Rainy Forests

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

A nice hike through a tropical rain forest, full of orchids, beautiful flowers (and the only thing that counted to me… beautiful you), small fauna, and towering mountains off to our right was the right idea at the right time this morning. This was the dry season and therefore there was no problem or danger, and we could see the capital city from any rise in the forest floor. Unfortunately, no one had told the rain gods that it was the dry season, and, at 1PM, like a church bell, the thunder started and from a clear blue sky it was raining buckets within one minute.

I had seen this type of rain in Saint Lucia, and know better than to be in a low spot at the base of mountains in rains like this. The water was so thick that I even has trouble seeing you, and you were holding my hand. The guide rushed by, chasing an elderly lady who had headed downhill. I pulled on your hand and headed up the side towards a high spot that we had left just 10 minutes ago… You pointed in the guide’s direction, but I could not hear a word you were saying between the noise of the thunder and the steady rush of the wind and rain… I just gathered you up along with one or two others in our group and headed back for the shelter and height above.

I noticed an animal running as fast as he could uphill and felt a bit comforted with my decision..

The ground was becoming slippery now, and one of the small girls in our group was having trouble gaining traction. The mother had two others to contend with. I popped the girl on my shoulders and kept on moving. I could see streams to our left and right where there had not been streams before, and the rain was getting stronger if anything. I moved every over to the mound of stones that bordered the path. When we had been coming down a few minutes ago, we had all asked why they were there, as they were not in keeping with the tropical beauty around us. The guide had shrugged and said nothing, but it was becoming clear to me that they were meant for the rainy season when the paths and fields would become treacherous. I had seen the same type of thing in other parts of the world, and wondered, just for a second, why I had not recognized it on the way down, thinking it was just there as part of a civil works project. It was not as comfortable to walk on as the smooth path, and one or two complained (although I could not hear the words, the pointing and faces communicated the meaning well). I stopped and told them to really look at the path. The water had soaked in so far already that tiny chunks of mud were starting to stream downhill. And the path was turning into its’ own little stream. I went to the mother and offered to take a second of the children, but you acted directly taking the youngest out of her arms and pointing at her to take care of the middle one… I was very proud of you at that moment (as I always am, really) for you showed no concern, just determination, no worry, just confidence and, even in this situation, I smiled… I knew why I had fallen for you, and this was just another reminder.

We trudged up the rocky road, and twice I pointed out to those with anger on their face a tree sliding upright and gracefully down the hill. Mudslides were the worst here, and I gave a thought to the guide who had gone off after the lady. I admired his bravery and dedication for he knew what was about to come.

The top of the hill appeared before us like a magic trick and we all ran under the small roofs that had just sheltered us from the sun a while ago. They offered little protection from the rain, but they did spell some sort of security… I finally had time to look at you closely… You were returning children to the mother, consoling one person here, another there… in other words, being perfect. You looked like you had just entered a wet t-shirt contest, and without the bra the effect was there. I went over and peeled the shirt from your skin just to put a bit of air in, but the smile on my face, and the laugh inside just would not go away, no matter how gentlemanly or serious I tried to be. Just then I saw the guide come out of the forest on the other side of the clearing with 9 or 10 people glued to him, including the original downhill lady, and figured he must have known another path up… His face was a picture of relief at seeing all of us there, and he ran around counting noses.

The look on his face at the end of his count was enough to tell me that we were all there, and that there would be no tragedy tonight…

The rain stopped…. Just like that…. One second it was a roaring waterfall, the next… nothing. The silence shut everybody up. Not a bird was calling, not a sound was being made. No wind… nothing. And then came the sun, full and unashamed, as if nothing had happened. I reached over for your hand, and found that you were already two hands on my arm. I am not sure if that was because you were cold, or hiding your spectacular wet t-shirt contest entries, or maybe you just liked me…. I put my other hand on one of yours, and led you out into the sun. The heat of the day would dry your clothes in minutes, and almost as soon as we stepped into the sun steam started to rise from your clothes. “Not the way I was hoping to warm you up”, I said, “but it will do for now.”

The guide herded us all together and took us back to the rock mound road and back the way we had come in the morning. Tomorrow, or the day after, this would be a wonderful memory, today it was just a walk in the woods…

It HAD seemed like a good idea this morning.

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