Finding calm in the chaos

Finding calm in the chaos

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

BELIZE: A hike in the jungle

We drove by a banana farm and snapped a picture for our banana-eating girl, Natalie
We spent one day hiking at the Jaguar Reserve. While I love hiking and backpacking, I was quickly reminded that I hate bugs. Hate them. In fact, I would taking hiking in the freezing cold over hiking in nice weather and being eaten alive by bugs any day. The day started with a stop at the Mayan Women's Center, where we picked up a few local crafts, paid our park admission and used the restroom. As one would expect, the restroom in a third world country is always a bit rustic. There was a polite sign asking us to flip over the mirror when we were done using it to prevent birds from flying into it.
After Deanna finished, I took a turn and when I reached for the roll of toilet paper sitting on the back of the toilet, I was horrified to find a large, hairy brown spider living inside the tube. I flung that toilet paper across the small bathroom, where the spider landed with an audible thud. (Yes, it was that big). Like any arachnophobe would do, I stood up with my pants around my ankles and screamed a blood-curdling scream.
Joe, sure someone was carrying me off to my doom, came running and Deanna, who was still standing outside the door, kept asking, "Are you okay? Are you okay?"
Still speechless from horror, staring across the room into the eyes of the hairy brown spider, I couldn't answer. I could only keep screaming. Eventually, I got it together, literally pulled up my big girl panties and unlocked the bathroom door. Both Deanna and Joe were relieved to see I was still alive. The Mayan women at the Center were unperturbed. I went to point out the stupid spider and it, of course, had vanished, making my loyal friends and husband skeptical about my claims.

We loaded up into the Jeep and drove up the muddy road to the trailhead. We'd planned to flat the river down and then hike up a trail that ended in a waterfall with a pool. When we went to sign in at the ranger's station, though, I quickly nixed that plan. Sitting on the desk was a jar, which contained a large dead snake called a jumping viper. The jar was plastered with a warning about the jungle's venomous snakes. I honed in on the line about this snake being "aggressive" which I interpreted as "will hunt you down in your sleep".

Deanna and Darin persisted in their plan to float down their river to their doom while Joe and I planned to hike the river trail and meet them at the exit point. We had a short, easy hike, stopping frequently to take pictures. We saw soldier ants industriously carrying leaves along paths and tried to follow a small deer we'd spotted.

Eventually, we met up with the Gemmers, who were quickly taking off their lifejackets and spraying themselves vigorously with insect repellant. We headed away from the river and its angry army of mosquitos, hking up the mountain to the waterfall. The ranger had talked about water snakes, reassuring me they were not venomous, but I did not want to get in the water at all. However, it was so stinkin' hot and I'd just climbed up a small mountain, so it only took a little bit of cajoling from my friends and husband for me to strip down to my swimsuit and jump into the water.
Then they all had to step it up a notch and swim under the waterfall to the cave behind it. Oh, my. That just seemed like a bad idea. There was no way I was going to do that.

If all my friends jumped off a bridge, would I jump, too?

The answer is apparently, yes, because after all three of them swam under and a) told me how amazing it was, b) mocked my reluctance and c) warned me I would regret missing out THE REST OF MY LIFE, I took a breath and swam over.

It was pretty incredible and I was glad I did it...until a small fish bit Deanna's leg and then I hightailed it out of there.
We drove home, hungry and scratching our bug bites. Everyone was happy with our hike. Me, I was happy with the experience...and was relieved to have survived the day.

Deanna's Facebook post summarized our day: "Floated down a river in the middle of the jungle in the Jaguar Reserve today then swam under a waterfall in a beautiful natural pool. Magical and unforgettable."

Mine? "I saw a huge spider today, hiked in the jungle and swam under a waterfall. My fear of creepy-crawlies has been stretched today."

1 comment:

Deanna said...

Great recap! Except you forgot the part about being so hungry on the drive home you were ready to sell your firstborn (or maybe your middle child) for a cheeseburger.