Crazy, what we won’t do for a beautiful view and experience.
But when you have a different, slightly more comfortable idea in your head, the reality is more hardcore and, of course, more intense. And it is all the more intense at the moment when you cannot back down because you are the only one in the jungle. And from another civilization, you have several more days of walking with a high guide with a sabre in his hand, with which he cuts our path. At any moment you have to cross an abyss, stick to the roots of the trees on one side and pray that you do not slip on slippery roots and into the abyss on the other. Don’t expect any barriers, no safety precautions. You are in the jungle here. You are out of civilization here. When you scream in pain, no one will hear you. These thoughts I had all the time as I prayed and focused on my every move. The thought that if I slip and fall into the abyss, even the helicopter won’t fly for me.
Far from everything. Far from help. Only me, my boyfriend and our guide, who puts the local moma drug under his tongue every 20 minutes. He has a sabre in his hand. That he could cut our way through this wild jungle. How trusting we are. We only met this man an hour ago in the city. My rational self defies itself. Now we go with him on a motorcycle to the first point, out of town. We paid him to be our guide when he introduced himself to us as a local guide and showed us the hike plan we would undertake. It seemed like the best offer we’ve seen so far. So, we took it. In addition, nothing can happen to us, he is a guide from the official tourist office.
Suddenly it’s just you. The paths are mostly so narrow that only one person can walk. Therefore, we don’t talk so much. In addition, our guide is not a very talkative type. We won’t learn much from him.
After two hours of walking in a very hot, but at the same time humid jungle – moreover, after about two hours of sleep in a night bus from Manila – when we just climb and jump over wet rocks in rivers all the time, I start to have difficulties with walking. Is it because I slipped in the second river and got my shoes wet? And wet shoes in the jungle, that’s not really nice. Maybe I feel worse because we climb and I have knee health problems? I guess I just don’t have a physique. But I’m not complaining, I’m not complaining. Maybe there’s still a way back? We’ve only been on the road for a few hours, but so far it’s the hardest hike in my life. I have so many thoughts in my head. But I’m not saying anything.
Our guide turns back and looks at me silently. Suddenly, he throws himself with a sabre in his hand into a small abyss, which is full of growing bushes, lianas and trees. I scream in fright. This may be the moment when he attacks and robs us. Or he saw an animal and now he wants to neutralize it. I look at my boyfriend, who comes to me in the meantime. We don’t know if we should start panicking. Everything happens in seconds. We call our guide to see if he is alright.
I haven’t recovered from the shock yet. But he is standing already in front of me, in one hand his meter sabre and in the other holding a cut branch. He made me a walking stick! Silently, with a smile, he handed it to me. I looked at it and saw that he had even cut out a handle at a height that matched me. I looked at him and thanked him with tears in my eyes. He replied briefly that I can hike better with it. Just a little thing, isn’t it? But I was moved to tears. Because of the walking stick. At that moment, it was as if something was changed with me and I began to trust the man.
He was taciturn. But when he said something, it was striking, like the bells of a local church. With his eyes and gaze, he told us more than he could put into words. And he laughed as he waited for the two of us, with a brief comment that it wasn’t perhaps the best idea to take a 10kg backpack. He meant, of course, mine. That backpack was so big that it protruded over my shoulders to my head. For example, walking over the abyss, when the balance was what your life depended on, I was swinging like a plush dog’s head on the back of a car, not the most ideal. That wasn’t even funny, rather dangerous.
At the end of the hike, when we said goodbye to him, we found out that we had actually been “kidnapped” by a local group of non-official guides, who forced their program on us, claiming that the travel agency had been moved to another (their) location for reconstruction. We trusted them. When we were back in town a few days later, we accidentally came across a travel agency building. Did we go inside, where they looked at us as if created when we asked them if they had renovated the building in recent days? We were deceived! Kidnapped! That audacity! How could we believe them? They had it so perfectly coordinated. But you know what? Actually, we just laughed. We were outwitted by the nicest group of local people who just wanted to make money.
And what happened to my walking pole?
In the first village (about 5 houses), where we slept and met other pilgrims in the guest house in the evening, I woke up in the morning, got ready, had breakfast, and with our backpacks ready to go out. But I did not find my pole in its place in the morning. Instead, there was prepared another, more durable one. Our guide came to me and said that he had seen that the first stick was not very suitable for me and so safe. He told me that he went for a walk in the jungle in the morning and cut out a new one. Again, my emotions knew no bounds.
I never mentioned that the sticks wouldn’t suit me. But my knee problems were calling to the world when the stairs in the rice fields became suffering for me. Yes, I probably didn’t have to tell him anything. But he saw my tears of pain. That’s why I was moved. He made me something that helped me get back on my feet, so the hike was more acceptable for me.
It’s interesting how trusting a human being is. There are three of you, in the wilderness. You rely on one stranger in front of you, with a sharp weapon, and every moment chewing moma – the drug of local people. You want to trust him. And after the first day in the wilderness, you have to trust him. There is no going back, just forward.