Travelling alone means you will have to, eventually, be sleeping with strangers. And I developed a love-hate relationship with my seatmate during the trip. I was cold because I left my jacket at home when I went back to get my sandals.
All that kept me alive was the thin bandana my beloved KRS gave me for my birthday. It was so thin I could see the conductor walking by whenever I drape it over my face.
One time, as I temporarily gained consciousness during my REM, I was shocked to see my forehead directly in a ‘too-close-for-comfort’ contact against seatmate’s forehead.
Her being unaware of it made things worse because she didn’t hold any precaution thereafter. I had to sleep sitting straight and every so often, would wake up to check if I did not contaminate her shoulder with my drool. It was so uncomfortable I’m amazed I survived it.
My forehead encounter filled my trip and I was never the same again.
Then a thought struck me as I checked her out in my peripheral vision: If aliens sucking intelligence of humans were true, and if she was an alien, could I have just given her secrets to everlasting things?
The remains of the trip were uneventful until I checked my phone for my current location during one of the stopovers. I half-panicked when I thought I was 20km past Urbiztondo already. Too frugal to take another trip back, I was contemplating on moving forward to Laoag and call the whole thing off.
I arrived past six in Urbiztondo. I just finished half of my morning prayer inside the bus.
I alighted after making friends with the driver and the conductor for a couple of minutes, in hopes they’d help me locate my hostel. I realised I just had to rely on my pure gut.
I saw one landmark, turned left to a private road and bit my hand from the chilly wind freezing my fingers.
Hello, San Juan. Bring it on.