My dad and my sister, both military reserve types, like to say that pain is weakness leaving the body. I say that pain is an excuse to sit down and drink beer which is exactly what we did at the end of day five after the epic walk down the tepui. Fuck me backwards it hurt and we did two days in one, stopping for lunch at Base Camp where we stayed the second night before heading through to Camp Tök, our first night’s camp. It was horrible. Downhill can be so much worse than uphill.
At one point my left leg decided it was no longer going to bear my full weight which resulted in a limp which slowed me down even further, but Rafael stayed with me the whole time for the first half. He was the absolute picture of patience as I hobbled down the mountain, arriving half an hour later than everyone else but amazingly still on schedule. I was ready to give up ay, I would have given anything to be back in Auckland, curled up somewhere warm with the mrs, surrounded by my friends who I could completely be myself with. But that wasn’t going to happen and sitting down and sulking wasn’t viable, I had no option but to harden the fuck up and carry on.
Marco stayed with me for the second half of the walk until we got to the river next to the camp where he carried on ahead and I washed off in the river then sat by it for a while, half to gather my thoughts and compose myself before I actually cried (yep, I really can be that pathetic) and half because I couldn’t actually get up. I was broken. Even the simple act of walking downhill had to be slowly forced from my torn muscles. Eventually I eased myself up and hobbled to camp where one of the girls saw me coming and walked over to give me a beer. Bless her, that cheered me right up.
Amir had been hanging for a BBQ the whole way and by the time I got there he’d built a little fire and was carving sticks into sharp points. He’d scavved a tin of Spam from Marco and we ended up sticking chunks of it to the sticks and toasting them over the fire. It was fabulous. Beer, Spam on a stick, one man’s dream of a BBQ realised and several bottles of wine that Marco produced. The porters and Marco gave speeches, sang songs and handed out t-shirts proclaiming “I didit” (with the gap between “did” and “it” missing. Loveit) until we attracted the attention of another group who came over to see what all the noise was about.
Tell you what though, the other group had a much better poo tent than us. They had hanging devices containing toilet roll to the right and blue bags to the left, a scoop for the white powder, thick, rubber gloves for christ only knows what, the full bags were hung outside well away from your face and the door zip worked. As I emerged I looked around for the butler to wash my hands with soap made from the fat of an endangered whale and pat them dry with the pelt of a baby seal.
Day six was just painful but mercifully flatter. I hobbled back to Pataitupüy, Marco took my pack for the last hour and a half and a 4WD was even sent to pick me up for the last bit of the walk which, at the speed I was going, would probably have taken another half an hour. Now that’s service. And while we were having our last lunch together, Rafael gave me a little tortoise made from straw. Ha. Get it? It’ll take pride of place somewhere next time I have a room to strew my stuff around.
So anyway. Was it worth it? Right now I’m not really sure. I’m walking like an old lady and my feet feel like they’re rotting after being permanently wet for six days. Thank god for Gran’s Remedy foot odour eliminator, that stuff is magic although it’s more than a little bit nerve wracking transporting white powder over South American borders. Not only that I didn’t really get on that well with my trek-mates. I had nothing in common with them, I’ve no idea how to discuss economics, plus I was at a much lower fitness level than all of them. I can’t say that enjoyed every minute and I’m confused as to why I parted with money for this level of discomfort, there are certainly cheaper ways to cause yourself pain. Right now I’m not sure if it’s really worth it. Ask me in a few days time when I’m warm and dry and walking resembles real walking again and not the pained movements of a crippled penguin.
Santa Elena de Uairén, Bolívar, Venezuela
Stayed at: Posada Michelle
Activity: Roraima trek with Backpacker Tours