Saturday, January 30, 2010

Take the Donkey

You know when something seems like a great idea and then by the time you realize it really isn't, you are in way too deep to do anything about it? 

Yes, well in this particular case it was kind of a near-death experience...

It all began one misty day at Laguna Quilotoa, Ecuador. This was the most incredible volcanic crater lake (okay, the only one) I have ever seen. 

"Want to climb down the mountain to get a better look?" 

"Of course!" 

So, on we went, traversing the slightly trodden and very uneven terrain, sliding and almost falling when there was no solid place to put your feet. We reached the base of the crater and the lake was even more deliciously teal, and the place more serene than it had seemed from the top. It was worth the trek down. 

We spent a few minutes soaking up the photo ops, chatting with some local people, and just taking it all in before we decided to head back up. A boy no more than six, with rosy-cheeks common to the native local people, was selling burro rides back up the mountain. 
Fellow adventurer: "You should take the donkey so you don't get tired." 

Unsuspecting me: "I'll be fine, plus I trust my own feet better than that donkey!" Let's do this. 

Two whole minutes into 

No, not hard,  it was more like deciding to climb a mountain immediately after running a 5k, with a 20 pound weight on your back, all the while breathing only through one if those tiny straws they drop in your cocktail at the bar! 

This high altitude is not a joke. I think I am going to die. I am going to die right here on this mountain. What exactly does a heart-attack feel like? I am not going to make it. Okay, my family would not be pleased if I died right here. I have to keep going. It's okay...I am almost...HALFWAY?! 

Great. I wonder if it would be worse to go back down and get the donkey? I should have listened. 

Somehow, and only narrowly escaping death, I finally made it back to safety more exhausted than I can ever remember being in all of my existence. I am alive! I am alive and it was worth it. No matter how healthy and fit you think you are, or how macho and proud you are feeling that day, trust me...take the donkey. 


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