Thursday, September 4, 2008
Uphill Both Ways
The adventure continues! This morning on my ride to Talubin, my trusty steed got tired. She sputtered, her knees gave out, and she could go no further. The motorcycle would go no further for me. Nor would it start again. But the mountains were beautiful on this sunny morning.
It was only about 200 meters to the "saddle" where you go from being on one side of a mountain going up to the other side of the mountain going down. But it was a steep 200 meters and I knew it would take a very long time to push the bike up the hill. So I moved the bike to the side of the road and began walking. It took about a half an hour to walk the rest of the way. By God's grace, I was not upset or even anxious at this point. (Anxiety came later in the day.)
When I arrived, someone who had a signal on her phone sent a text to the owner of the motorcycle. We did not get a response. I taught the last portion of my class and we were finished by lunch. Still no contact with the owner.
After a nice lunch with the students and staff, one of the students accompanied me. (There was no way they were letting me venture off on my own.) We began walking up to the saddle to see if we could start the bike or at least coast it back down the mountain to Bontoc. Although the morning walk was beautiful, the afternoon walk was under threatening skies with thunderous accompaniment. But we made it to where I had left the motorcycle without it really raining.
Note that I did not say that we made it back to the motorcycle. We just made it to where I had left the motorcycle. (Remember the missing anxiety I mentioned earlier? No motorcycle = much anxiety.) I had expected it to be relatively safe. Other places along the road had motorcycles parked. There is not a lot of people travelling that road. Those that do are not just out on joy rides, they are going somewhere. The bike is old and another motorcycle parked along the way is much newer and in better condition. So there I am, 1/2 hour walk from Talubin, about 1.5 hour walk from Bontoc, no cell phone signal, no motorcycle. Did I mention it started to rain? Although it is very common to pick up hitchhikers here, my morning walk and afternoon walk had been just that - a walk. Nobody was willing to pick up the Americano.
Oh well, my companion, Ariel, and I began walking toward Bontoc. Fortunately, a pick-up truck came by and gave us a ride in the back. We made it back into Bontoc, along with a road crew that hitched a ride as well.
Ariel was so concerned for me. It was almost comical. I was wearing a rain coat, he was carrying an umbrella. Once it started raining, he insisted on holding his umbrella over both of us. Only two problems: first, the rocky road made walking closely, side-by-side a little difficult; the second, I am almost a foot taller than Ariel. It is difficult to hold your arm up high for a long time, so between the terrain and this height difference, I often found the umbrella coming down on my head. Please understand that Ariel was trying very hard to care for me. As we walked to the saddle he even asked if I needed to stop and rest. I recognize that I am at least 15 years older than he, but come on! I am not that old and out of shape am I?
Back to the bike. We get into Bontoc and I text Pastor Rudy, the owner of the motorcycle, to see if he had picked it up. No response. "Perhaps he does not have load," I think. So I call him. No answer. At this point he is either avoiding me or not getting a signal.
In the end, Pastor Rudy had picked up the bike but was in Maligcong (no signal - I ended up calling his wife, Bridgett). We were able to get Ariel onto a jeepney heading back to Talubin. I made it home with a great story to post. All that is left to discover is what happened to the motorcycle and what it is going to take to get her running once again.
Below are some pictures of my students enjoying some popcorn as we reviewed the exam.