Monday, January 14, 2008

2 arms and 2 legs still

Many lessons can be learned stranded in the Florida Everglades for 15 days with your life stored away in a canoe and faced with the stench of 11 other people who just like you, have been shower free and growing mildew on every part of clothing and body part.

I am back. Whole.

I have found myself laughing at the most unlikely moments, both during my experience and reflecting on it. For instance, laughter was my reaction to the knee-high mud that we trucked through one steaming afternoon, “examining the wildlife that exists within the bottom of the ocean.” We could only discover these creatures at the point of low tide, in which we plowed into the mud, only to find it very similar to the feeling of quick sand. As I said, much laughter followed.

Awkward laughter existed the first time I had to hang my rear over the side of the canoe to pee, while holding onto dear life, that I would not fall into the creature filled water below.

Nervous laughter thrived in the discovery of our home for one evening: a shark-filled cove where little sharks liked to bump into the sides of our canoes.

Delirious laughter came on the tenth day when I could no longer smell my stench and the reality of what I was doing started to bring insanity. As we crossed the Gulf of Mexico on day ten, I said to my fellow teammates: “I am going to roll off this canoe, but don’t save me. I am going to drift away to Cuba, meet my husband, and raise 11 kids.”

I was gone.

I canoed 90+ miles, pooped in a bucket named “Juan,” ate more tortillas than what seems humanly possible, slept on boarded canoes, and learned what my body really smells like under pressure.I enjoyed roughly two pairs of clothes, endured sun-burned hands, handled hair that hadn’t experienced any form of soap for 14 days, and didn’t hear a cell phone ring, let alone any form of contact with the world.

I will proudly categorize all of the above as “fun.” Not your normal kind of fun, but a challenging and insightful experience. I enjoyed the people and scenery that surrounded me. You haven’t seen the stars until you’ve seen them in the Florida Everglades. You can’t say you have gone camping until you have camped like this.

I am now: cultured.

It will take awhile. Take awhile to be comfortable with the feeling of cleanliness and technology; for my back to adjust to a soft mattress. A part of me is reluctant to conform back to the ways of society. Everything was simple on that canoe.

And possibly I will find a way to keep that here, to not let go of the simplicity.

It will be hard, but I will fight for it.