I’m sitting on my deck over the pool. It’s just after a refreshing rainstorm, Shakira is singing to me about how much she deserves whatever’s underneath this guy’s clothes, and I’m perfectly content because I really, truly had an adventure today!
Any of you dummies who’ve ever wanted to metaphorically tell me to take a hike, don’t worry about it. I took a real one today! Better yet, I scaled a cliff!
All of it was quite by accident, of course. I’ve just had a couple of days of relaxifest and felt like I should take a walk or something, perhaps in the jungle where I could forgo the UVAs and UVBs. I knew vaguely of some sign saying “climbing area” and another saying “lookout spot” so I put on a cute stripey shirt and some flip-flops, thinking I’d have a meander and a gander.
My first path took me here:
which is Railay East, lying parallel to the beach on which I’m staying. I stopped briefly to thank the reservation gods that I’d chosen correctly- because this is beautiful but looks sort of haunted- and continued. My goal was to get to the top of this thing:
“Yes! Rope. Rope for you.” So I continued on a pleasant flat journey, thinking it would be one of those long, pretty, gently sloping switchback trails.
Instead, ahoy! I saw this:
It had ropes, but was also straight up STRAIGHT UP and I wondered if I was the victim of one of those cruel jokes where you give a tourist suicidal directions and watch her do the jackass dance. Since I heard people behind me, I sort of twiddled around waiting to see what they’d do, but they passed me.
“Screw it,” I thought, “you probably only live once. And if not, the silver lining will be that I’ll find out in 12 or 13 seconds.”
I started to haul myself up, still thinking that at the top of the rope, there’d be a path. I figured it would just be cliffy (cheers!) at the beginning. But nope. It was grip, lift, and balance the whole entire way, and I was feeling exhausted, sore, sweaty… and STRONG when I got to the top. I gave myself a sure-footed award, and decided it would be ice cream.
At the summit was my easy little path and it was just a couple of minutes of peaceful walk to the lookout, albeit in a real life jungle. Usually I soft-foot my way through the underbrush pretending I’m either Katniss or the last of the Mohicans, but a bunch of bugs were making out with my legs and I figured the louder I was, the less likely a snake would be inclined to join the orgy. Plus I was panting like post-Derby Orb, so there was really no point in trying to tread quietly. The view, according to theme, was also breathtaking:
But then it was time to leave.
I’m not sure how it happened, but as I was using every single one of my muscles trying to descend, I passed a couple of English speakers puffing in the opposite direction. I shied away, fearful of my smell, as they greeted me.
“Oh, going to the lagoon? I wouldn’t recommend it. Really tough climb alone.”
Wait, lagoon? I had intended to skip that in my spent state, but apparently I had taken a wrong turn. And of course in their kindly and wise advice, I heard a challenge.
I found a level spot and stood there long enough to calm my breathing to inaudible, since the huffing was kind of ruining the moment. Tidal appreciation swept me because of WOW, that’s pretty…
The mud kind of stank, though, and I choose that word carefully because it was true in every sense. Flip-flops seemed, in retrospect, Big Dumb, and my shirt wasn’t cute anymore and all my rivulets were cutting through the layer of orange that had settled on me.
I kept moving toward the lagoon, but it was getting progressively more slippery and vertical, and when it became apparent that I would have to do some hand-over-hand rope lowering- and then climbing, on the way back- I realized I had to call a spade a spade and fold. Without a partner or being properly clad, it seemed pretty stupid to chance my life further. Shoot, I didn’t even want to bleed! Who knows what the wild things like smelling?
The rope was like a polio vaccine in that without it, I didn’t like my odds against crippling. It was especially true because I knew I was on my last leg, hopefully not literally. At some point, I sat down for a break and to gather my wits. I had been having these streaks of descending so efficiently that I was getting these rushes of self-congratulatory chest-beatingness, which made me wary of getting a little too arrogant and making a dumb mistake. I knew all it would take was a monkey- they were hanging out with me near the treetops, except they were wearing their evolutionary camo so I didn’t get a good picture- to surprise me and I could lose my grip and hurtle.
The only option was down and on the rocks, and I don’t like myself like I like my whiskey.
Adventure Central Time here, and man, I’m gonna miss those monkeys…