The sense of adventure and excited spirits filled us as we winded along the roads of Bangued, to its outskirts and into the neighboring municipalities. The lush rice fields of Manabo were beautiful with several sightings of the Itneg rice granary, a small structure that I’ve only seen in these parts.
And then we stopped at the river. Only a road that led into the water and no bridge. We waited till the metal raft, a common sight in most river crossings in the province as bridges, unfortunately have not been constructed in many sections. It was a weird machinery. Pieces of metal sheeting and iron tubes and steel welded together. Off center is the driver’s seat, a small control area. At the center are wooden boards where vehicles will need to stand.
It took some 15 minutes before we started crossing. Another 10 minutes of actually crossing the river and about the same time getting off. Then you see the sweeping landscape, the blue sky dipping into the brown river surface, the mountains in between. For a moment, you forget these things and just fall silent and admire the rugged beauty of the river landscape.
But that was just the first crossing. We intend to do two more in the town of Luba. We crossed another, our second river onboard another metal raft. But unfortunately, with reasons that only our driver knows, was adamant of not crossing the third. He was already more than halfway into the rocky and shallow river but turned back, giving reasons that only he can fathom. We didn’t reason out. After a few calls, we waited for a backup vehicle.
The Luba landscape was another beautiful sweeping stretch of river, mountains and sky. If not for the cool wind, it would have been unbearably hot. We took shelter under the diminishing shadow of the truck. I took photos around of children looking for river fishes, investigated some fisherman’s traps and observed a raft with its owner ferrying people and motorcycles to the other side.
It’s a fascinating area. Almost devoid of shade trees near the river. Puddles were teeming with fish fry while the clear river water tributary at one side was merging with the muddy main river of Luba. Alas, with time running out and no back up jeepney coming, we decided to take a ride on an uncoming passenger vehicle.
To reach the passenger jeepney, we had to ride an outrigger boat to the other side. Walked a few meters and caught up with the vehicle. With no seat available inside, we took to the roof. It was another unexpected adventure, this time, stunning views of the rugged Cordilleras coming.
Thanx to Abra Vice Governor Chari Bersamin for making this trip possible. It was hard, it was unexpected but it was a beautiful and memorable experience!