What goes down must come up, right? It’s all fun and games until you’re, yet again, facing that same path from days prior – this time, from the bottom up. Up being the direction of travel via weakened knees and tired legs. But alas, up will eventually get you over and down into libertad, better known as the town of El Mamey.
DAY FOUR. 12.7 km/7.9 mi. A day of finals, but not the kind we dread at school. At the first stop, the camp from day one, we say goodbye to Margarita, sister-in-law of Bernando and our beloved cook. Bernando’s wife and kids are there as well, and we (the visitors) take a photo with Bernando and his family. A guy with no relation to any of us except that he, too, is on this trek, although belonging to another tour group, decides that he’d also like to capture this moment of us together.
We pass a group of young military men who unabashedly throw at us the few English words they know. Something, something, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” It’s March, but that’s alright. A and I fall behind the others in our walk, but we don’t mind as we sing to the Sierra Nevada our favorite Camila songs and Disney classics.
BÉSAAAMEEEEE. Como si el mundo se acabará dessssspuésssss.
The familiar landscapes remind us that the end is near, and when we finally see that large map signaling the beginning (or end!) of the hike, we rejoice. The short walk from the map to the lunch and resting place is longer than I remember, but goodness! we did it. Sometime around noon, we complete the Lost City trek, and this time, we’re the dirtied, resting returnees who look on as the van drops off a fresh batch of travelers. They seem low on energy, and a few carry bags much too big for this hike, but in my head, I wish them well. Bernando rides with us until the rugged road meets the highway, and it’s a bittersweet goodbye. He hitches a motorcycle ride back up the mountain to El Mamey. Nayuga, Bernando.