Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Day I Became a Legend

Carnavales: Part 2

I already alluded in this blog a little bit to what the festivities that take place during Carnavales are like; but nothing prepared me for Tuesday, March 8, 2011.

I was invited to participate in a Carnavales party in Coya, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet new contacts and build relationships with my existing contacts.

Margot told me we would be heading up a mountain, that there would be some dancing, and that it would be a really good time.

I had no idea what I was getting us all in to…

We, a group of eight North Americans and Kathy, arrived in Coya shortly after 9 am, to be met by Margot, and to begin our hike. She had said, “up the mountain,” but I understood that to mean, well, a short distance up the mountain. I did not realize that it would mean hiking five kilometers up a couple thousand feet.

But that’s what it meant.

When I finally made it up to the top, the merriment had already begun; there was dancing, various food and beverages being offered, and foam being sprayed.

I was almost immediately asked to dance. Over the course of the day, we danced, ate and drank, three different men asked me to marry them, and we talked to many different people.

Then it was time for the descent.

They lined us up behind the Peruvian flag, told us to take hands, and we started booking it down the hill. We eventually dropped hands, but continued at a steady pace down the mountain. I was thinking from the start, “Oh my word, I am going to fall. I am totally going to fall.” On the way up, I actually joked about how it would be significantly easier to just roll down the mountain on the way back.

But I was JOKING.

The joke became reality when I slipped head-first, rolling/tumbling down the mountain.

Did you get that? I FELL DOWN A MOUNTAIN. This is what I meant about becoming a legend. Everyone was talking about the gringa who fell down the mountain. Years to come, they will still be talking and laughing about the year the gringa went up the mountain, and fell back down it.

I was rolling down the mountain, and knew I had to stop myself, so I tried to grab on to anything to decrease my velocity. Fortunately, there was a somewhat level place where I was able to stop myself, after falling about twenty feet. Almost immediately, one of the North American guys and a Peruvian man were at my side to help me. I was then accompanied for the rest of a descent by a man on each side, making sure I didn’t fall again (which was a real possibility).

At the bottom, everyone was waiting, continuing the party, and eating and dancing some more, and I might add that they were there for a while before I arrived. But when I did, there was applause. Everyone who joined the party at the bottom had heard about me, including one of my contacts who came to find me to make sure I was alright.

So now, I am a living legend when I go to the Sacred Valley. I have actually had people come up to me to tell me that they saw my fall. But the story actually serves as a great icebreaker when I am meeting new people in Coya. So God is using it for his glory.

And I can’t actually tell this story without giving all kinds of praise to God. Because it could have been SO MUCH WORSE.

If I had fallen anywhere else, there would not have been that level place for me to stop; I would have kept falling.

Everywhere else along the path, there were tons of rocks of various sizes that I could have hit my head on, but not where I fell.

I could have gotten a concussion, I could have broken bones, I could have been bleeding. I was up there with a paramedic, but we were still a long way from the bottom. If any of those injuries had occurred, how would they have gotten me the rest of the way down?

Do you want to know what injuries I did receive? (I mean besides the barely-able-to-move-because-muscles-I-didn’t-even-know-I-had-hurt-so-bad soreness that I had for two days.) When I got home, Emily had to help me pull thorns, which had been there all day, out of my legs. There were three of them, one of which was just over an inch long, and they left some pretty nasty bruises. But that’s it.

God protected me. I have no doubt about that. And I am so thankful.

And yeah, rolling down would have been SO MUCH faster.

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