Romancing the Difference
Memorial Day was last Monday. It marked the official start of summer here in the US. The outside temperatures climbed into the middle nineties. It was oppressive. But at least the humidity stayed below 50%. For relief I tried to visualize how the yard looked with two feet of snow. Yecccch! My mind rebelled and dropped the vision. That was depressing. Then the thought of our Baguio visit last February popped into my head. Baguio is the summer capital of the Philippines. It is in northern Luzon and is located some 1,500 meters above sea level so the climate is mild, ‘subtropic’.
The previous time I was there was in 1973. I had just taken the Nursing Board Exams and was feeling restless. My friends and I decided to take a trip to Baguio. We rode a bus without air conditioning. There was a mob of people that gathered by the bus door. Our male companions kicked, elbowed, and jockeyed themselves through the throng of would be passengers. One of them, my American boyfriend (yes we were going steady…bet you hadn’t heard that term in a while), climbed through an open window to claim and reserve seats. His face took on the color of puce from the barrage of insults heaped on him.
When we got to our destination, we had just enough money to stay at a dormitory with only the barest necessities. The beds had one sheet and one pillow. No blankets. We shivered ourselves to sleep. The toilets smelled. There was no hot water. I developed a strategy – one scream: one quick drenching; another scream: an even quicker soaping; a final scream to rinse. Who cares if there was some left over soap and shampoo? IT WAS COLD!
For our Philippine trip early this year Mitch and I scheduled a three day/ two night stay at the Baguio Country Club. It has been decades since he had visited Baguio as well. We were more than a bit hesitant when a young friend suggested we take a bus from Victory Liner. ‘Momma, take the deluxe bus. There should be no stops.’ I thought, should I, or shouldn’t I? But she sounded confident. And she mentioned a stewardess who would be alerted to expect us. And air-conditioning!
We arrived at the bus depot an hour early. The contrast from the melee decades ago could not have been more stark. There were orderly lines in front of the ticket counters. When we gave our names we were given tickets with seat numbers. No need to muscle our way. The waiting area had clean chairs. Baguio travel and I have come a long way.
The bus ride was indeed comfortable. We had the front seats just behind the driver so we had enough leg room. I bought 2 hard-boiled eggs and chips to tide us over until dinnertime. The stewardess gave us two bottles of water. We were set.
The trip took five hours. We were sleepy but we were excited to see the scenery so Mitch and I kept each other awake. The music and the two movies helped. We had to get used to the traffic. Overtaking slower vehicles is standard on Philippine highways but doing that on two lane roads is pure audacity. I had to cover my eyes on several occasions because the oncoming cars were too close for comfort. Mitch and I looked on in horror and awe when we saw other buses pass us at the same time we overtook other buses. Uber-taking! One becomes inured to danger I suppose. I crossed myself too many times to count. The driver must have had ice water for blood. He looked calm and utterly confident.
We arrived just before dusk. Our young friends met us at the bus depot. It was the first time we met in person but the awkwardness lasted a mere minute. Facebook, that communication brainchild of the 21st century, took care of the initial how-are-yous. They brought us to the Baguio Country Club. I recalled the inhospitable accommodations three decades ago. This was a definite improvement. The room overlooked the golf course. Too bad we had two single beds. But they were comfortable. And there were blankets. The toilet was clean and luxurious. There was even a complimentary basket with wine, fruits, crackers, and cheeses on the table by the window.
It was definitely a time for delicious goosebumps. What a life! And it’s all good!