Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lost gypsy

When it comes to directions, I’m Jack Sparrow’s compass: broken, north-challenged, pathetic.

I’ve resigned to this conclusion after the 13th interstate trip I’ve ventured on with a group of road trip junkies while on a nearly three-month stint in the States. Never out on the road without a travel “bible” (read: Map Quest), we often appeared armed and ready like a bunch of cookie-peddling girl scouts each time we march out for a road adventure. And yet, we still find ourselves naturally lost somewhere at some point.

Perhaps the most lingering experience was when we headed for King’s Island, a popular theme park at Ohio. Unable to stick to the convoy plan, we ended up somewhere but near the amusement park – maneuvering barren fields, stopping over secluded park by the lake and circling roads that looked too familiar after the 8th U-turn.

What would normally have taken three took us six exasperating hours before we finally saw a glimmer of Son of the Beast, King’s Island’s most “dangerous” attraction and the world’s longest wooden roller coaster. If there was any saving grace to being completely oblivious of where we were then, it was that gorgeous and buffed hard-hat worker in tight white shirt who graciously offered us directions.

Despite being conspicuously far off the right highway, I would never dare decrypt a Map Quest, unless of course my life depended on it. I once did it while lost in Atlanta, and I ended rattling off street names as if these were Da Vinci’s cryptic codes. But who could blame this poor diva from drifting between “Take I-75 N” and “Slightly turn right on exit 29“ when, to begin with, I could hardly recall street names?

For someone who is inflicted with street-name amnesia, I usually end up hyperventilating in the passenger seat each time a road-savvy taxi driver asks me which street, road or corner to take. “Would you rather that we take Bag-ong Dan and head to Hippodromo or turn along Escario to proceed to Archbishop Reyes?”

It is at this moment that everything seems to move in slow motion. Sarao jeepneys that usually whiz by suddenly appear to crawl at snail’s pace. Pedestrians who often rush to the other side of the road seem to leisurely stroll on the yellow lane. And as the driver continues to mechanically recite street names while my head spins from desperately trying to make sense of the barrage of unknown places, I hear nothing but Greek.

Neither does it help that I have been blessed with a paranoid family who, perhaps reading on the daily news too many cabbie assault stories that usually take place anywhere else but in Cebu, have long warned me never to drop hints to a stranger about being clueless and lost.

But when salvation is required, I usually slick my way out of my navigation dilemma by calling a human GPS.

“I’m standing in front of a street post next to a ‘No urinating’ sign,” I’d inform my cousin in between panic attacks.

“Do you have any idea how many street posts with ‘no urinating’ signs are there around Cebu?” my cousin would shoot back, clearly exasperated at my poor choice of landmark. “Can you be any more precise? Anything else that may help hint where you are?”

I would pause and look around. “There’s a two-storey green house.”

Despite the fact that my compass magnet needs a bit of tweaking, I remain undaunted. If Jack Sparrow can travel to world’s end with a compass that doesn’t point north, what’s to stop this navigation-challenged diva from conquering the world?


faeryrowan said...

"If there was any saving grace to being completely oblivious of where we were then, it was that gorgeous and buffed hard-hat worker in tight white shirt who graciously offered us directions."

Our angel... *dreamy sigh*

Keith said...

My spirit suffers when I think how much I would like to visit the islands again....

Sigh, but here in Redding California, police just ticket people for urinating in public..... Ergo, we see no such signs here.

I do remember seeing a traffic sign once in the Visayas that said "accident prone area"

I expected to see people with canes tripping all over themselves.

One day I shall visit Cebu again!

divawearsnada said...

Yes Keith, we do have all signs here - some funny enough to merit a blog post!

And yet, Cebu leaves a delightful mark to any traveler, not solely for the road signs, but for the warmth of its people.

Hope you get to visit Cebu again. Cebu has just become more exciting. :-)