Early on Monday morning we got up (early as in 4:30am), ate breakfast and loaded up into a couple of vehicles to make our way out to the “Waiting Shed.” The Waiting Shed is a little shelter with a roof and three rough wood benches that makes the trailhead for the trail to our friends’ village. It took an hour to get up there. I would have really enjoyed it had it not been for the nervous twisting of my stomach as I anticipated the long, arduous hike ahead of us. The mist was lifting off the mountains as the sun rose. We were praying for an overcast, cloudy day rather than a sunny one… but it sure was beautiful.
When we arrived at the waiting shed a bunch of the guys from the village were there to meet us. They had brought their carabao (water buffaloes) out earlier that morning and the guys loaded them up with all the supplies to be taken into the village.
So, soon after loading the carabao we set off down the trail- double socks pulled high, rubber boots on and water bottles slung around our necks on straps. Squeaky was able to climb on a carabao right away. The other girls were a little scared at this point but soon warmed up to the idea after slogging through the mud. It only took them a few steps to be convinced but unfortunately it took a little longer to hail a carabao.
Button surprised me the most. As our most dramatic child I had anticipated a struggle with her on the trail. I thought that she wouldn’t handle the mud very well and would be terrified of the carabao. I failed to remember that her strong character could also serve her in a positive way. From the very beginning she was convinced that “It will be hard Mommy, but God will give us the strength to take each step.” She was my little motivational speaker and encouraged me by her good attitude and perseverance.
The first obstacle of the hike was the mud. After the typhoon and torrential rains of the proceeding weeks the hike was like trying to walk through a knee high chocolate cheesecake. Our boots kept slurping and slucking and getting stuck. Button and Winnie lost their boots many times. We were covered in mud after the first few minutes on the trail.
(An interesting sidenote: I was able to witness some of the locals walking this trail on our way out. They were not covered in mud and managed to emerge at the waiting shed looking nice and put together- ready for a day in town. I do not know how they do that.)
The second main event was the crossing of a river. It was about 15 minutes into the hike and the water was higher than usual. It actually felt good and refreshing as we waded across and carried our boots high above the water. The men from the village helped get the kids across so that none of the little ones had to wade. The water was up past our hips.