Small children in South America are as prevalent as dogs in Southeast Asia.
Therefore, I accept it was only a matter of time until I stepped on one.
I had a day before my tour through the Parque Nacional Lauca, in Chile. Thus, I deemed it erudite to explore as much as possible. Exploring as much as possible equated seeing how far I could climb a mountain. I leashed my dusty hiking boots to my permanently dusty feet and marched towards the highest mountain in the distance. The mountain had a flag at the top of it. I surmised this was to give people like me hope.
My excitement resembled that of the first time I got my bikini line waxed: I was stimulated and skeptical. I anticipated pain. I prayed to My Alcohol God that the affliction of climbing a mountain was not as acute as my fuzzy taco being plucked. Three hours, a slew of scratches, and two topples later, I exerted the last of my labors to reach the peak. The peak of the original hill I had descended, that is. I never achieved the flag-mountain summit. With my failure a new speculation transpired: the flag was not to provide potential climbers hope, but rather to broadcast that one herculean man had ascended the mountain and publicized his abilities through a flag. I envisioned the flag mocking me as I stalked through the first steps of overgrown flat land. I was hungry, tired, and as disappointed as the time I played Glenda the Good Witch in a 6th grade play, forgot my lines, my voice cracked while singing, and I tumbled down the stairs on my major stage exit.
I trampled through the brake and brush, hurrying the hair from my eyes, when I treaded on what I deemed a pulpous rock. Except the rock yelped and then yowled. I yelled and in my consternation, leapt back, lost my footing and crashed to the ground, making about as much noise as I imagine the Eiffel Tower would make, should it ever fall.
A small Chilean girl curled in the fetal position next to me, crying as if her teddy bear´s head had just been brutally detached. I reached out, picked her up, and rocked her back and forth in my arms, repeating ¨Hola,¨ because of my newly acquired Español, I figured this was the only word we both knew.
I leered up as My First Chilean Friend´s face loomed through the reeds we were in. He had raven hair tinged with grey and smile lines creasing his face. He looked like an Inca warrior to me, coming to save his child from a Gringo. He swiftly spoke a Spanish sequence and extended his arms to his daughter. She buried her screaming head in my shoulder and I stood to return his screaming shrieking stripling to him. As the language barrier between us was apparent to me, I imitated climbing up the hill and stepping on his daughter. I did this by retreating a few steps, wiping my forehead, gasping for breath, walking forward, tripping and falling. By my flawless performance I´m convinced I could be the next Susan Sarandon. He nodded and said, ¨So you were tired and tripped over my daughter?¨ in flawless English. ¨Ya, I´m really sorry. I love kids!¨ I informed him. We talked for the next twenty minutes, me relaying to him my life story, and he revealing his pride that he was the only one living in the town with trees on his property. I hadn´t previously noticed the lack of trees in the outlying area. We concluded our friendship with cups of Cocoa Tea. I felt it rude to decline, though the tea as well as the outside temperature were scalding, and my true desire was to fall in to an ice cream lake. Sadly, while he had trees, he did not have an ice cream lake. I asked.