14 May 2010

Peculiar Moments...

Two stories for you, both from Monte Blanco.

On our second day there, our host, David Salazar explained a tradition of the camp. Whenever there was new staff, the "old" staff would pull a prank on the newbie. I caught the tail end of that conversation and didn't think anything of it other than that I hate pranks, so I was glad it wasn't me. Half an hour later, I heard a scream of surprise coming from the kitchen. David said, "Grab your camera, you'll want a picture of this".

I didn't. Big mistake.

I ran into the kitchen, following my friend who had her camera with her, to see a girl my age...a newbie... with a face full of black paint. Everyone was laughing. I started to laugh too.

Until a woman ran by me and slapped her hand on my face. I yelled in surprise, and reached up automatically... only to pull away paint-covered fingers. Knowing my friend had a camera, I bolted to the nearest restroom. But I couldn't get it off.

So I gave it as good as I had. I chased Maxima, the culprit, who incidentally had "locked" me in the "cooler" (a room that is chilled and acts as a refridgerator) earlier that morning. There was no handle on the other side, and the light went out. At the time I thought about yelling, then remembered I knew where the Coca-Cola was. Still everyone got a scolding when they finally let me out. :0) I think I started calling them "bad" in Hindi because it was the first language to come to me. Anywho, back to the war paint...

Maxima ran outside and in circles. I chased her, not really sure what I would do if I caught her. But chasing her seemed like a good idea.

Ten minutes into the chase, she ran back into the kitchen. I was feeling good, despite the black paint on my face and the altitude that took my breath away. She ran to a giant bin and turned back to me in a flash.

She dumped flour on my head.

And then for good measure, she dumped flour on my friend, who was chasing both of us with her camera, trying to get pictures.

So maybe it was a good thing I didn't have my camera. Anywho, here's a pic of me with the "war paint". Photo by Connie Rock.

A few hours later, we went on a tour of the center. There was a lot of ground to cover! It's such an amazing ministry... there's even a farm and an airstrip (runway) up on the mountain. After our walking tour, we rode around in the back of a truck to the destinations a bit farther away.

At one point, we had the opportunity to visit a cemetery for missionaries who served in and passed away in Bolivia. Standing there in front of the graves marking those who gave their lives for Christ, it was a humbling, life altering moment. Walking back, a thorn (about 2 inches long) pierced my flip-flop and went straight into my foot.

That's what I get for not wearing my Chacos! The things you see on the flip flop are sharp too!

Anywho... I didn't think that much of it. Until the next day when I woke up and felt the irritation in my foot. Then I climbed a mountain. :0) Afterwards, the site was really raw and I began to limp. The Monte Blanco staff noticed and pointed me towards the clinic, which the First Aid Guy had to put down his suitcase (he was leaving with the campers on a bus) and re-open the clinc. Another guy on the staff, David (not our host), came with him. But they weren't alone. This little guy came too...

(Photo by Kristen Torres-Toro)

The next thing I knew, I was sitting on that little bed with the First Aid Guy cleaning my foot and a hairy tarantula in a glass box 2 feet away. First Aid Guy was instructing David on what to do... both of them were speaking Spanish. Suddenly David turned to me... as the other guy was cleaning my foot... and held a syringe in his hands. He made a pumping motion with it and started talking seriously. My foot stung, the tarantula moved a hairy leg... and I started shaking my head. "No," I say firmly, looking to my friend for help. She was kind enough to document it for posterity.

(Photo by Connie Rock)

He kept insisting... making motions...and I knew exactly where that syringe would go. "No." At that point I didn't care if my foot fell off.

I found out a few moments later that David used to work in the circus. :0) I wasn't surprised.

(Btw--after that, my foot felt fine. It's healed, although I'm kind of rooting for a scar. Those are always fun).

While hiking on the mountain, a tree coated with the same thorns scraped my scalp and almost drew blood. Then a few hours later at the river, I watched this truck drive down the river. Yes, you read that right. It was parked in the river and they were loading rocks on it. When they were ready to leave, it had sunk too deep in the mud to get out at one crossing. So they drove down the river to get out at a different spot.

(Photo by Kristen Torres-Toro)

In 24 hours' time, I was locked in a freezer/cooler, coated in Bolivian "war paint", almost scalped by a mountain, treated medically next to a tarantula, and watched a truck drive down a fast-flowing river.

I love it when life gives me good stories!

Have a great weekend!


  1. Yikes, what a day! I'm glad your foot is okay. :-)

  2. Wow! That is quite an adventurous 24 hours, Kristen! The photo of the tarantula is a little freaky! :-)

  3. Sounds like quite a trip! Practical jokes like that live on for the rest of forever. You'll be laughing about that for years!

  4. That was quite the adventure!! I would not have handled the tarantula with your grace.

  5. Oh, my gosh! Now those are some stories!!!

    Fun and scariness! I literally flinched when I saw that tarantula. I would NOT have been able to handle that little companion. :)

  6. I'm green with envy! What amazing adventures you had. So glad your foot is okay. What a beautiful tarantula - cool that you got to hold her. I'm loving these stories. You look really happy, by the way - glowing - black makeup and all.

  7. Yikes!!!! you are totally brave...and a good sport....Stay safe ok???

  8. Well, you could never be accused of living a boring life!

  9. Thanks, Friends! Ha! Oh, I didn't touch it... I was the photographer for that picture! NO WAY! :0)

  10. That is a BIG spider! We saw some like that in Thailand, and I actually had perched on my foot once. Umm...worst moment of my life. lol

    Love your stories from the field!!! :)

  11. Oooohhh. No tarantulas for me. Not close. Not far. Not ever.

    Glad you're a tough cookie, K.

  12. I am speechless and just a tad jealous! What amazing memories you are making!!!