Tulum, Mexico, Day 1
My story begins with a sanity check: less than 72 hours ago I was bouldering on a beach south of Cancun, just outside of Tulum, Mexico. While the temperature was in the mid-eighties, the tropical sun was intense. White sand as fine as I have ever felt beneath my feet and between my toes. The waves broke just meters from the base of the sharp limestone wall. It was impossible to look in any direction without taking in the beauty of the blue-green water, surf kites (I don’t know the formal name), and sparsely dressed (“topless”) sun bathers (actually, a few men seem to have forgotten the location of their shorts; and for the relative size of the bathing suits, the women might as well have too).
One couple made love on the beach in plain view of all who chose to watch (which seemed to require as much, perhaps more courage than making love in public itself). I realized again how conservative we are in the States. We may have freedom to purchase more than we need, freedom to travel where we desire, freedom to voice our opinions in the papers but we have in many respects locked ourselves into a relatively small frame of mind, of what is right and wrong, sinful and blessed. Hollywood produces the most violent films on the planet, viewed without second thought by kids, teenagers, young adults, and parents who bring their toddlers for lack of a sitter. “It’s just a movie. I know it’s not real. It doesn’t affect me.” But an exposed breast or love scene and everyone cries ‘foul’. We leave the theater having watched a comedy feeling happy, an adventure film, adventurous; a sci-fi with our minds racing to the distant stars in search of something more, and a romance feeling romantic. It may be “just a movie” but if it did not affect us in some fashion, we would not pay to view it.
Personally, I’d rather leave a theater with the warm desire to make love than the muscle tension, anxiety, and residual adrenaline that may lead to my driving recklessly, a snap argument, or uncomfortable sleep.
Hueco, Day 2
But now (and I seriously question why) I am at Hueco Tanks, Texas, where the hi for today was 34F. With the wind gusting at well over 30 miles per hour, the low is likely to be below zero. I am without thermals, a cook stove, or flashlight. I have a single pair of pants which sport a ripped knee, running shoes and thin cotton socks; a sweatshirt and polar fleece jacket (thank goodness), and a cap and gloves which I keep stowed in my auto-repair kit. Without the gloves, setting up the tent would have proved beyond even my tolerance for the cold; resorting to a room at Rob’s Place were it not for the fact that I have no money. I am stuck here with little more than a quarter tank of gas, block of cheese, white corn tortillas, and three apples for it appears my accountant again forgot (or was unable) to pay me. Perhaps my employees or shareholders executed a hostile take-over during my travels.
But this is Hueco for despite the weather, every camping spot is taken. Tomorrow is suppose to suck as well. But hopes are for Saturday to bring sunshine and weather more suitable for even the hardcore who are holding up in their tents, hands tucked beneath legs, arms, and double layers of blankets. I believe those climbers with companions are definitely better-off than those of us who travel solo.
Hueco, Day 3
The night time low has risen to the high twenties while the day time high might have reached the mid-fifties, in the sun warm enough to remove shirts and long pants. A few degrees are the difference between pain and pleasure. In “The Barn” at Rob’s Place (for those of you who have been here), I am tucked beneath a dusty blanket at the far end of an otherwise very unsupportive couch, finding myself drawn to the conversations that unfold here.
A classic conversation at Hueco …
Guy: Has anyone seen my crashpad?
Gal: (something I could not hear)
Guy: Dude, I’d put two hands on your neck but you’d kick me in the balls.
Gal: Yep, I’d kick you in the balls.
Guy: (pause) Dude, where’s my crashpad?
… and another …
Guy 1: I messed up my knee on Mojo.
Guy 2: No shit?[lady’s name] did that yesterday too!
Gal: (walking up) Fuck you! You didn’t! What?
Guy 1: Yeah, on Mojo. I think it will be ok.
Guy 2: Could you hear it pop? Was it loud?
Guy 1: Yeah, it was real loud. Everyone heard it.
Gal: Shit. Did it hurt? (no response)
Guy 2: That problem’s cursed, man. That’s two knees blown in two days, third one this week.
Guy 1: Yeah, that knee-drop is wicked, dude.
Guy 2: Don’t worry, if it was a tendon, you wouldn’t be walking. It will heal in a week or so. Just take it easy. Don’t press too hard tomorrow.
Guy 1: Thanks man.
… and a third …
(Six people sitting on the couches, eating from the plywood table.)
Guy 1: (to another) Hey, your head lamp is still on.
Guy 2: Yeah, noticed that, but I thought you had a hard time seeing your sandwich.
Guy 1: (to a different guy) Hey, your head lamp is on too.
Guy 3: Shit. Thanks man.
Guy 1: (to a third guy) Uh, your headlamp is on too, dude.
Guy 4: (taking another bite of his sandwich) Hey, I prefer it that way. I feel more secure.
Guy 2: (whose headlamp is off now) Does your’s have that blinking feature?
Have not been pulling too hard. Seriously humbled. Not that the ratings count, but I can’t seem to get off the ground on some V4s, let alone V6s and was really pleased to have completed a V3 [can’t recall the name] to the left of “Gloria”. Fun problem that starts with a right-to-left crimpy traverse, eases up and over a lip into a giant hueco to stand in, hands free; then drop-down around an arret to a small hueco with the left hand, drop to a corner stone with the right, then pop with the left to a huge lip, feet cut (or at least mine did). Quick match, pull-up full, place the right foot in a pocket on the same level as the hands and rock over; stand-up, step forward and then top-out starting three meters from the ground, another two meters rounds to the top of the boulder.