Bryan barely finished screaming the hard “K” on the last syllable of “Rock” before there was blood on my leg and a dreadful look of terror Lauren’s face as we all realized our predicament. My eyes drifted from Lauren’s face to her foot, which was jammed between the large rock that had been dislodged from the cliff-side and a guava tree root. My eyes then drifted to my own leg that had a decent stream of blood running down my calf. As the blood reached my socks, all I could think of was that I was grateful that I wore my usual tall black socks so the blood wouldn’t stain. Lauren’s face, which due to our sunbathing on the beach usually had a decent tan, was flushed of color. As Bryan moved into action and began to help Lauren maneuver her foot from under the rock I turned my attention to the bounty of guava above our heads. I could not feel anything. A beetle’s buzzing interrupted the eery silence. As the color returned to Lauren’s face, as she gradually became less stuck in the rocks, I reached down and fed her a few succulent guavas. The juices were unlike that of any other guava. The guava was so red it looked as if a fly were to land on it, the fruit would burst and coat the fly in its mushy sweetness. With my mouth full of the berries and my hands ready with the second shipment, the shock faded and my senses gradually returned to me. I felt the sting in my leg, I heard Bryan’s soothing yet coaxing encouragement to Lauren, I heard Lauren’s wavering but focused speech pattern. It was then I realized what just happened, where I was, and what would soon come. I took a timid glance at the 85-degree drop to the bottom of the mountain and I wanted to loose myself to shock again.
We had gone on a weekend excursion to hike La Pouce, the third highest mountain in Mauritius. About halfway up the mountain the incline shifted from a manageable 50 degrees to a steeper 75-degree slant. With the sun threatening to descend beyond the tree line, Vedant, Lindsay, and Brittany decided to begin their descent giving Bryan, Lauren, and me until 3:00 p.m. to reach the top. As we continued our journey, our hike gradually shifted into a climb as we walked on all fours, digging into the loose soil, grabbing trees, and lodging our feet in rocks. We finally hit a dead end as we approached the steep face of the cliff. Determined to reach the top of La Pouce, Bryan began to climb the rock face. It was then that he reached for the large rock that seemed to be a part of the larger cliff.
After the Lauren unjammed her foot, the rock plummeted for ten long seconds through trees, thorn bushes and other rocks. Nervous glances flittered across our faces as we contemplated climbing down the mountain. We recognized though, that regardless of how difficult descent would be, we had to beat the sun; and race the sun indeed. We slid, dropped, hung, climbed, hiked, and fell down La Pouce, exiting the tree line with time to spare before sundown. After telling Vedant about our adventures, Lauren asked what would have happened had one of us broken a bone on the cliff face. Vedant said that the helicopter would not have come that day. When asked why not, he replied, “No rush. They could just come tomorrow to get the body”.
That day was arguably the best and most exciting day in Mauritius.
My week has been much like my climb up La Pouce – tumultuous and painful at times, but ultimately rewarding. My students on Monday at the Naw-N-Shaw center struggled to maintain focus, and resultantly the class ended up serving as a daycare program rather than a creative writing class. On Wednesday I tried to change the lesson plan to teach them about leadership and respect. This had a somewhat positive outcome as the students worked together to complete various team building tasks and communication exercises such as Simon Says. Finally, on Friday the students successfully completed their “Where I’m From” poems in which they discussed their favorite family traditions, foods, music, sports, and colors through poetic language. As each student handed in their poems with their names at the top it was as if I once again found the guava on the cliff side. Yes the climb through the week had been tough, as most of my class time was used to establish or maintain order in the classroom, but finishing the week with a substantial article of the students’ creativity was as sensational as a red luscious guava bursting in my mouth.
Keep checking the blog to see the students’ poetry!