Friday, October 12, 2007

Wouldn't Wish It On You

Last night Krsiten and I went to the bus station on our way to Ambato then to a small town called Salinas and then on to Baños. Turns out there were no buses to Ambato. So we decided to go bike riding with the people that Kristen stays with and some friends.

The day began before 7am. We drove down to Latacunga to rent the remaining bikes that we needed and work out logistics. I was a bit nervous because I don't really know how to ride a bike. When we got there, we rented the bikes, packed into the backs of two different trucks, and were on our way. I stood up in the back of the truck as we flew down the highway, thinking this would be a cool experience.

We arrived and unloaded our bikes. Turns out we were on a highly advanced path at Cotopaxi, which is where you wanna be if you don't know how to ride a bike. I struggled terribly at first, but eventually got the hang of it enough to keep on moving. I even rode right through one large water puddle, though my feet got soaked.

I was falling off the bike a lot, sometimes even falling over the handle bars. I tried to heed the words of Rocky and get back up no matter how much it hurt. I ran into many bushes on the side of the path. I had trouble even getting on the bike, which left my ass a bruised mess. We reached another large water puddle and I was determined to ride through it. I had trouble starting, but eventually did, and I was doing it! Until halfway, when I fell right into the water, soaking everything.

It became colder and colder and my body was extremely tired from putting so much energy into trying to start the damn bike again and again. And from falling numerous times. I was drenched. It started to hail and rain hard. The temperature drops rapidly here in Ecuador when that happens. I was freezing. We all were, but I was the only one to fall into a giant puddle of water.

I was exhausted, frustrated, and ashamed that I was holding up the group. We were walking along train tracks and there wasn't enough room for me to start the bike and balance. As it turns out, we were lost. At least that wasn't my fault.

I got rid of my soaking wet t-shirt after sweet, mild-mannered, would-never-hurt-a-fly Kristen yelled, ¨Put on my fucking jacket!¨ at me. She grabbed a spare sweatshirt from her roommate. So there after, things started to look really bad. I wondered what would happen if we didn't find our way back. As it turned out, I wasn't alone in thinking potentially morbid thoughts at that moment. Then we saw a fire off in the distance. We went to it and it was a logger by the name of Jose, cutting down trees with his family. Our bikes were loaded on Jose's truck and we were all ready to go (Kristen yelled at me again, to sit inside the truck) when we realized some of our party was missing. We spent what felt like eternity by the fire trying to warm up. We all were soaked and freezing. Finally everyone was there, but by then I gave up my spot inside the truck.

Instead I sat in the back, still very cold and wet, with a bent nail stabbing me in the back of the head every once in a while. I don't know how long that truck drive was, but it felt like it took a really long time. Jose dropped us and our bikes off by the highway. We were still over an hour away from our new base in Latacunga. Someone phoned a truck that had taken us to that horrible mountain in the first place. It took him over an hour to get to us as we all froze waiting, trying to stay warm. When he finally arrived, we packed all the bikes and all but three of us into the small back of the truck. I was lodged between a bike and the edge of the truck. When the truck started to move, it was so windy and cold that we all ducked for cover. I hid the top half of my body in between the bikes, while my bottom half was still jammed between the side of the truck and another bike.

Finally we made it to one of the survivor's home and his parents gave us hot chocolate and grilled cheese sandwiches as we changed into any dry clothes we had with us. Afterward, Kristen and I boarded a bus for Ambato and then transfered to Baños, which is where I am now.

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