The only bus at the terminal when I walked in at four in the morning was a Florencia line with a sign to Nato Port – Sagnay. I boarded it with a smile and thought how nice it would be to actually get off at the port. I told the conductor I was getting off in the town of Pili, some fifteen kilometers and thirty minutes away, and paid the fare of P15. Oh how I long for the beach, I thought as I closed my eyes.

I woke up to peer through the stained glass windows and the pelting rain into the dark of what looked like vast expanses of watery rice fields and I knew instantly I had slept too long. I checked the time – five o’clock. Sleepy and not knowing where exactly was I, I decided it was best that I get off in the town proper, whatever town that happened to be.

I entertained the thought of getting off at the port but I looked at my boys and decided, maybe next time.

I got off the town proper, still not knowing what town, and walked under the eaves of the line of sari-sari stores shut at five past on a rainy Saturday morning until I found a sign. It read:

Ocampo Elementary School

Darn it. I was in the next town.

I waited until a bus with a sign that said “NAGA” came down the empty road. I boarded the bus, empty, and asked how much the fare to Pili was. The conductor said P12. I had the urge to laugh maniacally but was successful in restraining myself.

I fought the urge to fall back to sleep as I sat there looking down on my boys, lest I found myself waking back in the Naga City Central Bus Terminal, nearly 30 kilometers away.

I kept my eyes peeled until the fields, the trees, the houses, the stores became more and more familiar, and the buildings, somehow became bigger and bigger – until there came looming the bright huge 7-11 sign.

I wished I had taken a tricycle straight home for P150. The driver always wakes me up when we get to MY town (and not the town after it.) Wait, neither bus driver nor conductor woke me up. Tsk!

I found my Pops sitting on the rocking chair in the balcony when I finally got home at six in the morning. I trudged up the stairs without bothering to take off the boys. Hell, our house is dirtier inside than outside, I thought. I, finally, take off my boys – my favorite pair of cowboy boots, and stumble into the bed I have been sleeping on since I was thirteen. Ah, the life in the province, how I wished it was not as adventurous.

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