Wednesday, October 12, 2005

How Can I Tell You How Sucky That Climb Was?

Boy am I sore, Brother/Sister. And tired, too — I can barely lift my arms over the keyboard keys today. The Master Trainer really had a hair up his ass today. Dropped a paperweight on his foot this morning — the clogs he wears are open-toed — and he spent the rest of the day taking it out on us in merengue drills.

Still, I owe you some catch-up work today, so I'll fight through it. Where did I last leave off?

Respectfully, Phutatorius, I believe you were in the rental car without the tape-deck, traversing the foothills of the Andes.

Ah, yes. What a harrowing drive that was. Mud-slick roads, hairpin switchbacks on loose gravel, sheer hundred-foot drops. No guardrails. I did about fourteen hours straight — half of them in the pitch-black, with the dome light on while I tried to follow the circuitous route my Sponsor had drawn for me in the road atlas. Sometime after sunrise I came to an unpassable stretch, the road clogged in rubble from what figured to have been a recent avalanche (I don't need to remind you, Brother/Sister, that winter just ended down here in the Southern Hemisphere).

I ditched the car at that point, thanked it kindly for its yeoman work, did the last forty miles on foot, following the map past the end of the road, and from there along winding trails — not all of them terribly well-marked — to where X marked the spot. This was not easily accomplished in the thin air, with my wheelie-bag not particularly suited to the mud and muck in these mountains. In retrospect, I think it might have been wise for me to trade it in for a backpack, but after what I had gone through to retrieve it from the airport authorities, I had grown rather attached to that clumsy little black box, with its misaligned wheels.

I worry that unless I describe this journey in a long and drawn-out fashion, then you won't come away from this read with a true and accurate understanding of the hardship I suffered climbing those mountains. On the flipside, if I did recount every uphill stumble, every misread of the map, every muttered expletive and shouted prayer — well, I worry that you'd soon weary of me, Brother/Sister, and leave off reading here in favor of some other weblog that offers its content in more manageable, bite-sized blurbs.

In fact, I'm put in mind of Tolkien, and how miserable a slog some of those Lord of the Rings passages are, when his point was to show the reader just how miserable a slog it was for those poor Hobbits traversing Middle Earth. All this because Tolkien did not have the much-maligned — but oh! so useful! — montage technique in his arsenal. The film adaptations could, you see, convey a sense of distance, endurance, and achievement by showing Frodo first in a desert, then in grasslands, then in mountains. All in a matter of seconds. Likewise, we could get a sense of Rocky Balboa's training regimen in but a few turns of the film reel — without suffering through long afternoons watching him jump rope.

Hm. A montage would certainly be useful right now. I wonder if I might be able to swing it in the narrative prose format. Worth a try, I suppose. All right, then, Brother/Sister — here goes:

lactic acid — sharp gravel — steep grades — battery dies on iPod — steeper grades — asthma attack — that whirlwind I was talking about — bobcats — diarrhea — chafing — hallucinations involving giant throbbing purple skulls chanting KILL! KILL! KILL! —

You're thinking what I'm thinking, B/S. Montage doesn't work so well in written text (and don't think for one minute that this fact didn't cost Tolkien the worldwide readership he might have had otherwise). So lacking any reliable narrative cheat for impressing upon the reader a true understanding of what I went through on Thursday and Friday — but also recognizing that it would be cruel and unusual punishment to subject my reader through the whole experience, step by excruciating step — I'll say only this:

That climb really fucking sucked. And until I get back to the States and get that attestation sworn before a certified Notary Public, you'll just have to take my word on that.

But what next, Phutatorius? What did you find at the end of the climb, where X marked the spot?

The Secret Mountain Redoubt, of course. But I'll get to that in tomorrow's post. I have another seven hundred penalty push-ups to do tonight before lights-out. At Sunday dinner I made the mistake of asking the Master Trainer if we'd be taking Columbus Day off. These Quechuan Indians are really sensitive about that Colonial stuff. Who knew?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...