Last Saturday, I took a series of bus rides to San Marcelino in Zambales to pick up a motorcycle from a bunch of shirtless American retirees. It is not the craziest thing I have ever done but is among the bravest, even discounting the fact that I commuted with a roll of P1,000 bills hidden in an eyeglasses case.
But see, I have always wanted a Kawasaki Eliminator and the price that they were offering it for was so much lower than it would go for in Manila, where OLX users seem to be in an eternal cloud of delusion about how much people will be willing to pay for their old things.
In the past, I have bought fixer-uppers that never quite got fixed because of a lack of parts and funds, so, this time I decided to follow advice from last year: Doon ka sa mapapa-shet ka tuwing nakikita mo. And this bike is definitely that.
So I got the money together, hopped on a bus in Cubao and was in Zambales five hours later to meet Mark, Bryan, and Alaska Bob.
There wasn’t a lot of small talk, which I liked. Buying a motorcycle is serious business, and all I really cared about was whether the bike was as advertised, and once I was sure it was, that the deal would go through.
It took less than an hour and I was on the road back to Manila, ruing the decision not to download Waze before I left the city and having to rely on Google Maps and the general idea that the MacArthur Highway exists and that it ends in Manila. I was fine while there was daylight and there was really one way to go, past Dinalupihan in Bataan and on to Lubao and Guagua in Pampanga.
I ran into trouble, though when I got to Bulacan, where, ironically, there were more signs telling me what road to take to Manila. These signs, I learned belatedly, were for cars and trucks and other vehicles that could use the North Luzon Expressway, which is really the most sensible way to travel across Luzon by land. But of no help to me in my sub-400cc motorcycle.
I took a bypass road that cut through grasslands and was populated by cargo trucks in their multi-colored lights. And found out twenty minutes and many kilometers later that the road ended at the NLEX.
I eventually found my way back to the road I needed to take, which passed through several towns and cities — including Bulakan, which is apparently an entirely different thing from Bulacan, and is filled with pedestrians and parked cars — and to Valenzuela, Malabon and the Bonifacio monument in Caloocan. I had never been as happy to see that rotonda in my life, because that meant it was less than an hour back to Quezon City.
In between, I took rushed cigarette and coffee breaks, more to keep from cramping up than because I was sleepy. The fear of getting lost, or getting a flat tire or engine trouble on a dark provincial road kept me awake, pretty much. At the end of the ride, and like the true biker that I want to be, I washed my face with bottled water and a spare shirt at a gasoline station restroom and brushed my teeth in front of the urinal.
A few years ago, I had the idea for a series called Ride 52, where I would ride out every weekend and write about it (so, basically, it’s wanderlust on wheels). This is a little late, but we’re off to a good start already.
More motorycle thoughts here.
*Usually, I ask a girlfriend for suggestions for names, but I don’t have one right now, and, besides, this is for me. It’s an apt name, in any case.