Literature and Narrative in New Media
Prof. Jochen Siess
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Just a few days before Christmas of 2005, I started one of many journeys throughout the beautiful regions of this country. The particularity of this trip I am about to illustrate relies in its life-changing meaning. Few episodes in my life might be considered as worthy stories to tell, but this one is especially an experience I do not mind sharing.
For those that do not know me yet, I am the kind of person that loves backpacking and being outdoors. For this reason, I try to take any given opportunity to run far away from this crowded city.
The adventure, as I like to call any unusual or exciting moment of my life, started when my family holidays for the winter of 2005 took place in Durango, just like every other year since I can remember. Before taking the twelve-hours bus from Mexico City to Durango, I heard about a an eco-tourism challenge with a route through the woods of Durango\u2019s Northwest region. One of my friends back then was interested in going, so she easily convinced me to join her. The only thing we had for sure was a roof at my Grandma\u2019s house for a couple days, then we figured out how to sign in to the competition.
Irma, my friend, and I were all packed up thinking we were ready to go. Soon we realized that the competition required teams made up from four to six participants. We rushed to find a team to join, but sadly we realize that no one was willing to have girls for team mates. They said we were not skilled enough to hike, climb and carry the gear needed; besides the fact that we were not used to the freezing temperatures of the mountains.
Just 10 hours before facing the start line, Irma finally met two guys in the same situation, and therefore willing to have us as part of their team. One of them was from San Luis, a tall funny guy with a lollypop and a teddy bear attached to its shirt. The other one, Pancho, even though was older and not in such a good shape as the first guy, seemed quite charismatic and claimed to be an expert in reading maps. By the next morning, all the glaring expectations I had about my teammates, quickly vanished when I found out they spent all night drinking and obviously forgot to pack the food we bought the previous night.
Even today I wonder how could I be so naive to trust my life to a pair of strangers for at least three days. Both girls hardly knew how to read a map and this was our first, if not only, hiking competition. Anyway, with no food, their hangover, my lack of experience and Irma\u2019s anxiety, the team hit the road totally conscious there was no chance we could win. A team of 6 slim guys from
Guanajuato wearing small shorts and carrying nothing but an 8x10 inches backpack came running by our sides, almost leaving a cloud of dust behind them. I went in shock, but my three team mates did not even changed their pace. Those guys had been training or months, meanwhile we were a group of amateurs dragging ten-kilograms rucksacks. We never rushed to run, we walked.
The main goal of the competition was to cross 100 km of a mountain chain during three days, with the danger of getting injured or lost, and therefore get the whole team disqualified. The traced route included several checkpoints to get water, along with the tasks or challenges given by the staff. Some of the challenges were: a canopy tour over a waterfall, rappelling down a cliff and climbing a radio tower at the top of a hill. By the end of each day, there was a final checkpoint at which all the teams had to arrive for resting and getting instructions.
Pancho, was our leader. Kiko was the tough guy that helped us with our bags and made us laugh every now and then. Irma became the team\u2019s cheerleader, mostly because of her obsession to always keep going. Luckily, I brought with me apples and energetic bars, so I happened to be the provider by smartly distributing our only supplies. Our journey took us across a road framed by small towns and cattle, that later turned into barely seen paths and cliffs. The wind seemed to blow harder and the temperature went lower as we proceeded into thick bushy landscapes. Our steps felt lighter and almost acquired a sense of automatic motion. Most of us had lost the track of time and distance, only Pancho was conscious of how far we were from each checkpoint.
Thirsty, hungry and longing for a bed to sleep, I tried to recall why I was there. There was no reason why I had to feel so uncomfortable and tired. But then I smelled the fresh scent of forest, the genuine glow of stars in a clean sky and stared at the human beings that had just revealed their souls to me during the course of the journey, so I praised God or the destiny that led me to that time and place.
The first night\u2019s checkpoint was inside an abandoned train-tunnel. We were part of the last teams to arrive, but certainly not the last one. Some teams got lost during the evening, and finally reached the camp till early morning. I spend the night freezing, wearing everything I owned and getting as close as possible to Irma, trying not to panic when the guys did the same thing to keep us all warm.
By the next day, some members of the staff encouraged us to surrender the race, due to our evident inexperience. They claimed that the upcoming roads were very difficult, thus impossible to access quickly in case we suffered any emergency.
Both guys were conscious that they could easily go on, but said there was no need to risk any of the girls. Deep inside I knew that the main reason why they were about to give up was because they did not want to have us as burden. But Irma would not give up so easy. Being as stubborn as she has always been, she cried, yelled and claimed that the whole team was strong enough to keep going, till the whole staff finally allowed us to continue. So, we did.
The landscapes of that day were even more astonishing than the first day. Highways, crop lands and houses were left far behind. The road flooded with tall pines and hills. Climbing was so exhausting that I almost left all my belongings hanging on a branch. The good part of going-up,
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?