A travel story for Saturday…
When we were traveling in Colombia, we wanted to hike up to Lago Iguaque, a lake at the top of a 3,600 m mountain in a national park. (See this post for photos of the hike)
We were staying at Hostal Renacer in Villa de Lleyva (by the way, one of the nicest backpackers that I have ever stayed at…and I have stayed at a few!) that offered a guide and a ride up to the mountain. So we crammed the five of us (a driver, our guide, and us three turistas) into a tiny Jeep and chatted as we bounced along on the rough roads for 45 minutes.
We enjoyed our lovely hike and, at the end of the day we returned to the bottom of the mountain to await our ride home. As we waited, four other hikers desperately raced up to us. “Help!” they pleaded, “We missed the last bus back to Villa de Lleyva, and we’ll be stuck on the mountain unless you can give us a ride back.”
My companions and I exchanged glances. It had been crowded with only three of us in the back of that little vehicle. How would we fit four more people? We were even more alarmed when it arrived and we saw that the driver had brought a friend to fill the front seat. But what could we do? We could not leave these poor hikers on the mountain. We had to find a way to fit eight people into a space designed for two.
On the way back, we were (all of us sweaty from hiking all day, and covered in barro (mud) from the mountain) crammed so tightly that I could move nothing but my right arm from the elbow down. Someone I did not know was sitting rather apologetically on my left knee and was packed tightly in against my shoulder, effectively immobilising that side of my body.
Our driver, a Spaniard, rather enjoyed the groans and grunts of pain that echoed from the mass of backpacker flesh as he hit every pothole. Of course, we were wiling to laugh at ourselves as well. It was a ridiculous situation, after all.
After the painfully long 45 minute ride back, the driver opened the back of the car and we came spilling out in a tangle of stiff arms and legs. As we lay in a crumpled heap on the ground, I couldn’t help but say, “I really feel, guys, that I have gotten to know you all quite well.”