I spent most of yesterday huffing and puffing my way up a mountainside and through the wilderness, swatting away bugs (giant and teensy) that were incessantly buzzing in my ears and/or attempting to attack me, and trying not to think of all the slithery critters that were probably resting near the very overgrown path on which we were stomping.
None of this was part of my plan.
Our goal for the day was to see an unrestored, or "wild" section of The Great Wall. How beautiful and fascinating I thought it would be to see a part of The Wall that showed off the splendor of being 2300 years old; that wasn't filled with hoards of tourists and didn't look like it could've been built last week.
How hard could it be, right? We'd just hire a driver, pack some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and have a leisurely stroll and picnic lunch on the crumbling stones. It would be lovely.
I didn't have a good feeling from the moment our driver dropped us off in a little village, gestured in a general direction, and said, "About twenty minutes that way." The Wall was absolutely no where in sight.
But off we went with our pals, Rachael and Jerrod, wandering up the side of the mountain.
|We had no idea what the day would bring! Which is the only explanation for why everyone is smiling.|
About twenty minutes in, our path was blocked by some tall bushes that were completely covered in thorns. Obviously we were going the wrong way. We did the only logical thing and turned around to head back to the car. Except we bumped into two young Brits, who insisted the right way was through the thorn bushes. They had been told by a Chinese guide to keep walking east, and that the trail to The Wall was "treacherous."
Hmmm. Surely the translation was wrong. By "treacherous," the guide surely meant "relaxing" or perhaps "really easy."
So through the thorn bushes we went.
|I could not save my torso from the angry wrath of the thorns, but I could save my arms. Rachael and Jerrod got pretty scratched up. Thankfully, the fur on Curtis's legs seemed to save him. |
Which is why I'm now considering growing mine out.
As we climbed further up the path, the bugs would not leave us alone. Rachael walked right into a huge spider web, which probably enraged its inhabitant. Flying things wouldn't stop buzzing in our ears and swarming around our water bottles. When we put the bottles away, they started flying directly into our eyes. What I'm trying to say is that I'm pretty sure the crazy bugs were trying to drink the moisture off our eyeballs. I had to pick like, SIX thirsty bugs out of Curtis's eyes. That, my friends, is love.
While all that was happening, I was also dripping in sweat and having a heckuva time catching my breath going uphill no matter how many little breaks I took. Apparently couch-sitting is not a good cardio workout.
|Jerrod and Rachael were always a bit ahead of us. You see, they are the kind of people who say things like, "When we climbed Mount Rainier..." whereas I say things more along the lines of, "Can I have some of your cheese?"|
Oh and did I mention-- The Wall was still absolutely no where in sight.
After hiking for well over an hour, I could feel the utter and complete hopelessness start to set in. I was ready to give up. Who cares about a stupid, old wall anyway??? And that's when I knew we had to be close-- because if there's one thing I know about life, it's that just when things seem totally hopeless is exactly when it all turns around for the better. (Usually. I mean, sometimes. Okay... once in a while.)
Sure enough, about ten minutes later, Jerrod and Rachael yelled out, "It's The Wall!"
Holy cannoli. We were beside ourselves with joy.
|Synchronized jumping for a photo is a good way to document happiness.|
Soon we were exploring and marveling at the rugged beauty of The Wild Wall, munching on our peanut butter and jellys, and sipping the wine that Rachael and Jerrod thoughtfully brought along. It was perfect.
|Here you have six hard-earned photos of beauty.|
And not even the very long snake skin dangling from a nearby tree could ruin it.
|Horrifying. Juuuuuust horrifying.|