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The first full day at the farm we were sooooo excited to begin our hike in the jungle. The night before we had gone into town and bought boots. Special boots. Boot specifically for walking in mud! Now you know there is going to be a great story behind this. We woke up at 6 am – to beat the heat, our hike would start at 6:30 am. Peruvian time. Which meant we started at 8:30 am!

With boots securely on our feet we tromped through the swampy area before entering the jungle. It was so much fun. We stomped and kicked and played around in the mud. It was going to be a fabulous adventure. Our guide, Fidel, the first person in this picture is a pastor at Luz Divina church and was our “God send” as he hacked our way through the unmarked trails. Without him we would still be fighting our way out. Well, not so much. We would have been eaten alive by mosquitoes.

100_1303 Yes, the following picture is of Cindy and I, although we look a bit worse after about 3 hours into the hike. Fidel climbed a huge cocoa tree and chopped down the fruit for us. It was the size of a large coconut. They split it open and inside are the seeds that they make chocolate from. You can see the seeds in our mouths! The texture – much like slime. Watery, warm and the feel on your tongue – disgusting. So we took a picture and then spit out the seeds. Okay – give us credit – at least we tried it!

100_1347 No…I am not hiking in shorts. The dark part of my pants is from the water and mud that we crossed through and walked in during the hike. I think this is about hour 4-1/2 of 5-1/2 hours in the mud! What started out to be extremely fun and exciting – still was adventurous – but some of the glamour had worn off by this point. The mud is thick and sucks the bottoms of your boots as you try to maneuver your way through, at minimum, ankle deep mud. Sometimes it gets up to knee length and then you are stuck. Heaven help you as you try and pull your foot up with all your leg strength. The muscles scream for air and rest. From that point on, every step was a beating…….. 

Finally, I have cleared the hip high lagoon we walked through from the pasture back into the jungle. The rains during the past week made the trails almost impassable. But no – we had to try it!!! What is wrong with us????? You can see our boots in this picture. This was the way to empty out excess water and mud. No place to sit down – that is all mud and mosquito infested so you don’t want to stop anywhere along the way. You  just kick up your heels (if your leg muscles allow and can support you) and let the water and mud drain. 100_1349 I cannot write this part of the story and look at this picture without remembering exactly our thoughts as we cleared the last stretch and ended up at the house. On the verge of tears, exhausted, and about to pass out, the last hour was grueling!!!! No I cannot repeat the thoughts we expressed to one another. Remember – we are “trying” to bring light and hope to people!!! Well maybe not this particular day….

We cleared a pasture and could see the house in the near distance. Home at last – Home free. Not quite!!! As we almost raced to the house we would get stuck yet again – time after time – step after step. The pasture – the last leg of the hike – was suppose to be a walk in the park. Yeah not so much. As I watched Cindy ahead of me continuously stuck in calf high mud, I thought I was going to cry. “Really???? You have got to be kidding me”, I thought to myself. Or maybe I said it out loud. By that point I am not sure I even had a filter on my words! All I wanted to do was sit down in the mud. I couldn’t move one step further. As I saw Cindy moving her way slowly toward the house I noticed she had her boots in her hand. What?  It was easier she said, to walk in bare feet. So why fight ’em? Just join in. And I took my boots off and let the thick, slimy, warm mud cover my feet as I trudged along.

For the final few steps to the house I tried to put my boots back on on but could not balance or lift my leg at that point. Then a young woman from the church came alongside me as said she was there to help me. Those were the sweetest words I had ever heard! I was trying to get my boots on for the final few steps to the house but could not manage at all. Every part of my body at that point was shaking. So, I leaned on her and she put them on for me and a short while later we had arrived at home base.100_1328 After all of this – we wouldn’t have traded the adventure, memories and the laughter. It was an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G hike. We have already booked ourselves on the summer jungle hike!

In His Grip in the Jungle and even the mud…

Stephanie and Cindy