The Lost City Trek – Part 10

We are at the end of the adventure, a few more kilometres and some hidden gems before returning to Santa Marta

I am on my way back from the Lost City to El Mamey, going slowly and always on my own. I take a lot of photos for future reference and for the joy of family and friends back home. I wish they were here, although now I know that none of them would never make it there.

Today it is hot and sticky and most of the route is exposed to the hot embrace of the Colombian sun. This is the main challenge of the day, along with a couple of very steep hills to climb and descend. I found a walking stick that some other hiker was left behind and supporting myself with it things are going much better. I’m really enjoying being all alone, away from people who make noise and smoke all the time. Now it is easier to absorb the sights and sounds of the nature around me. At some point, I reunited with my fellow travellers for a dip in the river Buritaca, that I do all dressed and with my shoes on, tossing myself from a rock. I wash my clothes and me in one splashing go.

Soon we arrive to our beloved cabanas and hammocks. We treat ourselves with an impromptu soup out and an afternoon siesta, then following a tip from Castro, we follow a 20 minute path to get to some majestic falls. These must be reached by slipping down a steep slope, clinging to a rope not to fall against the rocks that populate the bottom.

The waterfall flies through the air by a jump of 20 feet with a loud bang and a splash fierce, ending finally at peace in a beautiful swimming pool of cold, deep water, all surrounded by rocks that were placed there for the enjoyment of divers. A Colombian boy dives off a cliff 15 meters high and then challenge the gringos to do the same. Nobody is crazy enough to take up the challenge, but we do favor a little grebe from one of the plates to 4 meters in height, an ideal springboard for our actions more bourgeois.

When we return to camp we run a half-holiday. Medellin Añejo rum bottles and cans of beer Aguila seem like a dream from the large stock of the owner of the cabanas, beautifully bathed in their box of ice. People are divided into groups. Some are beginning to engage in loud and boisterous games of cards, while others challenge each other in endless games of chess and cumbersome in view of romantic candles. Castro driving carries a lot of sweets to all his boys travelers, a well-deserved reward for completing the trek, passing narcos, snakes and wild American.

The next morning we make it to get to El Mamey, and after having eaten a hot meal and be drained a pair of Aguilas, just let us be done with a lot of semiubriaca tejo, the Colombian version of the game of bowls that looks like a race shot put with a side of explosions of gunpowder. My performance is among the most wretched of the century with a throw almost super wrong can kill a dog step, 5 meters away from the target explosives Tagus, between the laughs out loud so that the trekkers of the villagers.

Finally it’s time for the last part of our incredible journey. Like a demented film series B, our final challenge is to try to bring into a small Isuzu Jeep as follows: 9 trekkers, Castro, the driver, his wife and daughter, plus backpacks, boxes of supplies and two chickens ! After several failed attempts at comedy, we begin our 12-mile ordeal to the main asphalt road to Santa Marta with the following line: driver / owner, wife and daughter safely accommodated in the front, 7 hikers perfectly adapted to the mosaic rear of the vehicle in the company of chickens and some ‘supplies, Castro out, hanging on the big spare tire on the tailgate of the Isuzu, two courageous British carrier on the roof of the jeep, sitting amid a sea of bags and boxes.

In this training pyramid-shaped face the treacherous dirt road down from the mountains to the sea, enjoying a box-like comfort and safety levels of sardine style Paris-Dakar rally, while the driver goes to zig-zag between holes as deep canyons, protruding rocks in the middle of the trail dirt roads end and tight spaces on the roadside. The valley and its jungle below now no longer seem so inviting and picturesque, and the engine struggles to keep up and the bottom dell’Isuzu rasp out repeatedly against the rocks.

Finally the jeep gives up and refuses to go further. The transmission is gone. We retreat in the shadow of a house nearby, some asleep, others play soccer with a ball of rags, I look at Castro and the driver all blacks become fat and sweat in an attempt to repair the damage. Another Colombian arrives with his bike and joins the team of mechanics after he ran home to get the toolbox. The jeep is gutted, repaired and turned over, then we are ready to resume the journey back to civilization and return to our separate paths, but not before there drained a freshly squeezed fruit juice, a generous tribute to the sweaty trekkers from Ms who lives on the road to the Lost City.

Simone Chierchini Copyright ©2010-2011

__________________________________________________________________________

The Lost City Trek 1

The Lost City Trek 2

The Lost City Trek 3

The Lost City Trek 4

The Lost City Trek 5

The Lost City Trek 6

The Lost City Trek 7

The Lost City Trek 8

The Lost City Trek 9

The Lost City Trek 10

“HEART’S PLACES” ARTICLES FOLDER

“BUDO GURU” ARTICLES FOLDER

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This article is property of Simone Chierchini. Anyone may reproduce it provided that:
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Annunci

The Lost City Trek – Part 8

Colombian SoldiersSnakes, Colombian soldiers and half miracle close the third day of the Lost City Trek

More retracking and more slow pacing on my own, taking lots of photos for future memory and for the enjoyment of family and friends back home. I wish they were here, even though now I know that none of them would have made it so far.

Today it’s hot and sticky and most of the path is exposed to the roasting embrace of the Colombian sun. This is the main challenge of the day, together with a couple of very steep hills to climb and go back down from. I have found a walking stick that some other hiker has left behind and things go much better with it. I am really enjoying being all on my own, away from people that smoke and make noise all the time. Now it is easier to absorb the sights and sounds of the nature around me. At one stage I rejoin my fellow travellers for a splash in the Buritaca River, that I take diving from a rock all dressed and with my shoes on, washing myself and my clothes in one go.

Soon enough we make it to the cabanas and our hammocks. We splash out with an afternoon soup and siesta, then we take a 20 minutes walk to some waterfalls. These have to be reached sliding down a sharp incline, while clinging to a rope not to precipitate against the rocks that populate the bottom.

The waterfall crashes down from a 20 metres jump with a loud bang and a wild splash, finally ending up pacified in a lovely deep pool of cold water, all surrounded by rocks that the gods put there for the divers’ pleasure.

A Colombian boy dives from a rock stand 15 metres high and then challenges the gringos to do the same. Nobody is insane enough to take it up, instead we favour a 4 metres high slabs that is a perfect trampoline for our more bourgeois gestures.

When we go back to the camp we get a party going. Bottles of Medellin Añejo rum and Aguila beer cans appear like in a dream from the cabanas’ owner ample supply, nestled in their proper ice box. People split in groups. Some start to play noisy and rowdy card games, while others challenge each other in brainy chess games light by romantic candles. Castro the guide brings a bunch of sweets for all his travelling kids, a well deserved reward for completing the Trek, overcoming narcos, snakes and wild Americans.

The next morning we make it to El Mamey and after devouring a spicy meal and downing a couple of Aguilas, we get busy right away with a drunken game of tejo, the weight throwing, gun powder exploding version of bowls conjured up by the Colombians. My performance is among the most disgraced of the century: with a super crooked launch I almost manage to kill a dog passing by, 5 metres away from the exploding targets, amid the raucous laughter of villagers and trekkers alike.

Then it is time for the last incredible part of our trip to start. Like in a demented B movie, our final challenge is going to be to fit the following in a small Isuzu jeep: 9 trekkers, Castro, the driver, his wife and daughter, plus backpacks, boxes of provisions and two chickens! After various comical failed attempts, we manage to begin our 12 mile drive towards the main paved road to Santa Marta with the following line up: driver/owner, wife and daughter safely tucked up in the front, 7 trekkers snugly fit into the back of the vehicle in the company of the chickens and some of the provisions, Castro outside, hanging from the big spare wheel on the back door of the Isuzu, 2 brave British chaps on the roof rack of the jeep, sitting among an ocean of bags and boxes.

In this pyramidal shaped formation we face the treacherous unpaved downward track, enjoying canned sardine-like comfort and Paris-Dakar rally levels of safety, while the driver zigzags between canyon deep potholes, rocks that stick out from the beaten track and narrow drivable spaces at the edge of the road. The valley and its jungle down below doesn’t seem inviting or picturesque at all now, as the engine struggles to keep up and the bottom of the Isuzu scratches the rocks several times.

Finally the jeep gives up and refuse to go any further. The transmission is gone. We retire under the shade of a nearby dwelling, some fall asleep, others play football with a ball of rags, I watch Castro and the driver get black all over with grease and sweat as they try to fix the damage. Another Colombian arrives in his motorbike and joins the mechanics team after running back home to fetch his tool box. The broken down jeep is quickly opened, turned around and fixed, so we are ready to resume the drive back to civilisation, not before having enjoyed a freshly squeezed fruit juice, however, generous homage to the sweaty trekkers from the lady who lives up the road.

Simone Chierchini Copyright ©2010-2011

__________________________________________________________________________

The Lost City Trek 1

The Lost City Trek 2

The Lost City Trek 3

The Lost City Trek 4

The Lost City Trek 5

The Lost City Trek 6

The Lost City Trek 7

The Lost City Trek 8

The Lost City Trek 9

The Lost City Trek 10

“HEART’S PLACES” ARTICLES FOLDER

“BUDO GURU” ARTICLES FOLDER

__________________________________________________________________________

This article is property of Simone Chierchini. Anyone may reproduce it provided that:
1. The article is reproduced in its entirety.
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The Lost City Trek – Part 7

Snake incidentA poisonous snake bites one of the trekkers and suddenly the approach to the Lost City in the Colombian jungle is turned into a deadly race against time

We walk further, deeper in the mountains, every moment more removed from the world as we are used to consider it in our thinking, every moment more conscious of how it actually is. Two hour at a good pace bring us again to the Rio Buritaca, that has accompanied us for most of the hiking with its happy flowing noise several hundred metres below, invisible to the eyes among the thick mass of trees.

The porters readily set a picnic on the shores of Rio Buritaca and the smell of food attract some wild jungle pigs to the banquet. Most travellers opt for a swim in the crystal clear cold water beforehand, to wash away sweat, dust and DEET. There is great diving from the big rocks that line the rio, so I can indulge in one of my oldest passions, down head first in a deep pool of shining liquid glass.

I am just out when I hear someone shouting and suddenly the temperature in my body drops: “Snake!! Snake!! I got bitten by a snake!!” A burst of shivers runs down along my spine as I ran towards Jin, the Chinese girl, who is sitting on a rock by the river, holding her foot up, crying and screaming. Joe is the fastest to reach her, while the snake quickly hides away in the vegetation. I arrive next and I see the damage right away, two red bite marks. It’s done, the worst has happened, abruptly, one second we were laughing out loud and having a whale of a time, the second after desperation spreads out like a virus, a venom. Nobody knows what to do. Castro the guide comes to me asking for medication, but I have none, poison antidote cannot be carried, as it needs to be kept refrigerated, so now we start to feel hopeless.

Jin cries her eyes out. She is both in shock and in pain, she cries “It hurts! It hurts!!” and everyone’s blood freezes in the veins. Castro manages to find himself again and ties a bit of stick to her calf, very tightly, to stop the poison going upward towards the heart. For the same reason her leg is now placed in a position that is lower than the rest of the body. Everyone is trying to understand what kind of reptile has bitten Jin. This is an important piece of information, in order to evaluate the gravity of her poisoning. She says it was half a metre long, two centimetres thick, brown, with orange spots. It was not a coral, at least this.

Time goes by. Jin shakes and sweats. She cries “I don’t want to die!! I want to see Ciudad Perdida!“, but we have nothing that can help her right away, no antidote, cell phones don’t work, the only thing to do is to carry her to the Lost City where the Colombian army has a small post. They will radio for help and a helicopter to carry urgently poison antidote to the ruins in the jungle.

In the meantime another small group of trekkers arrives to the Buritaca and their porters are turned into runners to make it back to the main road in the fastest possible time, as to alert the authorities of the events. The porters offer to try and get the antidote brought to the start of the path in El Mamey from Santa Marta’s Hospital and walk all the way back to Ciudad Perdida overnight. It took us two day to do it, this is an almost super human feat.

One thing is for sure: now, for all, it starts a deadly race against time. From this crossing of the Rio Buritaca to the Lost City there is two hours of really tough hike left. On the spur of the moment the Colombian porters become 100 metres sprinters, running through bushes, trees, uphill, downward, jumping thoughtlessly from stone to rock, crossing the Buritaca several more times. Castro and two other porters have the toughest task of all, as they must carry the girl on their back, swapping every 10-15 minutes, and carry her while running like hell. Jin is a medium size girl, she is by no means petite or light. The porters manage to achieve something that seems almost impossible, that is to carry someone of the same weight, on rough ground, racing faster than Olympic competitors.

The rest of us, poor normal human beings, feeling like Avatars on their first Pandora day, tries to do what we can, which turns out to be unbelievable. We cover what in the original schedule was meant to be a 2-hour hike in less than half the time. An adrenaline rush pervades everyone’s limbs, we are all possessed by fear, shock, even excitement and extreme adventure lust. We are about half way when new characters appear in this unfolding drama. It’s the Colombian Army soldiers with their shining Kalashnikov in one hand and a stretcher in the other. The first runner has already made it to Ciudad Perdida and the soldiers reached us back while we barely covered half of the remaining hike.

Jin is laid down, stretched, tied and raised by the soldiers above their head, so that the rush upward can now resume at a faster pace. All the previous running though is nothing in comparison to the climbing of the 1300 derelict stone steps that finally lead to the Los City. We take them three at the time, risking to lose our footing and precipitate 100 metres downward, but bad luck has already stroke once today, so we continue uphill towards the top safely. Yes, safely, but almost in inhuman state: someone carries two rucksacks, others carry boxes of provisions bigger than them, I run as close as possible to Castro and the others who carry Jin, as I want to record all of it with my camera.

Those 1300 steps bring us 500 metres upward in altitude, the porters with Jin on their back, and I keep wondering how they can do that, when I can barely manage to carry up myself, almost stepping on my own tongue. I scratch my shin badly twice, scraping it against the sharp rocks that line the path, while I risk what one should not to keep up with the pace of the porters. My bad knee and its bran new cruciate ligament hold, and I send a silent thank you to my surgeon back in Rome. Several times I think that I am going to die, not Jin, since my heart is threatening me to explode at any moment. I wish the Tayrona had built their capital at the bottom of this hill, beside the river but I know I have to keep up, as the soldiers do not speak a word of English and they keep asking me to communicate with the Chinese chica. They want to know how she feels, they want her awake, aware that she is being taken care of, that all is going to be right.

We finally make it to the top, a plateau covered in jungle with cleared terraces paved in stone. In these clearings once stood the wooden dwellings of the Tayrona; the wider one used to house the hut of the Chief. This is where the helicopter will land, but will it, really?

Luck has definitely abandoned us for the day, as you will learn soon.

Simone Chierchini Copyright ©2010-2011

__________________________________________________________________________

The Lost City Trek 1

The Lost City Trek 2

The Lost City Trek 3

The Lost City Trek 4

The Lost City Trek 5

The Lost City Trek 6

The Lost City Trek 7

The Lost City Trek 8

The Lost City Trek 9

The Lost City Trek 10

“HEART’S PLACES” ARTICLES FOLDER

“BUDO GURU” ARTICLES FOLDER

__________________________________________________________________________

This article is property of Simone Chierchini. Anyone may reproduce it provided that:
1. The article is reproduced in its entirety.
2. A link to the original article
https://simonechierchini.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/the-lost-city-trek-%E2%80%93-part-7/ is included at the bottom of the reproduced post.
3. The following credit is included with the reprinted/reproduced article: “This article was written by and it is property of Simone Chierchini. Copyright by Simone Chierchini’s Network© email: schierchini@gmail.com”

The Lost City Trek – Part 6

Village KogiIt’s the third day of our trek to the Lost City and we meet a Kogi settlement, where I play convincingly the role of  jungle doctor

Seven o’ clock and it’s up and go. Today we are going to make our final approach to Ciudad Perdida. We start our hike through the jungle in a fresh, pleasant temperature. One more time the absence of mosquitoes is a perfect gift for the traveller, and so are the wonderful views of the forested mountains. Everywhere one can turn his head there is total solitude and birds singing, while the colours and shapes of the jungle, ever changing, are deeply moving and tell many stories to the ones who know how to listen.

The track is initially gently rolling up and down, but after the first hour things suddenly change: for forty minutes we climb again and it is a steep ascent, like the first day, but our legs answer more willingly, either because the tough ascent of the first day took the rust off them or because it is earlier today and the path we walk under tree shelter. We sweat, silently swear and grind our teeth as we go up, but we get it done. When we stop, out of the huge backpack of one of the porters appear pineapples and bananas to reward us after the struggle. He is the youngest of the porters that accompany us, merely a boy, a tough heroic 12 years old who never stops, smiles, complains. I think of my own son of 12 and I realize how our civilization is totally gone soft.

 

We resume our hiking and soon enough we reach a small Kogi settlement. Castro says he will ask the Chief to show us how the Kogi brew a liquor from fermented sugar cane and then maybe we can taste this rare speciality. He goes to confer with the Chief but soon he is back, all apologetic: it is a no go, there is nothing he can do. The wife of the boss is sick with a strong fever, so no outsiders are to be allowed in the circular thatched hut where the couple resides with a considerable amount of children.

Then Castro asks: “Would anyone have medication for the Chief’s wife?”, so here I go, suddenly turned into a jungle doctor. I enter the Chief’s hut with my pack of meds, trying to look the part while a dozen Kogi stare at me wordless. I finally manage to fish out my Tachipirina drops, originally from mamma’s closet in Rome, and I put 20 drops in water for the sick woman to drink. She swallows, everybody stares, nobody says anything and I start to feel like those western missionaries in the wild men village of Hollywood memory. Then the Chief gets up, leaves and quickly re-enters the hut with a small plastic bag in his hands. He gives it to me, then, while everyone is still speechless, I am asked to leave.

When Castro sees the goods he says it is coca leaves; the gift, apparently, is a big one. I share the leaves with my fellow travellers while Castro explains how to chew them, as to release the alkaloid contained in them, and then to spit them out without swallowing as they could make you sick. So we resume our pace, at a faster pace now, like the native Americans of old, supported by the wave of adrenaline created by the alkaloid as it enters our system. Sure thing it’s a lot easier to overcome the steeper hills and bear the heat now fallen on the wonderful Colombian mountains all around.

When the conquistadores discovered the particular effect of coca leaves on people, they used them to work the local indigenous population to death. The best part of the 10000 Tayrona people that originally populated the area where exterminated through inhuman work conditions, starvation, diseases, war.

I remember this information from my pre-trek reading as I walk through an open patch where the forest has been cleared. Here the Kogi practice their sustenance farming. A small boy in his typical white Kogi dress, with the inevitable white brown-striped Kogi sack hanging from his side, approaches me. He signals towards my baseball cap, an orange NYPD hat made in Nicaragua that I bought on a previous trip. He then gives me a big inviting smile that says it all: leave me your hat gringo! I obviously fall for it and my head is now unprotected from the sun, while the little Kogi runs like hell to show the amazing gift he got from a white man passing by with his rucksack on.

Simone Chierchini Copyright ©2010-2011

__________________________________________________________________________

The Lost City Trek 1

The Lost City Trek 2

The Lost City Trek 3

The Lost City Trek 4

The Lost City Trek 5

The Lost City Trek 6

The Lost City Trek 7

The Lost City Trek 8

The Lost City Trek 9

The Lost City Trek 10

“HEART’S PLACES” ARTICLES FOLDER

“BUDO GURU” ARTICLES FOLDER

__________________________________________________________________________

This article is property of Simone Chierchini. Anyone may reproduce it provided that:
1. The article is reproduced in its entirety.
2. A link to the original article
https://simonechierchini.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/the-lost-city-trek-%E2%80%93-part-6/ is included at the bottom of the reproduced post.
3. The following credit is included with the reprinted/reproduced article: “This article was written by and it is property of Simone Chierchini. Copyright by Simone Chierchini’s Network© email: schierchini@gmail.com”

The Lost City Trek – Part 5

Rio Buritaca's crystal waters

After an impromptu visit to a cocaine plant production, the trek towards the city lost in the jungle resumes and the Buritaca River is reached

Castro comes back from wherever he was hiding and the Ciudad Perdida expedition resumes. It is going to be an easy day, with less walking, some inclines, but never as tough as the ones of the day before, and a lot of descents. The second day of the Lost City Trek is spent for the most time walking in a jungle where the hands of men have been not as devastating as the previous day: forest covers the mountains, forest covers the valleys, forest fights forest everywhere in a deadly embrace, direction light, skywards.

It is hot, but breezy and fresh fruit is always at hand to replenish the litres of liquid spent in sweating. A film of dust and sweat covers anything that moves, like during the first day, the difference being that today my muscles answer the challenge, my lungs seem to have expanded, my left knee regenerated by the many lovingly attentions received during rest time.

It feels alive, it feels happy, it feels free to be walking among these wild but compassionate mountains and their trees. It feels like being at home. Four hours vanish in a sweaty wonderful flash and at the end of a steep descent we hit water: we have reached the Rio Buritaca. My clothes end up in a tangled bunch before any word is said and my sweat washes away in the cold crystal flow of the river.

The river Buritaca snakes through the forest, calm in appearance, but possessed an inner power that surprises the swimmer with a drag that is almost invincible. We try body rafting and someone manages to test the rocks for resistance using their head. The day is too beautiful, however, to allow anything bad to spoil it. I dive into the river from rocks high on the water, letting then the water flow make a leaf of me. The current carries me downward for a while, until my body is brought to rest, kissed by avid sunrays, upon an almost supernatural pebble beach.

Again I surprise myself feeling like at home, thoughtless and in harmony with nature, which is loving me back, motherly, warm, protective. I start to believe that nature is a woman, the warmest one can ever find, and I guess I have always been in love with her, sometimes scared by her energy and unable to understand her secrets, still ready to give her my soul, my enthusiasm, my miseries, my life. Nature will never betray me, abandon me or punish me for my mistakes. She is an experienced partner that all sees, understands, comprehends.

I want to get lost in her.

End of Part 5

(To be continued)

The Lost City Trek 1
The Lost City Trek 2
The Lost City Trek 3
The Lost City Trek 4
The Lost City Trek 6
The Lost City Trek 7
The Lost City Trek 8
The Lost City Trek 9
The Lost City Trek 10

Copyright Simone Chierchini ©2011Simone Chierchini
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Il Cammino della Città Perduta – Parte 5

“Un serpente! Un serpente! Mi ha morso un serpente!”

Un serpente velenoso morde uno dei trekkers e improvvisamente l’approccio alla Città Perduta nella giungla colombiana si trasforma in una gara mortale contro il tempo

di SIMONE CHIERCHINI

Camminiamo più in profondità in mezzo alle montagne, ogni momento più lontani dal mondo come siamo abituati a considerarlo nel nostro pensiero, ogni momento più coscienti di come realmente esso sia. Due ore di buon passo ci portano di nuovo al Rio Buritaca, che ci ha accompagnato per la maggior parte della nostra escursione con il suo felice fluire diverse centinaia di metri più in basso, invisibile agli occhi tra la fitta massa di alberi.
I portatori rapidamente preparano un picnic sulle rive del fiume e l’odore del cibo attrarre al banchetto alcuni maiali selvatici dalla giungla. La maggior parte dei viaggiatori opta per un bagno nelle fredde acque cristalline prima di mangiare, per lavare via sudore, polvere e DEET. Ci si può tuffare con gran gusto dalle grandi rocce in mezzo al rio, così posso indulgere in una delle mie più vecchi passioni, giù testa in avanti in una profonda pozza di lucido vetro liquido.
Sono appena uscito dall’acqua quando sento qualcuno gridare e improvvisamente la mia temperatura corporea si abbassa di dieci gradi: “Un serpente! Un serpente! Mi ha morso un serpente!”
Una catena di brividi scende lungo la mia schiena mentre corro verso Jin, la ragazza cinese, che è seduta su una roccia sulla riva del fiume e tiene il proprio piede sollevato, mentre piange e urla. Joe è il più veloce a raggiungerla, mentre il serpente rapidamente si nasconde nella vegetazione. Arrivo subito dopo e vedo il danno subito, due fori rossi, dove il serpente ha morso.
E’ fatto, il peggio è successo, di colpo, un secondo stiamo ridendo a squarciagola e divertendoci come non mai, un secondo dopo la disperazione si diffonde come un virus, un veleno. Nessuno sa cosa fare. Castro la guida viene da me per chiedere medicine, ma io non ne ho, l’antidoto contro il veleno non può essere trasportato in zaino, dato che va conservato a bassa temperatura in frigorifero, così ora cominciamo a sentirci senza speranza.
Jin piange e si lamenta. La ragazza è in stato di shock e prova dolore, strilla “Fa male! Mi fa male!” e a tutti si gela il sangue nelle vene. Castro riesce a ritrovare se stesso e lega un ramoscello al polpaccio di Jin, il più stretto possibile, per fermare il veleno che ha già iniziato a fluire verso il cuore. Per lo stesso motivo la sua gamba viene ora spostata in una posizione più bassa rispetto al resto del corpo.

Il piede e il morso del serpente

Tutti cercano di capire che tipo di rettile ha morso Jin. Questo è un importante elemento, un’informazione essenziale al fine di valutare la gravità del suo avvelenamento. Lei dice che il serpente era lungo mezzo metro, un paio di centimetri di spessore, e che era di colore marrone, con macchie arancioni. Non era un serpente corallo, almeno questo.
Il tempo passa. Jin trema e suda. Urla “Io non voglio morire! Voglio vedere Ciudad Perdida!”, ma non abbiamo nulla che possa aiutarla qui sul posto, subito, nessun antidoto, i cellulari non funzionano… l’unica cosa da fare è di portarla alla Città Perduta, dove l’esercito colombiano ha un piccolo stazionamento. Loro potranno chiedere aiuto via radio, far venire un elicottero per trasportare urgentemente l‘antidoto al veleno fino alle rovine nella giungla.
Nel frattempo un altro piccolo gruppo di trekkers arriva al Buritaca e le loro guide vengono immediatamente reclutate come corridori; il loro compito sarà quello di raggiungere la strada principale nel più breve tempo possibile, di avvertire le autorità degli eventi. I portatori si offrono di correre fino a El Mamey, all’inizio del sentiero, percorso che noi abbiamo fatto in due giorni, aspettare l’antidoto portato in tutta fretta dall’ospedale di Santa Marta, e rifare la strada già percorsa in direzione di  Ciudad Perdida. Il tutto in meno di una giornata, una prodezza quasi sovrumana.
Una cosa è certa: ora, per tutti, inizia una corsa mortale contro il tempo. Da questo punto sul Rio Buritaca alla Città Perduta ci sono normalmente due ore di percorso davvero duro. Sull’onda del momento i portatori colombiani diventano sprinters dei 100 metri, e corrono incessantemente attraverso cespugli e alberi, in salita, in discesa, saltando di pietra in roccia senza pensarci due volte, guadando in un baleno il Buritaca altre 5 volte. Castro e gli altri due portatori hanno il compito più difficile di tutti, in quanto devono portare la ragazza sulla loro schiena, dandosi il cambio ogni 10-15 minuti, e devono farlo andando veloci come se avessero il diavolo alle calcagna. Jin è una ragazza di medie dimensioni, non è affatto petite o leggera. I portatori riescono a realizzare qualcosa che sembra quasi impossibile, ossia il trasportare una persona del loro stesso peso, su terreni accidentati, correndo più veloci di concorrenti olimpici.
Il resto di noi, poveri esseri umani normali, sentendoci come degli Avatar durante il loro primo giorno a Pandora, cerca di fare quello che può, che risulta essere incredibile. Copriamo quello che nel programma originale avrebbe dovuto essere un percorso di 2 ore in meno della metà del tempo. Un continua scarica di adrenalina pervade le membra di tutti, ognuno e’ posseduto da paura, shock, anche da eccitazione e desiderio di avventura estrema. Siamo a circa metà strada, quando in questo dramma appaiono nuovi personaggi. Sono i soldati dell’esercito colombiano, con il loro lucido Kalashnikov in una mano e una barella nell’altra. Il primo portatore e’ già arrivato a Ciudad Perdida, poi i soldati ci hanno raggiunto, mentre noi a mala pena abbiamo coperto metà del cammino rimanente.

Una massacrante odissea in salita

Jin viene messa giù, allungata, legata e sollevata dai soldati sopra alla loro testa, e in questo modo la corsa verso l’alto può riprendere a un ritmo ancora più veloce. Il bestiale sforzo compiuto fino a questo punto però non è nulla in confronto alla salita dei 1300 sgangherati gradini di pietra che portano alla Città Perduta. Li facciamo tre alla volta, rischiando di perdere l’equilibrio e precipitare 100 metri verso il basso, ma la sfortuna si e’ già data da fare una volta oggi, quindi si prosegue in salita verso la cima senza incidenti seri. Senza incidenti seri, si, ma in uno stato quasi disumano: qualcuno si e’ dovuto caricare due zaini, altri portano scatole di provviste più grandi di loro, io seguo il più vicino possibile  Castro e gli altri che portano Jin, dato che voglio documentare tutto con la mia macchina fotografica.
Con questi 1300 scalini di pietra grezza copriamo un dislivello di 500 metri di altitudine verso la sommità del colle, i portatori con Jin sulla barella, e io continuo a chiedermi come possano farlo, quando io a malapena riesco a portare su me stesso, quasi calpestando la mia lingua. Mi ferisco entrambi gli stinchi, raschiando contro le rocce taglienti di cui e’ pieno il percorso, mentre rischio ciò che non si dovrebbe rischiare per stare al passo con il ritmo dei colombiani. Il mio ginocchietto scassato e il suo nuovo legamento crociato reggono, e io invio un silenzioso ringraziamento al mio chirurgo a Roma. Diverse volte penso che sarò io a morire, non Jin, dato che il cuore sta minacciando di esplodere in qualsiasi momento. Desidero che i Tayrona avessero costruito la loro capitale ai piedi di questa collina, accanto al fiume, ma tanto so che devo comunque tenere il passo, perché  i soldati non parlano una parola d’inglese e mi chiedono di comunicare con la chica cinese. Vogliono sapere come si sente, vogliono che la tenga sveglia, che sia consapevole che c’e’ gente che si sta occupando di lei, che tutto andrà per il meglio.
Finalmente arriviamo in cima, un altopiano coperto di giungla ma con terrazze ripulite dalla vegetazione e lastricate in pietra. In queste radure un tempo sorgevano le abitazioni in legno dei Tayrona, quella più ampia destinata ad ospitare l’alloggio del capo. Qui è dove l’elicottero atterrerà, ma atterrerà veramente?
Purtroppo oggi la fortuna ci ha definitivamente abbandonato, come si scoprirà in seguito.

Fine della Quinta Parte

(Continua)

PARTE 1
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PARTE 8

 

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