Sunday, May 30, 2010

High & Far Away

Baguio - Sagada / bus

I am high. Out the bus window, I look straight down. And I mean straight down. The bus winds along the side of the craziest, cliff perched, mountain hugging road you can possibly imagine. The view is what you would expect from an airplane not a bus.

I look straight down into a valley carpeted with endless patches of green. The slopes are carved with an impossible succession of rice paddy terraces on hills that rapidly turn to sheer cliff.

Down below I spy a lone farmer tilling an ancient steppe- a small terrace of green. So far down, he seems but a tiny toy. Even further below a hair breath wide river weaves through the valley. The shadows of the clouds dance with the sunlit river on the verdent floor of the chasm.

If I were to leap out of the bus just now, I doubt I would hit the earth for a good 10 seconds. The bus is literally hanging on the side of a cliff.

Meshed with the staggering landscape are the people. Like the farmer far below they have perched their homes on the most incredible plateaus. Yet another house hangs off an escarpment with a view and perch that would make the eagles from my land envious. The views of the humble homes are fit for kings.

The people though are simple and shy. It could have something to do with my height. I tower over them like a giant from a strange far away land. And, well, so I am. I tried speaking to a family beside me-- they spoke no english or even philipino, only the indegenuois canake dialect. A rare moment for me, I find no way to communicate. It is I who is humbled now.

The road twists and turns at times making insane 180 degree switchbacks. At one moment we are pushing full gear up a hill, the next we are sighing and zagging like a drunk. All the time the sheer escarpment looms to our left.

The mist is sweeping in now. The valley now fades into a foggy oblivion. I close my eyes and try in vain to remember the endless horizon of the Canadian prairies.

I am far. And high.

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