Well stint number dos began with the sun shining in the valley. I immediately got to work on my outdoor rec project of trail maintenance and building. First I marked the trails with bright orange rope every so often to more easily distinguish exactly where I wanted it to lead. During this process I managed to perturb an entire nest of wasps that began to dive bomb. I felt a sting in my right hand and the next morning it had swollen to about a third its normal size, but the fun didn’t stop there! The local campesino, Ramon took us on a beautiful hike through the jungle to a nearby waterfall. Everyone jumped off rocks into the cold water to wash the sweat off their skin. Before I knew it I was back on trail work, now mostly digging drainages for water runoff to help manage the amount of mud on the flatter parts of the paths that tended to pool. I then learned, with the help of Brigitte, how to build stairs of wood and rebar to help make the steeper parts of the path more manageable and safer to trek down.
During one of the days I was on the trail by myself, trying to dig a trench, two wandering horses walked down the narrow path right in front of me. I stopped working and stared intently at them and they did the same to me. I stepped off to the high side of the trail and spoke gently to let them know I wasn’t going to harm them and they could pass without any interference from me. Slowly but surely they passed me with cautious glances and I thought to myself that this was an amazing moment. Before the second horse passed me by it pulled up its tail and let out one of the most terrific farts I have ever heard. It was as if someone gathered all the chubby toads in the forest and stomped on them like it was a game of Dance Dance Revolution. I chuckled so hard I dropped my pickaxe.
But the jungle always has the final laugh. On the last day, right before our hour-long hike back to San Miguel, a scorpion stung me while I attempted to take down my tent. The little bastard got me right on the index finger. The venom shot up my arm making it feel as if someone lit a half a dozen little fires in my forearm only to put them out a moment later and then light them up again. Luckily Brigitte had some peppermint oil which soothed the sting significantly. I was driven out of the valley and taken to the local clinic in San Miguel where I got a one shot for both butt cheeks and some mystery pills. Before I knew it I was feeling drowsy from the meds and spent half the day asleep, then my muscles began to tense and I couldn’t stop shaking. I had a long night, but at the house I had some movies to keep me entertained while my body worked through it. Now, writing this blog I feel so much better and actually ready to get back out to the valley. While I don’t believe the old saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” I do believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you a little more fearless. Perhaps the experience has made me appreciate the parts of the jungle that don’t sting a little bit more.