“Petoy” friend

The hard path…
Thats where you meet the people you want to keep.
Mah-Too-Tay was his name….
A Pemon Indian porter from Caramata.
While climbing in the house of the devil in the place where an angel fell…
I discovered the richness of friendship among strangers once more.
Ayan Tepui in his language meant “the house of the devil”-
It was named that long before the American Jimmy Angel was plane wrecked on top in 1937 and hacked his way through the jungle in search of gold and a way out of his predicament. Ole Jimmy found a way- the only walkable path down the tepui’s 3,000 ft sheer cliff face. The mountains and waterfalls that covered the top of the tepui stretched on for 300 square miles. The tallest waterfall in the world is named after Jimmy. How he and his wife found their way down in 11 days is unexplainable.  The jungle heap has no obvious trails and the paralyzing fog camouflages the steep gorges making it dangerous to wander about. When the cloudy darkness sets in; which could be any time of day or night. It seems everything about the place is against you. When the sun shines there is no place more beautiful. The valley is covered with boulders and jungle thickery. Time seems to have forgotten this place, I’ve never felt so small or alone. 15 days fighting gravity with our fingertips as we cling to rocks. It made every feeling deeper- the hunger, despair, laughter and victory. Everything was so overstimulating. Bonds were forged among brothers and once strangers were like family. It took 5 days to get here, the isolation was key to the recipe. It was part of the devil you had to face inside yourself.I learned up there it is as Shakespeare said…”Nothing is good nor bad- but thinking makes it so.” The difference in heaven and hell was our attitude: the hunger for discovery of self. We developed more than a world class climbing area… there was a purification. The hearts of men were moved upon to care for each other. In this place.. the Galapagos of the jungle… no man lasted long as an island. With lungs on fire I pushed up the mountain for 3 days. The hands of brothers racking my back for breathing room as the sun collected in solar systems of the goal nada. The downhill should be easy right? My knees didn’t think so, neither did the crew. It was dangerous. A well placed stick in the path could skewer a man who placed a mis step. The Pemone’s were nimble on the hard path. I wandered what danger looked like to them. They were tiny and powerful… and thankfully kind. I was struggling to not fall, my body in rebellion wanted to quit. Then Mah-too-tay said to me in his Ewok language that he would carry my pack too. He said his bag was big but light, he was lying. He took my bag the last 4 miles as the steep turned to savannah. I was so grateful and thought the whole way that I should help someone on their hard path. My eyes are open now. When we returned I tried to lift his bag, it was 45KG… thats 90 pounds. He was not much bigger. The hard path.

1 thought on ““Petoy” friend

  1. Petoy boy knows the value of discomfort. When you embrace it it puts the extra in ordinary to give us extraordinary. Either we make the sacrifices needed in this life to embrace change and survival… or you don’t. If you don’t Mother Nature has a solution for you. You’ll be pushing up daisies. Mediocrity has a gravitational effect to all, but a few. Those few embrace hard because hard slows down the sands of time. Mediocrity advocates moderation. And in Nature’s laws moderation will kill you. Mother Nature isn’t kind and gentle. She’s cruel and ruthless. Eat or be eaten. Kill or be killed. Either way, she’s coming for you, the question is will you be prepared, when she knocks on your door?

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