Monday, June 04, 2007


I can't summarize the experience of being married or the wedding briefly enough to not be gushy, so I'm going to zoom straight ahead to the honeymoon.

We found ourselves on the beautifully gorgeous La Haut Plantation in St. Lucia, where our room overlooked two enormous volcanic mountains and the Caribbean Sea. Obviously, our first task upon seeing the mountains was to climb them. We took an $80 taxi ride on St. Lucia's only road, which runs around the perimeter of the mango shaped island, to get to the bottom of Le Gros Piton.

Oh, so cocky we were. We didn't believe we needed a guide. We have hiked before! We play sports! We wore t-shirts proclaiming our athletic allegiances. Nonetheless, we were introduced to Marva, who would guide us up the 2 mile trail into the sky.

Marva was as tall as Corey and shaped just like him. She quickly informed me she has climbed this mountain at least once every single day for 15 years, sometimes twice. Marva was wearing a t-shirt and mesh shorts and loafers. I became even more certain this would be a baby climb.

At first, Marva peppered us with fun facts as we began the gentle climb. She has never come in lower than 4th place in a marathon. This trail will require 17,000 footsteps from top to bottom. Twenty percent of hikers do not reach the summit. Once, on a tour she guided, a lady had a heart attack and died at the top. She plucked a mango from a nearby tree and started skipping straight up the rocky face without using her hands.

Four seconds later, I thought I would have to quit. Marva and Corey were running up the hill like lemurs. I was heaving and wringing the sweat from my soaked clothing. I felt like my nephew, using both hands to labor up the 25% grade. My heart beat so quickly and thunderously I thought I, too, might have a heart attack. I have never been so humbled in my life.

Halfway up the mountain, Corey decided not to scamper ahead with Marva. He lingered behind with his dying wife and helped me take smaller steps, reminded me to drink juice. "This is just like cycling," he told me, fantasizing about riding his Surly down the rocky face. It started to pour and the climb became slippery in addition to impossible. I prayed for the strength to finish.

Marva reached the summit and whipped out her mango. She wasn't even sweaty. When I finally lumbered up there, the rain clouds were so thick I couldn't even see the view. It didn't matter, though. The mountain had not beaten me entirely. I felt like I had conquered the world. Marva told me Le Petit Peton is more fun for her because the climb is nearly vertical and climbers must use ropes to ascend. I sprawled on a rock and prayed she would eventually get fat.

Climbing down was just as bad as climbing up, as I needed to use my hands and arms to lower myself down the steep, jaggy rocks. When I woke up the next morning, I felt worse than I did after my first rugby match. I spent the rest of my honeymoon soaking my sore legs and cursing the awful pride that allowed me to underestimate one of nature's most intense creations.

The experience has made me want to really dedicate myself to my fitness. To not just talk about it but actually become fit again, until I can really climb any mountain any time. Next time, Marva, I will keep up with you. And my loafers will have fewer scuffs on the toes.


Anonymous said...

You just made my day! You're alive and back! I missed your blog...


Jane said...

In loafers? She climbed that thing in LOAFERS? She should set a better example than that.
Glad Team Lev is back!

Emily said...

I have never been so motivated to go on vacation before!!