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Standing at almost five feet eleven inches tall, sun-kissed skin, with a pompadour hairstyle, the tricycle driver alighted from his motorcycle and walked right up to Brenda.
“Hello!” The driver flashed a smile that could launch a thousand toothpaste commercials. “I’m Luke. You saved my grandma back at the ship.”
Brenda stood frozen, staring deep into Luke’s hazel brown eyes. Suddenly getting visions of typical Harlequin romance book cover art, where a well-chiseled man holds a woman in his arms, she curled a smile on her face before uttering in a soft, high-pitched voice, “Hi there.”
Girlie and Phil gave Brenda a strange look, which Brenda instantly noticed.
“Finally! We’re saved!” Brenda exclaimed while running towards Luke, raising both hands high in surrender. “We, uh, kinda be… are heading to Tukuran Falls,” she stammered.
Dimitri moved towards Luke. “Hey, man, we’re going to Tukuran. Someone suggested we walk but it’s taking us forever to get there. Do you know another way to the falls?”
“Actually, I’m also headed to Tukuran but I can only accommodate two passengers in my trike. Usually, there’s a carabao carriage that passes by to escort tourists to that site.
“And I think, here it comes,” Luke replied, nodding toward the direction of the falls and waving at the driver of the carabao carriage that just finished dropping off some tourists.
“What a lucky day for us, walking for hours only to ride a carabao carriage the rest of the way. Eeeewww…..” Brenda grunted.
The rest of the group overheard what Brenda said and wondered what had gotten to her to so act strangely this morning. They didn’t bother pressing her about it, though. They assumed she was just in one of her typical mood swings.
As the carriage approached, the group decided to divide themselves. All the boys would be riding the carriage while the girls would be with Luke on his tricycle. After twenty minutes of traveling on a very rough road, they finally arrived at their destination.
It was almost noon, the sun at its peak causing people to sweat profusely. In the horizon stood a magnificent waterfall, the rush of water thunderous even from afar. As violent as it sounded, the falls only attracted more people to go near it, as if it were a sanctuary against the scorching heat of the sun.
There were many tourists enjoying the clear and fresh water at the base, most of them swimming along the riverbanks, while the more daring ones jumped from the side of the falls.
“We’re here!” both Drew and Phil shouted excitedly, grabbing their bags immediately.
“Wow! What a sight! I wanna try jumping from the top too. Come on guys, let’s go and finally start this amazing day!” Dimitri chimed.
“Aren’t you all quite energetic,” Brenda said as she dismounted the tricycle. “I’ll look for a place for us to leave our things and eat later. It is almost lunchtime.” Brenda turned and saw Girlie almost tripping as she stepped out of the vehicle. “Oh! Easy now, Girl.” Brenda clutched Girlie’s arm and walked her towards the bench at the waiting shed.
“I think I’ll pass too. I’m a little bit dizzy from the ride here,” Girlie said to the boys.
“Suit yourselves. We’ll leave our stuff to your care then,” Dmitri shrugged. “Drew! Phil! Come on, let’s go before we eat lunch,” Dimitri called to the boys, leaving their belongings to both Girlie and Brenda before running towards the hanging bridge and the stair-like trail to reach the top of the falls.
After parking the tricycle, Luke approached the girls. “There’s an available hut on the other side of the river. I can help you guys move your things.” He started picking up the bags one by one.
“Thank you, Luke, for all your help. Those boys didn’t even think about how heavy their bags are for the two of us to carry. By the way, we forgot to introduce ourselves. I’m Girlie and my doctor friend here is Brenda.”
“Nice to finally meet you,” Luke smiled at them, hands too preoccupied for a handshake. “Let’s go to the hut and I’ll help you set up for lunch.”
“Luke, why not join us for lunch later? It’s the least we can do after everything you’ve done for us today,” Girlie said as they crossed the crystal clear yet slippery river.
“These rocks sure are- Woah! Wooooaaahh! Aaaaaaahhhh… Amp!” Brenda cried out as she lost her footing, flopping onto Luke’s broad shoulders for support.
“Brenda, are you alright?” Luke asked while supporting Brenda. “You know, we can take it slow.” Luke flashes a boyish smile. “We’re almost there, anyway.”