Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The players

I suppose I'll jump right into the hike portion of my trip (as opposed to my favorite part-- the motherfucking delicious food).
I'm still amazed over how a situation like HIKING for five days can make a disparate group of 13 foreigners bond stronger than 13 years of grade school.
There were laughs, tears, plenty of vomit, falls, foreign language lessons, dance lessons, bruises, political debates, slips, broken nails, toilet paper drama... all sorts of shit.

Let's start this series of posts with an introduction of the newly formed family.

First, we had the father-daughter duo, ze Germans: Daddy Post and Jo.
This group was precious, and was where we acquired our adoptive father. They were from Hamburg, with the daughter residing in Dresden before she left for Lima on some study-abroad program. Living in Latin America made Jo realize she loves the family life and the tightness displayed by the culture. She now has plans to return with her folks and siblings to Hamburg, and be more open with her feelings. This of course, has made Daddy Post incredibly happy. They took this trip as a way to tighten up their bond before the big changes occur in the Fall.
From them, we learned our team mascot of sorts: the morgenmuffel. We were ALL morgenmuffels.
Just... angry, irritable, non-morning people.
"WHY ARE YOU TALKING?! We were all woken up at 3:30AM!"
Best. Word. Ever.

Second, we had the Dutch-Australian couple: Dave and T.
This couple had been traveling around the world for a year. Dave is a biology teacher, a year older than I, and the girl is a tiny pistol of a woman who... I'm not sure what her job was, but I do believe she has a kid or two? Anyway, they are a very well-traveled couple, super adventurous, and curious about the world. Dave was very friendly from the get-go, very quick witted, and T was a go-getter, brave woman. This couple had our adrenaline pumping within an hour of our hike when T FELL OFF THE MOTHERFUCKING SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN. YES. From the angle I saw her drop (completely different form everyone else, because I was a good chunk behind them. She fell at a bend of the road, while surrounded by 10 of the members. I had yet to reach the bend), I thought I had seen someone plunge to their death like a sack of potatoes. I literally started to cry, tears uncontrollably rolling down my face... the thought of reaching the horrific scene overwhelmed me. However, resilient little T made it with only a scratch on her left thumb. Had I taken the fall down the cliff, I certainly would have broken my neck with my bulky-ass-self, but she rolled like a pro and managed to climb back out of the ditch.
From this couple, we learned our motto: watch your fucking step.

3. The Iraqi siblings: Sam and Lita.
This brother-sister due was adorable. Sam, the young brother, is a recent college grad. Lita, his older sister, was joining her sibling on HIS grad trip around South America. I was surprised to learn she's only five years younger than I, her baby face made me think she was a recent high school graduate.
These two were always at the head of the pack, taking a wrong turn on the first day of the trek, needing to be rescued by our tour guide before they burned too much time (they burned about an hour and a half with their detour).
From this duo, we learned our second important lesson: ALWAYS listen to your guide's directions on where to stop.

4. The college grads: Casey and J.
These two boys were... boys. They were part of Sam's frat family... and it showed. Warming up to them was difficult, because they were stereotypical American youngsters. They always pulled too far ahead of the group, and hardly gave a shit to converse with the rest of the crew. It wasn't until the third day where J's love of rap music and basketball (the basketball was obvious, since he is well over 6'2"... but the rap thing was totally out of the blue, since he is as geeky, lanky white boy as you could ever imagine) came up in conversation when I mentioned NAS that he suddenly perked into life. J and I became pretty tight after that conversation, often catching him smiling sheepishly when I'd call out to him by his name... that was cute. Casey... that guy... he was the cold one. We had moments of warmth with him, but he'd suddenly revert to being that rebellious, somewhat unlikable American frat boy.
From this duo we learned: not all is what it seems.

5. The scientist couple: Cat and Alvin.
I fucking LOVED this couple! They were the most endearing Filipino-American couple who were initially hard to crack. Cat would speak up during lunch/dinner time, but in the shiest manner... we could hardly hear her. I would watch her gather courage to speak... and it would warm my heart. She always had awesome contributions to conversations, but she had to wind herself up in order to spit it out... or would have her boyfriend interject "Oh! Cat has something really cool to say about this subject. Go ahead Cat, tell them." Alvin was very stoic at first... finally cracking when he realized we had much more in common than we imagined-- he grew up in the same California town as where my uncle, we were both med school drop outs, we both liked Atmosphere, sports-team loyalties... and same level of sarcasm. After day three, we were like siblings.
From this duo we learned: quiet people are usually worth the patience (well, everyone else learned that... I've always known this, considering I'm part of that tribe).

6. My two friends: The Muppets.
These two ladies have known each other for a while. One of the girls... let's call her Bone, has been my friend since high school, and the other I met on this trip. Bone and... Spence have been friends for something like ten years or less. Anyway, they definitely have more in common with one another, since their friendship is fresh, and they live in the same city. They had many inside jokes, and a very similar sense of humor... really loud laughs. People in the group would often... sort of exclude them, because these two girls would be in a world of their own... not to mention, always the last two on the trail... by at least half an hour. The nickname was given to them by our hilarious German dad of the trip, and he meant it as a compliment.
From this duo we learned: quick wit can make tense situations into laugh-fests.

7. Me: The narrator.
I was given the title by the dad, since he said I was more of the calm portion of the trio, responsible for translating the humor of The Muppets to the rest of the group.
I was the tallest female... as well as the meaty-est (the "chubbiest" was Spence, but she is about 5'5" so it wasn't as... intimidating as my corpulence). Trust me, this will play a mean role later on.
From me they learned: having someone capable of translating from Spanish to English and English to Spanish is goddamn priceless in Latin America.

And so, add our magnificent five-foot-tall trek guide to the mix, and you get a group of 14 folks who endure all sorts of shit and form a peculiar bond.