Note: This is just a short except from this journal that I'm posting because I made reference to it in my final message. The rest of this journal will be posted eventually.
Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008
Finally we started the trek...initially, we were just on a dirt road and it seemed like a stroll in the woods. We came to a river crossing after about 15 minutes. As I tried to jump from rock to rock, I slipped on the last one and my foot plunged into the water. Damn it...already wet after just a few minutes. All I could think about for the next few minutes was how uncomfortable I was going to be having a wet shoe and sock all day. I had no clue what was in store. That shoe and everything else I had with me would not only be completely soaked by the end of the day...none of it would even by remotely close to dry again for the next 5 days!
After a crossing the river a couple more times we finally started our ascent. Whoa...it was very steep and I was not having an easy time adjusting. It was VERY hot and I started feeling the pain and embarrassment of going several months without having done any real exercise. I’m a competitive person by nature and there is nothing worse than slowing your whole group down as you struggle with each step and struggle to catch your breath. “Good” I thought to myself. I needed to be punished for being so lazy the past several months. I turned my focus to the trail and thought “you will not beat me!” I trudged forward but fell behind the group a little and suddenly found myself alone, pushing hard for each breath but not stopping. As I started to get to the top of the first peak, I stopped to look around. WOW!! It is so beautiful up here! I was overwhelmed by it. Right about then it started to sprinkle. Great. These paths are dirt and I know it would get muddy quickly. This was about to get a lot harder. Ten minutes later, as I climbed a steep incline again, the heavens opened up and it turned into an all out downpour. I fought my way up the incline, out of breath, soaking wet and tired and as I got over the top I realized tears were flowing. I was overcome with a wave of happiness. Not only for what I have accomplished, but for what I was doing. It was pouring down rain, I was exhausted and standing on a mountain, alone, in the middle of the Colombian jungle...and I could not have been happier to be where I was. I raised my hands in triumph and let the rain soak my skin. It was the happiest moment of my entire life. A virtual baptism of sorts. I’m in the right place and doing my thing. I belong here, on this mountain, right now. Life is so beautiful...I never what this feeling to end.
After a few minutes, I collected myself and was able to move forward. But suddenly, it wasn’t so hard anymore. Suddenly I didn’t feel the exhaustion. I smiled and it broke into a laugh and before I knew it I was just laughing my ass off. I can’t believe I was worried about one shoe being a little wet just 2 hours before! There wasn’t one inch of me that was dry now! I also started to think that kick off of the Notre Dame game was right about at that same moment. For the second week in a row I had started the day upset that I was not going to be able to watch my beloved Irish and for the second week in a row I was getting rewarded 100 times over for that “sacrifice”. Last week, I was swimming with dolphins in the open ocean, and now this week I was beginning a true adventure in the jungle in Colombia. Sure, I could have chosen to keep the comfortable life and great job in Boston and I’d be sitting at the Sports Grill with my great buddies right now...but look where I am dammit!! THIS IS LIFE! Before coming on this trek, Jodi and I both were scared and uncomfortable with the idea of walking for 6 days in the jungle. “That’s why we have to do it is what I told her.” I have seen it time and time again...you must push yourself in life. You have to step out of your comfort zone. It will do amazing things for you as a person.