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Romancing the Difference

By Myrna LopezBy Myrna Lopez

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer here in the US. It is a date I anticipate with pleasure.I dislike the cold and the snow.

Summertime  the livin’ is easy, the fish are jumpin’, the daddies are rich, and mommas are good lookin’. Who could possibly hate summertime? But this song by George Gershwin does not mention how the outside temperatures can climb into the upper nineties and low 100s. Breathing is made difficult by humidity. When that happens I try to visualize how the yard would look with two feet of snow…. How dreadful. I abandon the vision promptly. My mind starts to wander to cooler adventures, this time not as extreme as the Siberian tundra. 

How about our Baguio visit in February 2011? Yes, I think that will do.
Baguio is the summer capital of the Philippines, located some 1,500 meters above sea level. The climate is mild, 'subtropic'. The previous time I was there was in 1973. I had just taken the Nursing Board Exams. My friends and I decided to take a trip to Baguio. 
We rode a bus with no air conditioning. There was a mob of people gathered by the bus door. Our male companions kicked and elbowed their way in. One of them, the American, climbed through an open window to claim and reserve seats. His face took on the color of puce from the barrage of insults heaped on him. par  When we got to our destination, we had just enough money to stay in a dormitory with only the barest necessities. The beds had one sheet and one pillow. No blankets. We shivered ourselves to sleep. 
The toilets smelled. The water spout had no shower head and no hot water. I developed a strategy – one scream, one quick drenching; another scream, an even quicker soaping; a final scream to rinse. Who cares if there was some left over soap and shampoo? IT WAS COLD!
For our Philippine trip early last year Mitch and I scheduled a three day/ two night stay at the Baguio Country Club. It had been decades since he had visited Baguio as well. We were hesitant when a young friend suggested we take a bus from Victory Liner. She sounded confident. And she mentioned a stewardess. And air-conditioning! 
The bus ride was indeed comfortable. We had the front seats just behind the driver so we had enough leg room. I bought 2 hard-boiled eggs and chips. The stewardess gave us two bottles of water. We were set. Baguio, here we come.
The trip took five hours. We were sleepy but we were excited to see the scenery so we kept each other awake. The music and the two movies helped. 
Passing slower vehicles on two lane roads was interesting. I had to cover my eyes on several occasions because the oncoming cars were too close for comfort. Mitch and I looked on in horror and awe when we saw other buses pass us at the same time we overtook other buses. The overtake-r became the overtake-en. 
One becomes inured to danger I suppose. I crossed myself too many times to count. The driver must have had ice water for blood. He looked calm and utterly confident.
We arrived just before dusk. Our young friends met us at the bus depot. It was the first time we met in person but the awkwardness lasted a mere minute. They brought us to the Baguio Country Club with a promise to meet up later in the evening.
I recalled the inhospitable accommodations three decades ago. This was a definite improvement. The room overlooked the golf course. The bed cocooned us in luxury with a firm mattress, warm blankets, and fluffy pillows. The toilet was well appointed, clean, and the shower had hot water. There was even a complimentary basket with wine, fruits, crackers, and cheeses on the table by the window. 
It was definitely a time for delicious goosebumps. And did I mention a photo op with the Azcals? What a life! And it's all good!
Send comments to: myrnamlopez2012@yahoo.com
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