Saturday, December 6, 2014

Pig Bottles

My hope is that those who read this blog will realize that their own life is an adventure. Making a 2 year old giggle, finding the perfect gift for a friend, or watching the sunrise can be an adventure if we have the right attitude. When I sign my book I write, "Enjoy the adventure of life." That is truly my hope - that those who read my blog or The Seamstress of Jamestown will enjoy life to the fullest, seeing everyday events as adventures. But then there are the adventures that are so exciting you wish they weren't happening! These are unpleasant at the time but make great stories years later. So I will tell about an adventure that is interesting to me because it happened 30 years ago. That is enough time lapse to see it as a great story and not present trauma.

I was spending time alone at a nice hotel on the island of Kauai. It was really more like condos - a two-story structure with little apartments. There was an office where I could ask the manager for information. But I didn't need that! I was adventurous, and enjoyed exploring.

Every day I went on a little adventure. I would drive and sightsee until I reached an interesting spot, then hike a little. One day I took an unplanned hike down into Waimea Canyon. Not having intended to take a long hike, I only had one small plastic water bottle in my backpack which was 3/4 full. It was one of those trails that has a sign-in sheet at the top, so that if you disappear they know where to search for the body. On my hike down, I saw a large plastic water bottle hanging on a tree. It was a gallon jug hanging by its handle on a dead branch of a dried up tree - the only tree in sight. There was about an inch of warm water in the bottom. I made a mental note of it thinking I might find it useful on the way back up. I was passed by a man and his son on the way down but never saw them again, nor anyone else.

By the time I reached the bottom of the canyon, I was exhausted and HOT! My head was throbbing. I splashed myself with the creek water, even dunking my head to soak my hair. It didn't last long. I was soon as dry as the red dust that covered the canyon walls. The creek water was literally swimming with bugs. My California girl brain forbid me to drink it. I figured I could always drink that water in the tree bottle. Thirty years ago we didn't know there were carcinogenic PCB's in plastic bottles baking in the hot sun.

I started back up. The first quarter mile had some trees and shade. I picked up 2 pieces of fruit from the ground and put them in my backpack. I had no idea what they were. Why were they on the ground uneaten by the father-son pair or any wild animals? Perhaps they were poisonous. After that there was nothing but red sand trail, burning sunshine, throbbing head, and sitting to rest every quarter mile. I finally broke down and ate the fruit. I survived.

It didn't take long for that fruit liquid to dehydrate, but I was optimistic remembering the tree bottle. After many rest stops, I finally spied it. I forced myself to trudge to the little tree. The bottle was empty! How rude of someone to drink MY water. Obviously, I wasn't thinking very clearly by that time. I rested again then determined to make it about another quarter mile.

On the steep descent, there was one part of the trail that had been washed out. On my energetic beginning downhill, I leapt over the two-foot chasm with bravery. On the way back up, I was barely dragging my feet with every step. When I arrived there, I paused disheartened. There was no way I could leap over anything. It was the only way. So I mustered every ounce of energy I had left, threw my backpack over first, then took a slower than running start and just barely made it. I lay on the other side with my head pounding.

I continued my slow trek and finally arrived at the top of the trail. The sun was just setting. I signed the book so whoever cared would know I had made it out. I drove a little further up the road to a small store and got water. I drove many miles back to my hotel, slowly.

The following morning, I stopped in the office just to have someone to chat with about my adventure. They informed me that that tree bottle was called a "pig bottle." It was a plastic bottle left hanging on the tree by a wild pig hunter (wild pig or wild hunter? both). The manager said a pig hunter would just as soon shoot a haole (white foreigner) as a pig! They had 100 haoles that had "disappeared" on Kauai - bodies never to be found.

My husband says I must have a band of guardian angels. I plunge into life and think later. I never do anything that seems dangerous, such as bungee jumping, but manage to get myself into these adventures. Perhaps that is why I view life as an adventure. Or perhaps it is because I view life as an adventure that I get into these fixes. In any case, it's better that being bored. May you enjoy the adventure of life!

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