(Copied from email)
Hi friends and family!
Well I wrote about this adventure I had last Thursday on my blog, but it got erased (grrrr) so I thought I'd share it with you on email since some of you probably don't read the blog and it's a pretty good story :)
Well last Thursday I had a grand adventure with Pri. She had asked me Tuesday if I would walk with her to Copan Ruinas. I can't say I really wanted to but since it was basically her last week here I said "ok". Over the next two days when we told people our plan they looked at us ike we were crazy, saying things like "You're not seriously walking are you?"..."You can't, no!"..."It'll take days"..."You gringas are crazy". Anyway we laughed and thought they ere overreacting mostly. On a map the road from Dulce Nombre to Copan Ruinas looks much more direct than the paved highway, which goes north an hour before turning south at La Entrada, which is another 2 hours to Copan Ruins. So driving, it's over 3 hours. But the direct road we were planning to walk is not paved, rocky, muddy, up and down mountains. So we didn't expect it to be easy, but I didn't think it would be TOO hard since we'd been walking so much anyway.
So we leave around 11 a.m., later than planned because of a library meeting with the Rieken people who are donating this great library to Dulce Nombre. Our friend Ryan Sim came into Dulce Nombre at the last minute to make the trek with us, and so we didn't mind too much forgetting the long metal stick we usually take with us on long walks for protection - we had a guy with us! We set off. The first few hours we are in high spirits, talking,making jokes, admiring the gorgeous views and countryside. It's greener than you could ever imagine. We walk through the towns of Las Caleras, Candelaria, Plan Grande, past the road to San Augustine, on our way to El Zapote de Santa Rosa (places people normally go in trucks, not on foot). We climb to the top of this mountain, not an easy feat, and see a sprawling view below. Pri says she thinks she sees Santa Rita below and optimistically says we are more than halfway. By then it is about 1 pm I think. We had been walking uphill for about 2 hours by that point. Yay, halfway there we think!
We keep on trekking. In the near distance we see a big black raincloud coming and hear the approaching thunder. It starts to drizzle, then gets stronger, the wind picking up. We stop, take out our rain jackets and umbrellas, wrap up our cameras and food in plastic bags, and keep on going. The rain feels good for a while, as we had been sweating a good bit. The mud starts to get a life of its own - we slip, slide down muddy hills. Every few steps we have to stop and scrape off the mud that cakes the bottom of our sneakers. I start to geta big discouraged when we get to El Zapote about 2:30 or 3 pm and we start to ask people how much further is Santa Isabel, where we planned to meet up with the paved highway and get a ride the short distance to Santa Rita and Copan Ruins. "Far, very far"..."How many kilometers?"..."Oh, very very far"..."Ok, how many hours walk"..."Oh, you can't...4 hours"...Another person: "6 hours"...a boy "A day". Answers that were not very encouraging. We trudge on, already exhausted (it is still drizzling). We walk through little towns and pass people that had probably never seen 3 gringos walking past their houses with their big gringo backpacks - we were in the middle of nowhere. In Quebraditas we pass an old man, who upon finding out where we are headed, gives us a warning in his hard-to-understand campesino Spanish: "The river is really swollen from the rain up ahead...you probably won't be able to pass". Pri thanks him for the information, but we have come this far and there is no way we can turn back now. My feet are killing me by this point. We finally get to a river, a rather large river. But the strange thing is there isa huge concrete bridge going across it! "Ha, that old man didn't know what he was talking about" Sim says..."It must have been ages since he has come here". We sit at the bridge for a while, resting and finishing up our snack foods. It is about 4:30 or 5 by that point and I start getting worried that we might not get there before dark. We get up and keep walking - we never know what's on the other side of the next mountain, but I hope it's Santa Isabel. The road is not really a road...more like a dirt path or rocky river bed. We see another river up ahead - oh great, we think, THIS must be the dreaded river. There is a tree branch laid across the brown rushing waters, with stakes sticking up vertically out of the water, apparently to hold onto during one's branch crossing. I look at this measley branch doubtfully. Pri goes slowly across slowly. I step up on the branch but get a sick feeling and don't thinkI can make it. Pri does a lot of yoga and has great balance, after all, I think - I am a klutz and if anyone falls into the water, it'll be me! I decide to wade across. But Sim starts across andtells me that it's not that bad, I can do it. I probably look comical as I went sideways across the branch - but I make it, with all my things dry and intact. Whew!
We are not far past the river when a pickup truck full of people comes from the opposite direction and passes us. The people are yelling "The river, the river! We couldn't pass!" Uh oh. So there's ANOTHER river. Maybe that old guy knew what he was talking about after all. We keep walking. It's about 5:30 now - we have to be close. We pass by an amazing trail of ants carrying cut up pieces of leaves. But what was amazing was they had made a bridge over a big mud puddle with themselves, other ants. The ant bridge was maybe 10 or 15 ants thick, with other ants walking over them with their cargo. God has made an amazing world of so many impossibly intricate details! Anyway we go on,walking determinedly towards the last hurdle in our journey - the big river. We hear it before we see it -up ahead, a swollen river is rushing over the road. And just on the other side we see the paved highway to Copan Ruinas, with cars and trucks rushing by. So we have to cross, somehow. As we approach the water's edge, on the other side comes a pickup truck. We wait and see, wanting the watch the truck go across so we can see how deep the waters are. But we realize the people in the truck are waiting for the same thing, for US to go across so they can see how deep the water is! Haha. We make hand gestures across the water - Come on, go ahead, you can go first. The truck hesitates and then plunges in, and for a moment it seems like it will be carried away by the current. The water is up to the windows. But it makes it across, the engine is steaming when it pulls up next to us. We make a weak attempt to bargain for a ride across the river, but realize that the truck probably wouldn' t make it again. So with much resignation we take off our sneakers, now very muddy, and tie them to our backpacks. We know we will be getting wet. Pri and I go in first, barefoot into the muddy waters, our backpacks raised above our heads, as if one were watching an Africa movie with an exploration party crossing a crocodile infested river with their cargo raised up. But no, this is real life. The water goes up to my ribs,obviously drenching my jeans and shirt. In the middle the current gets very strong and I am very orried I wouldn't be able to stay upright and keep my backpack (with my digital camera) out of the water. I plant my feet down though and make it across. The whole time Pri and I were struggling across, Sim was trying to get us to turn around for picturs and the video he was taking, and I am yelling, if I turn around I am going under, shut up Sim!! But Pri and I get to watch from the other side as Sim goes across in his boxers and with his huge pack raised over his head - very amusing. So our little walk turned out to be quite at adventure.
We trudge up the road, dripping wet, to the highway and flag down a tourist van headed to Copan Ruins. The Australians in the van look at us like we are crazy when we mention why we are so wet and muddy - "wasn't there a bus from where you came from?" they ask. I get off in Santa Rita to stay with my friends Danyel and David. I spent two nights with them. Many people in their town wanted to meet the girl who had walked there from Dulce Nombre...they didn't think it was possible. The trip ended up taking about 8 hours, by the way...we think maybe 30-40 km. They couldn't believe it. I didn't go to the actual ruins but the city was great, sort of another world, full of tourists taking pictures, great restaurants, and great shopping in stores filled with crafts like wood carvings and jewelry. On Saturday morning I went back to Dulce Nombre - on the bus.
Well hope you enjoyed the story! Sorry it was so long but I thought some of you sitting at your desks in an office might enjoy going on the adventure with me :)
More soon and lots of love,