posted on 2013-08-16 00:37:30 in Philippines
An early start today began with a use up breakfast of fried spam, scrambled eggs and fried tomatoes, finished packing then sat around waiting for the bus to arrive. After the long journey out I was hoping for a more trouble free one back and one that keeps roughly to the timetable. In Port Barton you can request the bus to pick you up at the house or go to the Tourist Office and wait there. I saw the bus driver yesterday and so asked him to pick me up at home as I had 3 bags to carry. The pick up was planned for 8.30am and the bus arrived very soon after with just one or 2 people on board and very little on top of the bus. My bag was put at the front of the roof rack and I climbed aboard. We drove around the streets collected a few more people and in one place waited a very long time while the crew loaded a crate on top. The crew comprised of 6 people including the driver, conductor and mechanic. The driver only drove the bus while the rest of the gang all assisted with the loading and unloading of the bus. At the TAC I got off the bus to watch the loading and was surprised to see the large crate on top contained a pig covered in palm leaves for shade, whatever next!
A boat arrived and started to unload large boxes filled with fish and looked extremely heavy as the porters carried them up the beach. After stacking by the bus the crew then loaded then on top taking all the assistance they could muster to haul the fish and ice filled boxes. One box was almost dropped and I noticed another leak a huge amount of water as it bounced on the roof, I hope my bag stays dry.Once loaded we were off again to navigate around the town first forward then reversing as they shuffled through the streets. We eventually left the town at 10am, I had already been on the bus for 1.5 hours!
We had quite a lot of heavy rain over the last few days and I must admit I was a little worried about the state of the road remembering how we got delayed on the way in. I didn’t have to wait long to see how much the road had suffered from the rain. The bus was slipping and sliding its way along the road, splashing through large puddles and sinking into the soft mud. On several corners large gasps could be heard as the bus tilted a few degrees off the norm but it certainly felt like 10times more angle. Then it happened… at the same spot as the car got stuck when we came in we got stuck. The driver tried several times to move us to no avail. “All males off the bus” the conductor said and we clambered off to ease the load. The bus reversed out and backed up at least 100m while the crew set to filling the ruts with small rocks. Revving hard the driver sped the bus at the small incline attacking the slippery slope. Wheels spinning in the mud the bus inched up the hill to firmer ground where the males were waiting to climb back on board.
We didn’t get stuck again and continued slowly along the dirt road occasionally stopping to pick up passengers or goods. At one farm 2 goats were hoisted on to the roof to join the pig and at another a rooster was loaded into the bus. After 1hour and 40minutes since departing Port Barton we had travelled the grand total of 22km to the end of the dirt and joined the main Puerto to Roxas highway. While it doesn’t quite reach the standards of the worlds worst roads it still gave us a good ride. The 130kms of sealed road would be a breeze I was sure of it.
Sure of it that was until the bus suddenly stopped on a bridge. I looked forward and through the screen I could see a checkpoint, but it was unmanned and with nothing in front obviously no problem. When the crew all jumped off the bus and chocked the wheels I knew something was wrong. A hose had broken and needed repair. The work took about 30mins to rectify and after refilling with water we were on our way again. With the bus stationary the open window Air Con didn’t work very well and the combination of Pig, goats and fish on top and sweaty humans and exhaust inside made for a smelly bus interior for quite a while.
Every 20mins or so the driver pulled over by a well or water supply to top up the reservoir and take the opportunity wash the windscreen. The ice must have been melting fast now as water kept running down the windscreen from the roof. I still hoped my bag was dry!
As if we were not already delayed the lunch stop was extended so the crew could put the cover over the luggage on top of the bus as the first few raindrops started to fall. Not a moment too soon, within seconds of them completing the job the heavens opened and the road some become awash with the deluge.
But that was not our last stop, about 30mins out of Puerto the bus started to stutter again. The driver stopped straight away and this time the mechanic went round the side of the bus opened up the fuel tank door and put a stick in to measure the depth in the tank. Oh dear it hardly registered on the measuring stick, we had run out of diesel! I had previously noticed the speedo’s not working I guess the fuel gauge wasn’t working either
Once the crew returned and poured a few gallons into the tank and the engine was primed we were on our way. This time I am pleased to say we managed to get all the way to the terminal without a hitch although the bus definitely had something wrong, the juddering didn’t sound or feel at all good. Glad I was not traveling tomorrow. The time was now 3:45pm, nearly 2 hours late and a long time to cover the 154km.
I had spotted a Yellow Cab Pizza Co on the way to the hotel and thought “That would be dinner tonight”. My first pizza in over 6 weeks a very nice change from the plain rice and fried home cooking