The Observatory: A Bus Ride So Colorful, the Storm outside Pales in Comparison

While a million of us were cramped in an ordinary bus in Masbate City bound for the nearby municipalities, I was playing the role of Jean Baptiste Grenouille. And my now highly sensitive olfactory sense is telling me that there is nothing more confusing than the combined stench of sweaty armpits and cured tobacco leaves. Yes, in the right corner is a bag of tobacco   and to my left is a middle-aged man (or aromatic, or spice, more like cumin, more like curried armpits). There are sacks and sacks of rice at the back of the bus, some extending functionality as seats. An ex-military octogenarian is bragging about his fierce and bloody combats of the past. The next minute though, he’s weeping bucketloads because his son is finally returning home from the States and apparently he’s gay.

A myriad of sights, sounds, and scents (some more like stench) fill the atmosphere and I cannot simply grasp every element. I feel disappointed as I want to document every detail of this thrilling bus ride. While I was busy adjusting the phone settings so I could capture my seatmate’s balisong, I failed to notice the storm brewing outside. Raining cats and dogs that day, the streets were pools and the rice fields were reduced to murky chocolate rivers.

And so after I safely returned to the comforts of my own sheets and pillows, only then have I realized (and heard from the news, of course) that storm signal #1 was raised in Masbate City. I did not regret being out on the road. Two and a half hours of throwing caution to the wind was totally worth it.

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