They say…

March 15, 2012

They say there’s a first time for everything. There’s the first time you learned how to swim – that fleeting moment when you realized that you cannot, in fact, breathe underwater, but that trying to do so would earn you enormous gulps of chloroformed liquid. There’s the first time you learned how to skip rope – that great feeling when you  finally got the rhythm your playmates were making, only to lose it a couple of seconds later when your legs got tangled in knots, but you didn’t exactly mind. There’s the first time you got drunk – that one party where everybody went crazy, and you were dizzy, but you were just too fcking happy to care.

However, if you were to be completely honest with yourself, there is nothing like visiting a new place for the first time… and getting lost. You swore you planned this trip for fun, but everything was going in the opposite direction; apparently your language skills were, too. Your own dialect simply cannot compete with the dialect of the locals.

You approached a kind looking old man with a straw hat. He was dressed in a dirty camisa de chino with worn out jeans splattered with mud. He was most likely a farmer or a forester, since you were stuck on one of the nature hike trails of the nth Chocolate Hill. Mosquitoes buzzed in  your ear and you heard the squawk of some tropical bird. You better hurry. It was 4:30 PM and nighttime was drawing near.

“Excuse me po…” You started out uncertain. The old man looked at you and you thought you just saw his right eye twitch. Maybe it was a mistake trying to talk to him in English. He frowned at you and turned around to give a loud call. Suddenly, his carabao popped out from behind the trees and followed the farmer as he walked further down the path that led to……… that’s just the thing. You didn’t know.

You put a hand on your hip and the other you stuffed in your pocket, trying to fish out your Blackberry. Once you finally got it, you brought it close to your face. You stomped your foot hard on the trail, crunching some unfortunate dry leaves in the process. Grunting, you sat down on a nearby boulder, curses thrown to the wind while you were doing so. No cell service. Seriously? After all the competition, or rather, in-your-face shoving of who the best network is, Globe still hasn’t bothered to put a cell tower in this region of Bohol? Seriously?

You put your phone down, looked at the trail, and clicked your tongue. Why did you end up lost anyway? The last thing you remember, you were jogging up the trail excitedly while singing to some LMFAO song and then… well, the trail started to grow rougher and the forestry thicker. You know you missed a sign somewhere that should have said “STOP WAIT STOP YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY NOW, STOP!”, but it really was no use wondering about it now, because as you said, you missed it.

“How am I supposed to get home now? I’m hungry.” You murmured to yourself, stomping your little feet, which were in Keds, on the trail once more. Bohol was such a wonderland until now. You then took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. You could find a way out of this. You were smart; you’ll find a way out…. but before looking for an actual solution, you promised yourself ten minutes of Tiny Tower first to clear your head. You whipped out your iTouch and tried to calm yourself down.

Oh, why, there you go! Another first – the first time you played with your iTouch in the middle of nowhere. Perfect. Another thing off your bucket list… but not really.

However, if there was one lesson you kept learning but always ended up forgetting, it was that the day wasn’t over until it actually was. So, as you were passionately restocking different floors on your Tiny Tower and helping helpless Bitizens find their peers, you didn’t hear the bicycle heading your way. Once the sound grew louder, you looked up, still skeptical if it really was wheels and gears you were hearing. Then, a flash appeared around the corner, and it stopped right in front of you. The skid from abruptly stopping the bike pushed some dirt on your legs and you tried to stop yourself from screaming out loud. Eyebrows furrowed, you faced the man on the bike and he took his helmet and sunglasses off to take a better look at you.

“Excuse me…” He then interrupted you. It was a good thing, too. You didn’t know what you were going to say next either – should you reprimand him for making you dirty or ask for directions?

“What are you doing here? It’s almost twilight and the park’s closing. You should head back down to the exit.”

“Uh.. yeah… where’s the exit? I’m kind of lost,” You say with a sheepish smile.

The man chuckled and replied, “Yeah, I kind of got that. We normally don’t have tourists sitting on boulders playing with their iTouch, but then maybe you just wanted to be one with nature or something.”

You tried to look at upset at his joke but a smile still lingered on your lips. “Yeah…. So… Uhm, I’m Gia.” But your thoughts were just like, HELP ME. Please?

“Ken,” He said withe a nod. “C’mon, I’ll walk you to the exit. We’ll have to go back up the trail and there’s a shortcut through the stairway from there.”

Cool. You finally found a way out of the wilderness with a guy who wasn’t exactly Bear Grylls, but at least he was way more charming.

They say there’s a first time for everything, and you just couldn’t deny that it’s one of life’s simple joys. The first time you meet a new friend. Yeah, this one’s for keeps. Maybe Bohol isn’t so bad after all.

*Sorry for inconsistent verb tenses. It’s a weakness of mine. I tried to make everything past tense here. Anyway, I’m working on it.

*Dedicated to my dear friend, Gia Basa.

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