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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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