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My Colombia adventures, part 3 (final episode)

Monday, October 27, 2008

The final adventure of last Tuesday was an hour-long ride on muleback in the midst of a heavy, prolonged thunderstorm. Our saddles were covered with big plastic sheets – slippery in the rain, of course. In some places the trail was a complete swamp with deep miry puddles; in other parts it was a narrow arroyo that plunged or climbed steeply between big rocks.

My mule insisted on retaining the lead (ahead of my husband's & one other ridden by a young woman we didn't know), & I was in awe to see her intelligence at work. At challenging points she would pause to evaluate the situation before deciding her route & hurrying forward to claim it before the other two mules caught up. All I had to do was to stay balanced as best I could. At one point she took me along a particularly steep incline, & at another point she chose to cross a rockface. She slipped a bit but never came close to falling.

For both my husband & me, that ride was an amazing, exhilarating experience. We’ll cherish the memory. My journal will be a constant reminder: it was at the bottom of my backpack & got completely soaked. Once it got partly dry, I could tell it could be salvaged. Back home, I laid it on the radiator cover, & it's now all dry though quite bedraggled. I didn’t lose any poems. emoticon

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Explanatory note: Plantains are a variety of banana; they're larger & starchier & often eaten while green. But never raw: they're sliced up & fried, or cut into chunks & added to soup. They're eaten a lot in the Caribbean & throughout Colombia.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHANSHE 11/2/2008 9:39AM

    WOW! That souns really amazing! So glad your journal is a great reminder for you!
Shan

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FITGIRL15 10/29/2008 1:40PM

    OMG... your story made me feel like I was right there on the mule with you! Very poetic, indeed!

Hooray for having such memories to cherish!

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STEPHANIEDIAN 10/28/2008 10:24PM

    How awesome that you got to ride a mule! Is it much like horseback riding? Sounds like you got the alpha-mule for sure!! :-) sounds like you had a lot of fun, and I'm glad your journal didn't get ruined!!!

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CTEMPLE 10/28/2008 5:43PM

    it must have been the alpha mule!
A travel diary just like Hemingway with real marks of wear.

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My Colombia adventures, part 2

Saturday, October 25, 2008

At Tayrona National Park on Tuesday I had a couple of other physically challenging experiences. Just after noon we were hiking through the rainforest from one beach to another, & we missed the turnoff & had to double back. I was wearing my trusty Camelbak & drank water regularly, but after a while I was getting weak & lightheaded. Finally we made it to the Piscina area & a little two-table home restaurant. I leaned over to get through another wave of dizziness & asked for something salty; a young man who was finishing his meal quickly gave me a patacon (green plantain mashed & fried with plenty of salt), & the elderly woman who was owner/cook provided a slice of plantain as well.

It’s funny how in that state one feels better just as soon as the salt is in one’s mouth. I was thankful to have known that was what I needed (happened to me once before after jogging in southern California, so I had read about it). Next time we'll make sure to bring along the tablets to put in our water to keep our electrolytes balanced.

Turned out the owner of that tiny restaurant was a great cook; her fried fish was one of the best meals we had all week.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

STEPHANIEDIAN 10/28/2008 10:22PM

    Sounds delicious. I'm amazed at how in tune with your body you are! That's great. There are tablets you can add to your water?

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SHANSHE 10/26/2008 2:50AM

    WOW!!! Sounds like you were MEANT to find this little restaurant! What are plaintains?
Shan

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My Colombia adventures, part 1

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's good to be back, but we had an exceptionally fabulous time on our Colombia vacation! There were several physically intense experiences in the course of it. I'm going to write about them one by one so as not to inflict a huge long post on y'all.

The first scary moment: a snorkeling expedition in deep water with a group of about 15 people, including three who DID NOT KNOW HOW TO SWIM. I was using my new snorkeling gear: lightweight fins that were not appropriate for paddling in strong waves & a mask that wasn’t tightly fitted. Saltwater kept getting into my mouth as I breathed, & my mask kept fogging up. Our young guide didn’t have time to help me get them adjusted properly; he had to attend to the nonswimmers (who were hooking desperately to a couple of small lifesaver rings) & was determined to take us all on a swim-tour around a small island, well away from the shoreline.

A good distance from the boat we had jumped off to begin our adventure, & having fallen well behind the rest of the group, I trod (treaded?) water, assessed my situation, & bellowed, “Ayudeme!” (Help me!). The guide detached himself from the group & came to my aid; he asked if I could make it back to the boat, & I said yes. I did see some beautiful bright fish on the way back (they hadn’t been evident before – I think they were spooked by the crowd). Then I sat unhappily in the bow for quite a while, feeling like a failure. But eventually my sister swam back to the boat too; it turned out that she had completely lost the group & nobody had come after her. Thank God she was able to make her way back around the island to the boat.

My sister has snorkeled quite a few times & is a strong & physically competent person, so finding out that she had not been able to “succeed” in this situation helped give me perspective. Then when the group finally showed up, we learned that they had all found the experience highly stressful & not very rewarding. My husband had helped one of the nonswimmers when she was floundering in the open ocean, & then he had hung onto one of the lifesavers himself; he was so glad I had gone back to the boat early on. Later we gave the guide some constructive feedback. emoticon

I did have a much more peaceful experience of snorkeling a few days later, this time at the Piscina beach in Tayrona national park. We got my mask properly tightened & I did considerable paddling around with no problems. It was important to "get back on the horse" & prove to myself that I can snorkel just fine.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

STEPHANIEDIAN 10/28/2008 10:20PM

    Wow that does sound like quite the adventure...I'm glad you turned around and were safe, doesn't sound like the guide should have been taking out 3 non-swimmers...but at least you got to try it again later with a more relaxing atmosphere.

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SHANSHE 10/26/2008 2:47AM

    WOW! What an adventure, but so glad that you got bac in the saddle! Also, glad you gave the guide some constructive feedback, we all need that from time to time.
Shan

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CTEMPLE 10/25/2008 3:24AM

    Dear Ruthie glad to have you back and in one piece!
If you go to a 3rd world country, you're not going to be protected against this kind of thing. That is the difference between a normal country and a 3rld world country although bad things happen in the first world too. I keep seeing 1st world tourists in the news in emergency situations in 3rd world countries and they're kind of shocked that there simply aren't the resources and the health and safety attitudes when things happen. Candid in my opinion!
Hope you recover soon from your adventures.
I'm not to good at the moment but it shows doesn't it?
Claudia


Comment edited on: 10/25/2008 4:42:31 AM

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Life keeps happening--now it's taking me on vacation

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oh my, there's a lot to update here & my time is short. Here's the main stuff:

1. I recovered fine from that fall 10 days ago--went running again last Friday & had no problems.

2. My sleeping is generally better. My doc did prescribe a different medication, but it has to be approved by the HMO so I'm not trying it out yet. In the meantime my body seems to be calming down a bit--for the moment at least.

3. EARLY tomorrow morning we take off for a week in the Caribbean port city of Cartagena, Colombia! We'll be staying in a friend's condo with my sister & brother-in-law & my brother. They haven't been back to Colombia for 14 years, so this is a very big deal for them. I am looking forward to snorkeling & hiking & contemplating beautiful coastline & just hanging out with my loved ones.

In the meantime I have been hustling to get as much work done as possible so I don't leave my colleagues holding too many balls. I've skimped on exercise & taken one project home to work on after hours. Still, it looks as if my major project will languish till I get back, but that's the way it goes sometimes. I haven't been around to post much here either & will probably be away from SP till Oct. 23 or 24. I'll miss you, Sparkfriends!

A final happy anecdote: I haven't been losing weight at all, but this morning as I approached the door of my workplace I said hi to a (younger--in his 30s?) colleague who was smoking on the sidewalk. He said, "Are you doing something special to look so slim & fetching?" He never flirts with me--this was more like a brotherly comment. Definitely made me feel good!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CTEMPLE 10/16/2008 4:01AM

    What a thrill to receive a comment like that Ruth! Have a wonderful time!
Claudia

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SHANSHE 10/14/2008 11:14PM

    Good to hear from you. Enjoy your vacation and nice comment from the guy.
Shan

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FITGIRL15 10/14/2008 5:54PM

    "slim & fetching"??? OMG, who is this guy... but send him MY WAY! LOL Compliments like that can't help but tickle you! What a great day!

Enjoy your holiday and family time! We will iss you too!!! emoticon

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So the next thing that happened was . . .

Monday, October 06, 2008

After a couple of nights of GOOD sleep, I went out running on Saturday. My husband helped me figure out the heart monitor, so I wore that. I found that my heart rate during my normal jogging/running is up between 160 & 180! That's right at the top of my MAXIMUM according to the Karvonen calculations--seems crazy since I've been running for years. Later I did some researching of the topic in SP & eventually read a statement by Coach Dean that some people's actual aerobic heart rate can vary by 10% or more from the recommended levels. That was reassuring, but it means that I have to figure out my own best ranges rather than relying on charts & calculators.

About 20 minutes into the run, I fell--tripped on broken sidewalk & went sprawling. I lay there briefly to figure out how badly I was hurt. A man stopped at the corner, a few feet away, & watched to make sure I was OK. I rolled over, picked up my water bottle, & stood up. The damage proved to be lightly skinned palm pads, several bleeding fingertips, & a skinned right knee that bled just a bit. Oh, & a wrenched left elbow, for which I took ibuprofen a couple of times; the pain was gone by the next day. Needless to say, I walked the rest of the way & got myself cleaned up & bandaged once I was home.

Last night I had nasty insomnia again. I do practice good sleep hygiene, but this is a stubborn problem. I have my annual checkup on Friday, though, & am hoping my doctor will help me figure out some new options.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FITGIRL15 10/10/2008 1:15PM

    Oh no! Falling in mid run is NEVER fun! I hope you are OK!

emoticon

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SHANSHE 10/7/2008 3:49AM

    OUCH!!!!

I hope your doc can help you figure out something that will work for you...
Shan

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