The Tourist

We arrived late, afraid that it’d be too late to get on the boat. The people gave us a warm welcome, however. They offered to carry our luggage and told us that it was alright, the sea was calm. They were so confident that, according to my friend, they were chugging booze with ease as they navigate a tiny piece of log with an equally, if not tinier, flashlight.

I went there before which probably made the travel time faster. But then again, I was probably too hypnotized by the moon. I suddenly understood what they say about the moon hanging low. That night, the waters were freaking cradling the celestial crystal ball, which created a path of light heading towards our boat. I craned my head to get a better look at it but a slight move of the head could already make me barf. I concentrated on the gurgling noise of the boat instead. The boat’s motor reminded me of tricycles and the country’s dependence on carabaos as the city drowns itself in iPads–thoughts that were occasionally distracted by oh, look, pretty diamonds in the water. My other friend, whose head craned back, forth, left, and right since the boat was pushed from the shore, told us that the algae were the ones responsible for all the sparkling. Some chemical reaction, I think. I think he was saying more, but nodding at him and looking over the side of the boat were still difficult for me. In the end, I settled in lifting my head, from diamonds just beside the boat toward flies stuck in the heavens. My friend told us we could witness a meteor shower that night.

Later, we would ask some person for help to get wood and light a fire for us as we wait for the meteor shower. The person would look like the same people who brought us there but she wasn’t. She also wouldn’t be the same person who’d overcharge us for a phony tour the next morning which would burn our skins and the soles of our feet for three hours under an unexpected trekking through knives disguised as talahib–but she’d sure look like him: tiny, muscled, dark-skinned, and a smile that threatens the crooked teeth to fall out. No, they weren’t the same. A permanently curved lower right leg definitely made the phony tour guide stand out.

But I wouldn’t know anything about him, even if I’d been there twice. I wouldn’t know if this was all he did for a living, if his children were able to go to school, or he was one of those men I saw drinking during sunrise at a hut that looks like all the other huts they had in that nature’s corner. Who owned these huts anyway? All I knew was he charged us 100 pesos each to lead us through burns and wounds and he didn’t bother to talk to us. I also didn’t  bother to ask for his name.

All that would be considered a funny adventure the next morning. After the boat ride, with no awkward talks of payments yet, we would spread a mat on the sand and lie down in our designated positions which would be beside our respective partners. We would talk about aliens, the future, and cats. We would spot a few wishing stars before retreating into our tents. It would be nice. It would feel so nice it would feel like it was the first time I lay under the stars with someone. It probably was.

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