Sunday, May 25, 2008

next time, I'm flying

it takes a notoriously long time to get anywhere in the philippines, esp during typhoon season -- you're already talking about buses to ferries to more buses, and delays throw everything off. Michael and I had to go to Marinduque, the island where my grandmother is from, for a family reunion and both legs of the journey were pretty legendary, and apparently, fairly typical.

Getting to Marinduque went something like this:
1) my parents arranged a door-to-door service that picks you up from your house in Manila, takes you to the pier, gets you on the boat, then drives you to wherever you need to go in Marinduque. my mom, aunt, Michael and I are squished into the backseat of a 15-passenger van. Duration of car ride to pier: 4.5 hours

2) we catch the midnight ferry to Marinduque and it is a serious health and safety hazard. the boat fits maybe 300 but there are about twice that number sitting on the floor, standing on the decks, and squeezing into the bathrooms. life jackets are in a locked cabinet in the back of the boat. meanwhile, the waves are so rough that someone is walking around handing out plastic bags for people to puke in. a little kid is puking next to Michael, and his puke bag keeps swinging against Michael's leg. Duration of ferry ride: 3 hours

3) we finally get to Marinduque -- the car from Manila is parked below deck, and we return to find that the people who chose to stay in the car during the boat ride have puked all over the steps to the car. Duration of car ride to final destination: 1 hour

Trip summary: we left the house in Manila at 7pm only to arrive at the resort in Marinduque at 4am.

Leaving Marinduque:
1) all the ferries were cancelled for the whole time we were in Marinduque, due to bad weather. on the day we are supposed to leave, the ferries decide to run again, mid-afternoon. we race to catch the 4pm ferry, only to miss it by 15 min. the next ferry is at 7pm. Supposed wait time: 2 hrs, 45 min

2) the 7pm ferry finally rolls up at 9pm. Actual wait time: 4 hrs, 45 min

3) ignoring the station master's request to please stay in the waiting room, everyone rushes to the pier. we watch as people, then cars are unloaded. then we watch as locals take a cart (note the singular, not plural form) back and forth to the ferry to unload bags of produce, which keep falling off the cart as it is rolled down the plank. Duration of ridiculously inefficient unloading process: 1 hr

4) finally, all the stupid produce is off the boat. the boat guy gives the signal and people start sprinting up the plank to get the choice seats on the top level, i.e. open-air seating with easy access to balconies in case of puking. Duration of wait to get everyone sorted: 1.5 hr

5) we finally, finally leave, 4 1/2 hrs after we were supposed to. Duration of boat ride back to mainland: 3 hrs

6) we catch a bus back to Manila, and the driver is blasting 80's ballads like "lady in red," "you just don't love me no more," and every phil collins song I've ever heard. Duration of bus ride: 3.5 hours

7) we are dropped off at the bus stop near my cousin's house and walk back, grizzled and disheveled. Duration of walk: 30 min., + 10 min. for the guards to verify that these dirty hippies are, in fact, related to someone in this nice subdivision

Trip summary: we left the resort in Marinduque at 3:30pm, only to arrive at the house in Manila at 6:30am

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