WE docked in Cagayan de Oro around seven in the morning. Thursday.

I had gotten some sleep on the boat, but it wasn’t enough. I had the chainsmokers and the all-night traipsers to thank for that. But I figured I’d make up for it on the land trip to Davao City. After all, it was going to be a long one.

It was drizzling out. I didn’t have my trusted big, black umbrella with me. The exit was at least 100 meters from the dock. So I was drenched by the time I had stepped out to the street. My shoes muddied by the walk-run.

I was accosted by V-hire drivers. “Davao, Sir?” I shook my head. I was intent on catching one of those modern, air-conditioned buses; plush seats and pirated movies and all. I figured if I was going to see the “Land of Promise,” it would be in comfort.

For that, I had to get to the terminal in Agora. It was a few minutes, in the rain, before I managed to cram myself into a multicab. I had no idea then, that it was a portent of what was to be my ordeal for the next seven hours.

There was only one bus at the terminal when I arrived. And it wasn’t one of those modern, air-conditioned ones.

Grabbing a bite to eat was out of the question. I didn’t want to leave a mark in the “Land of Promise.” Not in that way, anyway.

I was getting anxious, antsy to be at my final destination. The weather had made a turn for the worse. The drizzle had been replaced by a downpour.

A man approached me, and pointed to a van outside. It was leaving for Davao, he said. Only one passenger needed.

It was a decision that I regretted the minute I handed the P400-fare. It was not so much the snug fit inside the vehicle. But when I tried to lean back I realized there was nothing there. You see, in my haste to get going, I just plopped myself on the available seat. I had no idea it was an extension.

I wanted so much to get my money back and get out of there, and, oh, to get my hands around that man’s neck, but it was raining buckets outside.

What made up for the discomfort was the company. It hardly mattered that my original plan to do some sightseeing would not come to fruition. Not from where I was seated, at any rate.

It was the hodgepodge of languages and races that would amaze a Cebuano traveler like me. I was flanked by a man who had just visited his 94-year-old mother in Tisa, Labangon and was on his way home to Tibungco in Davao City, and a father and daughter from Jolo. There was an Ilonggo in the front seat and one of the women behind me had just come from Tagbilaran in Bohol. I knew that because her partner called her every half an hour asking where she was. And we all heard what they were saying. (To be continued)