Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

August 9, 2012

Perspiration, Perseverance and Panorama in Puerto Rico

Filed under: Tools for Life Posts — by Life's Toolbox @ 10:14 pm
Tags: , , ,

   I am getting better at sitting still on vacation.  Perhaps from years of entertaining active boys on family trips, or more likely as a result of my own “I don’t want to miss a thing” temperament, vacation outings almost always include taking in the sights of a new and foreign place.  In Puerto Rico for 5 days of much needed R and R, I was beckoned by El Junque, the tropical rain forest on the mountains we could see each morning.

A stop at the ranger station armed us with information on waterfalls, guided walks and hikes long and short.  We heard explanation of the 3 hour trail that ascends to the highest peak, with elevations over 3,400 feet.  In the humid 90+ degree heat, I waited for the young, knapsacked hikers to finish their questions, sheepishly pointed to myself and asked the ranger, realistically, what could I do?  A 1 ½ hour loop trail to Mt. Britton Tower was totally do-able – paved paths, shaded for most of the way . . . only the altitude, he thought, might be an issue.  Off we went.

We parked at the trail head and entered another world –  coqui frogs chattering as we walked, birds overhead, and plants and trees that one just doesn’t see in New York.  The only drawback . . . it was ALL uphill.  With the trail’s switchbacks, you could often see or hear hikers that seemed to be directly above you, only to realize that you would have to make a steep and steady climb to get there.

About ¾ of the way up, the trail opened onto a wide expanse, blazing in the sun.  We lost count of how many water bottles we had consumed, and exhausted I told my husband that was it.  No more.  I can’t go further.  Ever the cheerleader, he reasoned we had come so far, and urged we go just a bit more.

As we were debating whether to go up or down, a silver haired Brit with a walking stick and full hiking regalia approached.  A professional guide, he shared his life story, travels and adventures he amassed once he realized life is too short to sit behind a desk.  Here he is, guiding others who eke out a few days out of their cubicles.   When he saw we were considering a retreat down the mountain, he was upbeat and encouraging . . . you’re mostly there – 2 more minutes to the next trail, then 8 minutes to the summit.  His endearing smile and genuine recommendation to experience all of life’s offerings, magnified by my husband’s patience and good cheer kept me going.

We reached the top, panting, drenched and pretty spent.  The thought of climbing 2 flights of stairs was not on my list, until others descended from the tower raving.   Even before stepping out from the circular stairs, the cool air hit us.  But what took our breath away was the 360 degree view above the cloud and tree line of a lush tropical paradise.  Clouds kissed the neighboring peaks, in the distance, the Atlantic waved, and at our fingertips sierra palms swayed all to the song of the tiny coqui frog.  And all because we didn’t turn around, we just kept going.

Back in our hotel room, with all the creature comforts and lots of sore muscles, the Olympics played on the tv.  I am and never will be an Olympic athlete.  But the perspiration and perseverance it takes to just keep going is something I really appreciate.   I do not, for a moment, take it for granted and hope I am blessed with more climbs and vistas in the years to come.

I am getting better at sitting still on vacation.  Perhaps from years of entertaining active boys on family trips, or more likely as a result of my own “I don’t want to miss a thing” temperament, vacation outings almost always include taking in the sights of a new and foreign place.  In Puerto Rico for 5 days of much needed R and R, I was beckoned by El Junque, the tropical rain forest on the mountains we could see each morning.

A stop at the ranger station armed us with information on waterfalls, guided walks and hikes long and short.  We heard explanation of the 3 hour trail that ascends to the highest peak, with elevations over 3,400 feet.  In the humid 90+ degree heat, I waited for the young, knapsacked hikers to finish their questions, sheepishly pointed to myself and asked the ranger, realistically, what could I do?  A 1 ½ hour loop trail to Mt. Britton Tower was totally do-able – paved paths, shaded for most of the way . . . only the altitude, he thought, might be an issue.  Off we went.

We parked at the trail head and entered another world –  coqui frogs chattering as we walked, birds overhead, and plants and trees that one just doesn’t see in New York.  The only drawback . . . it was ALL uphill.  With the trail’s switchbacks, you could often see or hear hikers that seemed to be directly above you, only to realize that you would have to make a steep and steady climb to get there.

About ¾ of the way up, the trail opened onto a wide expanse, blazing in the sun.  We lost count of how many water bottles we had consumed, and exhausted I told my husband that was it.  No more.  I can’t go further.  Ever the cheerleader, he reasoned we had come so far, and urged we go just a bit more.

As we were debating whether to go up or down, a silver haired Brit with a walking stick and full hiking regalia approached.  A professional guide, he shared his life story, travels and adventures he amassed once he realized life is too short to sit behind a desk.  Here he is, guiding others who eke out a few days out of their cubicles.   When he saw we were considering a retreat down the mountain, he was upbeat and encouraging . . . you’re mostly there – 2 more minutes to the next trail, then 8 minutes to the summit.  His endearing smile and genuine recommendation to experience all of life’s offerings, magnified by my husband’s patience and good cheer kept me going.

We reached the top, panting, drenched and pretty spent.  The thought of climbing 2 flights of stairs was not on my list, until others descended from the tower raving.   Even before stepping out from the circular stairs, the cool air hit us.  But what took our breath away was the 360 degree view above the cloud and tree line of a lush tropical paradise.  Clouds kissed the neighboring peaks, in the distance, the Atlantic waved, and at our fingertips sierra palms swayed all to the song of the tiny coqui frog.  And all because we didn’t turn around, we just kept going.

Back in our hotel room, with all the creature comforts and lots of sore muscles, the Olympics played on the tv.  I am and never will be an Olympic athlete.  But the perspiration and perseverance it takes to just keep going is something I really appreciate.   I do not, for a moment, take it for granted and hope I am blessed with more climbs and vistas in the years to come.  

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: