Tuesday, August 17, 2010

He's Back.

Yep. That would be Russell the adventurer! He's back out of the darkness and into the light.

I've been pent up too long, working too hard, giving only my mind the fun. But what about my body? Ah yes! The past two days were not only all about physical exertion, but letting loose my soul! After an epic two day hike, I write from Mainit, a remote village nestled in the green mountains.

Oh my goodness! What a full blown adventure that was.

Like any good adventure it began in a smoky dimly lit bar. 'The Bamboo Grill' in Sagada is the one place in town that defies the curfew and stays open past 9. The bartender, Vince, and I were talking. I explained how I wanted to walk from Sagada to Mainit and avoid the road. Vince, took a drag from his cigarette, and smiled. "There's a trail that only the locals know, my friend. Over the mountain. Through the valley. You can't go wrong.". He took another swig of gin.

I got excited. Just what I was looking for! The way Vince described it seemed simple enough. In fact he seemed to indicate it would only take 3-4hrs and that it would be no problem at all. I imagined one direct trail, easy to follow.

And thus, I set off without a map, without even bothering to download any satellite images to my iPhone. I didn't even give the general direction a little research. I just set off with my destination and my smile.

In the midst of the journey it struck me that my trip was rather symbolic of how I undertake everything in life. Screw money, maps and plans-- if my heart is calling me in a direction, I just set off! All those little other details seem to just manifest themselves on the way.

And so it was! On the first day of the hike, after setting out a little too late, I met a kind woman at a roadside shop. She invited me to follow to her village, which was on my way. It was a winding trail down into Fedelisan, a village perched on the misty green mountainside.

Alas, dusk began to fall. At the foot of a majestic falls, as the grey an rainy fog descended around us, she offered a place at her home for the night. Ignorant of what was ahead of me I almost turned her down to press on! But, it was a generous and warm offer, and my intuition urged me to go with the local advice and the kindness. And boy, was that a good decision.

And so I spent the night in Fedelisan, this little town nestled in this incredible verdant valley. I met her husband and her and her three sons. We gathered around the fire for local rice and beans on the wooden floor. Their sons were learning some English at school so we did some language trading. We played a little game, pointing to the various objects throughout the simple kitchen/main room. Everyone joined in and all our linguistic horizons were expanded.

Then, I let the kids drive for the first time in their life-- Krash Bandicot, a video game on my iPhone. They loved that! That kept them busy while we talked about Canada and the Philipines. They were very eager to learn about my distant place.

I slept on the floor, and rose at dawn. Adomai's husband was heading into the mountains also, so after a hearty breakfast, and fond farewell, we headed out.

He led me down the valley and to the foot of the mountain. And then we headed up. It was to be just one of many insanely precariously mountainside climbs that day. After an hour of pulling myself up on rocks and avoiding slippery mud spots, we made it to a ledge where he and his companions were set to work for the day on the water pipe to the village.

From there, the workers pointed me in the direction to go. I waved goodbye and set out with a smile into the jungle underbrush and earthen trail. It wasn't quite as clearcut as Vince had seemed to indicate in between the swigs of gin. The sun glisten gold through the green canopy. Orange and black butterflies fluttered around me. The air was misty and fresh. What a glorious morning!

And in half and hour I was hopelessly lost!

To be continued...

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