It was a tiring drive, however quick it was. We got to our destination in less than three hours. I was looking forward to sleeping, to having the serene Majayjay bounties cradle me to sleep. But such was the beauty of the small town’s attractions that I couldn’t resist staying up, even if I’ve been there before (it was my second time and I don’t think it will be my last). For 60 bucks per person, and an additional P200 for a cottage, we were pulled out of the personal ruts we were all stuck in. Each person in our clique was complaining of either boredom, stress or frustration. Our spur-of-the-moment decision to leave the city was paying off.
Soon, Che was in the water making up for the summer that slipped by (“Tapos na ang summer, di man lang ako nakapag-beach!”). I’m sure it more than made up for sandy shores she missed frolicking in. We asked the kind manangs of the resort to buy us lunch from the town market, which they kindly agreed to do. I laid my weary body down the picnic table, but the babbling brook just would’t let me sleep. I got up, put on my surf shorts, and joined Che in the water.
The water was so cold that I decided to wade in it for a while. It was so pristine it washed way everything we wished to be rid of. I hopped from rock to rock until I was underneath the bridge that connected the parking lot to the other side of the stream, where our cottage was. I thought, maybe I should work myself out a bit. Perhaps sweating it out would enable my body to stand the icy temperature of the water. I picked a spot where the sun could shine on me and relaxed.
Che got enticed and went over to where I was. In my head, I started thinking about how tragic it would be if she slipped on one of the rocks and cracked her skull. I watched keenly and guided her on which trail was the safest.
Then, it was Norman’s turn to join in. Anya was more interested in sleeping, so we just let her be. After a few minutes of camera whoring, Norman followed to where Che and I were. It wasn’t long before he, too, was in the water.
The water was more bearable by then, but I still couldn’t get myself to just swim in. Maybe if I just jumped in, it’d be easier for me. Great idea, I thought.
I walked back to our cottage where Anya was sleeping. It was a bit elevated, providing the necessary height for my jump. I asked Che to swim toward the area I was targeting to jump in to check how deep the water was. The water was a little above her waist from where she was standing, but she said the area right in front of her was deeper. Perfect. That was to be the contact point.
After feigning a few times, off I leapt, like a cannonball, legs tucked in, knees almost to my chin.
It was effective.
Despite the big splash, I didn’t feel the cold at all. Instead, what I felt was this terrible pain on both my shins. So painful that I had to hold on to Che, unintentionally dragging her with me. When I surfaced, Che was harping about how she almost fell and drowned. And all I could say was, “Tumama ako.“
I haven’t even seen my leg yet but I kept telling Che that it was deep. She wanted to see how bad it was. I took a quick peek and saw that it was bad. I told her she won’t be able to take it. She insisted. When I showed her, she had to cover her mouth in incredulity. Right below my knee, above my shin, was this gaping wound. It was pasty white, like how your skin looks when you’ve accidentally shaved off a part of it. Only this was much bigger. Like a portion of my flesh was scooped out. The gentle current was dragging away some of the torn flesh. I thought I even saw the bone at the center of the laceration. It was that big and that deep.
With a limp, I forced my self to get out of the water to fetch my toiletry bag. I fished out a bottle of betadyne and used it to clean the wound. Anya was woken up by the commotion. Upon seeing my wound, then bleeding profusely, she took a small block of ice meant for the Coke, wrapped it in my sarong, and told me to apply it on my swollen wound. Norman and Che asked the resort staff for some first aid materials, and came back with box of gauze and masking tape.
There was a moment before jumping off when I thought, “This could turn ugly.” And it did.
I didn’t want to spoil the fun by rushing everyone so I can get some medical attention, so I tried to bear the pain. We even had lunch first, feasting on a plate of grilled liempo, eating with our bare hands. (Sobrang sarap niya, Che was craving for that liempo the other night). But I was afraid the injury will get infected if not attended to immediately. It was so painful my leg started to throb. I had to require help in changing into dry clothes.
We left Majayjay a little past noon. We drove all the way to Santa Cruz, Laguna, the provincial capitol, to look for a hospital where they could stitch up my wound. I was convinced I needed one or two stitches, though everyone else thought a simple disinfecting was enough.
I wanted to admit myself to the provincial hospital (past experiences had taught me government hospitals still have the best doctors). After one of the doctors finished attending to a mother whose baby might have been suffering from dengue, she confirmed that I might need one stitch, and that they’ll have to inject ATS (which I later learned meant, Anti-Tetanus… something). She said I just had to sign up and wait for my turn, which may take a while because there were a lot of other patients. When I looked around, there were patients on wheelchairs, with bandages on their heads, with tubes running from their wrists. One was even on a gas tank. I felt diminished by my trifling concern (Malayo sa bituka! Samantalang yung iba, dine-dengue na). The doctor said it may take an hour or so, but at least it’s free. All I had to pay for was the meds.
I looked at Che, who mirrored the defeated look on my face. Then the doctor offered another option. There were a few private hospitals on the same street where the provincial was. There were probably less patients, but I’d have to spend a bit more. I decided to do that instead.
right in front of the provincial hospital.We drove out of the provincial hospital and looked for one of the hospitals the doctor mentioned. “Holy Family,” she said. We drove back and forth only to realize that it was.
When I walked into the emergency room, it was empty. It looked like the hospital was closed for the day. The congenial security guard had to call for the nurse, who eventually called for the doctor. It took him just one look before declaring that I’d need three stitches.
Now, I have this horrendous, frankenstein-like beauty mark on my leg. I still can’t walk in a normal pace, and I have to take this capsule every six hours for seven days. That’s what I get for not following my gut.
At least I’m bound to remember this trip for eternity. I need only to look at my shin to be reminded of my tragic out-of-town trip that Independence day weekend of ’06.