I’ve ridden in dozens of different types of vehicles over the past year. Each country has its own system of transportation, but they all have a cheap method of getting from one place to the next. In the Philippines, it’s the jeepney, but remember, you get what you pay for. Here’s how I get back to Nature’s Healing Home after being in town.
- Sit and wait in the sweltering heat until the driver thinks the jeepney is full enough to depart. It will be about 20 people after you’re certain that not another person could possibly fit. It is not uncommon to wait 30-60 minutes or more.
- If you didn’t think to take your phone out of your pocket before boarding, then you will just have to sit and stare into space. It is impossible to remove anything from your pockets without deeply offending the people next to you.
- The driver will open the hood, start the engine, and possibly leave a few minutes later. Enjoy the breeze when you finally start to move.
- Be patient when the driver stops for gas or to make a delivery.
- Don’t talk unless necessary. You will soon join the other passengers and enter a trance-like state in order to endure the ride. Note: My most entertaining ride came when McTery was sleeping and fell into the lap of a man across the aisle as we went around the curve. Everyone laughed for about ten minutes, except McTery.
- You can hold the handrail on the ceiling, but it might not be necessary. Sometimes you’re so tightly squeezed in that you won’t even budge going up the mountain switchbacks.
- Expect to encounter many construction sites that will feel like a roller coaster and send waves of dust into the vehicle.
- If someone hands you money, it is not a gift. You are meant to pass it along the row until it finally reaches the driver. If your money is not already in your hands, you can pay when you get off.
- Wiggle your toes as much as possible to keep your feet awake. If you’re lucky, only one foot will be asleep when you arrive at your stop.
- Say “para” or tap coins on the handrail or bang on the roof when you want to exit. There is no graceful way to exit a jeepney. Just crawl over the aisle of packages and legs while trying not to hit your head on the low ceiling or fall into someone’s lap. If you have a package, the person near the exit will hold it for you while you stumble out onto the road.
- Hobble up to the driver while avoiding traffic and pay your 15 pesos (30 cents in the US).
I’ve been privileged to not have to rely on jeepneys for daily use. Many Filipinos ride them every day to and from work and school and I often see long lines of people waiting for their ride during rush hour. The people here are very patient, friendly and helpful even when having to face such challenging conditions. I’ve learned a lot about patience and kindness by riding jeepneys with Filipinos.