Seeing the ski tracks left behind by Ulrich’s running gait made me laugh to myself and kept me amused for the start of the downhill. It was so slippery, but thanks to a finely straight piece of bamboo given to me earlier by Diego, I had 3 points to balance my shifting weight on. I was doing pretty good, actually. My knees were sore and I could feel the strain of 6 solid hours of trekking, but I was going to do this, and in great time no less! Halfway down I passed the small tienda with the military guards, still following Ulrich’s fresh slide tracks. Almost at the bottom, at another little finca, I was greeted by two indigenous men we had bumped into earlier in the day buying beer at camp 1. I also recognized their faces from other crossings throughout the trip. They stopped me to tell me that my husband had requested that when they see me, they put me on their mule and get me quickly to Machete in order to catch a ride down to the highway. What? Are you kidding me? I thought. I am faster than your mule, I replied smiling and tried to contiue on my way. No, no, no, they weren’t satisfied to let me go on alone. We continued to walk down to the river together, talking and laughing, at which point I was prepared to get on their wooden-saddled animal for the experience alone, if not to actually get me there faster. At that exact moment Diego came barreling down the path and assured me with a smile that yes, indeed, this mule could go faster than me. Huh! So on the mule I got, feet dangling from loops of rope and a wooden stub to hang onto for balance, and we were off in the river. The indigenous men spoke their own language to my delight and even taught me how to say dog/perro (sounds like Kelsey) and mule/donkey (sounds like chinichungana). On the river banks and in the mud, that mule could really go, with me bouncing away through my giggles and the men running alongside laughing, slapping and yelling at the mule to go faster. We arrived in Machete within 15 minutes, passing many military men who winked and smiled and must have thought I was quite the Queen of Sheba on my mule! The rain was really pouring now and when we arrived to the line of restaurants in Machete, my indigenous friend slipped right inside, under the thatch roof of one of them and his mule, with me still in-saddle, followed right behind him. I had to duck to not be smacked off by the roof beams and, to a crowd of laughing men, I attempted to dismount inside the restaurant. What a grande finale, I'd say!
We had missed the Jeeps. We hired a couple of moto-taxis to take us down and managed to cross paths with a Jeep which would carry us to the Sierra Tours office in Taganaga. We were so excited about the comforts of civilization and the extra day of holiday we’d just acquired, nothing much was on our radar for concern. By 6 pm we were checking into a hostel near the football field in Taganga, enjoying a cold shower, clean clothes and WiFi.
All day long I sang Latin Pop songs to myself, to keep my tempo up and my walking rhythm upbeat. One of my favorites is Mar Adentro by Donato & Estefano. They have other hits like Sin Ti, which are also fun to sing and dance to. My all-time favorite song in this category will always by Tu Amor Me Hace Bien by Marc Anthony (this is the one I love to dance around my living room to when I am in particularly great moods).