Riding in a coach on the way to San Diego, Ibarra notices change in streets that used to be unpaved and full of potholes, which prisoners used to fill while receiving lashes from a whip as people rushed by in coaches without noticing. Now Ibarra crosses resplendent carriages pulled by beautiful ponies and even thinks he spies Father Dámaso riding in a particularly classy victoria. He goes by a tobacco factory whose offensive smells remind him pleasingly of his childhood. A new botanical garden, though, brings him back to the current moment, making him think of his time in Europe.
Ibarra’s passage through the streets of his childhood shows how much his country has changed since he left. More importantly, these changes are the result of Spain’s growing influence, which Ibarra recognizes in the beautiful carriages and, to a greater extent, the botanical garden that reminds him of Europe. In this moment, the immediate, visible effects of colonialism come to the forefront of Ibarra’s consciousness, showing him that European customs have replaced (rather than mingled with) Filipino customs.