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Never Look Down
September 17 2008

Ecuador can be a beautiful place to visit filled with a mysterious natural wonder that can only be found in the jungles of the Amazon rainforest. I have visited there many times in my life and have always experienced something new every time Iíve traveled to that glorious country. From its beaches where crabs run free and dolphins are your beach buddies, to the city markets where you can purchase a rug woven from llama fur that was probably skinned the day before by the same person selling it to you. The mountains are especially marvelous, where tiny native Indians live in villages and offer you fresh cut boar that you can actually see hanging on a hook in front of you. The 4 foot tall Indians are very hospitable and kind and in no way hostile towards visiting travelers. People here in the states, like so many friends of mine, sometimes fear traveling outside of our nationís borders. Itís natural and perfectly understandable to fear the unknown, yet I must stress to all the readers of this story that if you havenít experienced that other nations of our planet for whatever reason, Iím telling you that if you can summon the courage to make the journey, the rewards will be beyond your wildest dreams. Humility is an admirable and priceless virtue in our day in age. If any of you heed my advice I promise youíll be enlightened.
I was 18 years old when it happened for me. It was the year 2001 and I was visiting Ecuador during my last summer vacation before moving to the dorm rooms at Mercer University in GA, my new home. I was staying at the beach house of a friend of my family, and this beach called Olon was in the most desolate place in the entire country, there were no phones and no hospitals, just a small market for rice and a tiny clinic with their best medicine being a box of decade old bandages. There was nothing, and there was everything. I would wake up early in the mornings and walk along the beach to watch the fisherman trying catch anything they could I imagine. They used rickety old wooden boats and simple nets they would throw over and over again in the hopes of landing a meal for their families, I always bought extra food for the villagers when I could seeing as how I came from more fortunate standings, when I made the eight hour drive from the city to initially get to the beach I tried to bring as much supplies as I could carry for the people. They were very grateful and actually taught me how to surf and fish as well as how to catch and cook clams.
Well, let me see if I can paint a proper picture of the surroundings for you. Walking out of the beach house, a person would walk maybe around fifty paces until your feet hit the water, and if you look right you see nothing but endless beach, as far as the eye could see. When you look left, you see about a mile of beach and then enormously tall and wide cliffs that actually extend and hang over the water. Itís really an amazing site. At the top of this cliff is a large architectural structure that does in fact look like a giant church, due to the giant cross overlooking the water and the peak edge of the cliff, well it is. Actually itís an ancient monastery that still stood after about a hundred or so years I believe. Now you must understand that Ecuador is an extremely religious country and they have architectural beauty like that all over their landscape, from the cities to the mountains, etc. So to witness this was nothing out of the ordinary, but it doesnít make a person any less intrigued and interested, thatís for sure.
So awake and feeling great about such a wonderful day, and due to the fact that my friend and tour guide enjoyed his whisky a little too much the night before, I decided to take a walk to go see this Monastery. So I was walking up the side of which had a small dirt trail formed from people walking from village to village quite often for various reasons. I walked around the structure of the cathedral and was amazed at its brilliance, and beauty. I took a look around and decided Iíd seen enough and decided to take one more walk around before heading back down the beach, and I stopped at the giant cross at the peak of the cliff to examine it more closely. I had wondered if it was about the size of the real cross that Jesus had died on, being that the specimen in front of me was about the size of a man and very large. I walked to the edge of the cliff and looked down seeing water and rocks about 90 feet below me, and just as I thought I wouldnít even dream of rock diving for fun off this cliffÖit happened. The dirt and the roots beneath my feet gave way and I fell. I donít know what happened next, I just remember splashing and being submerged under water between giant sharp rocks, feeling the pain of the belly flop but being too distracted and confused to care or even notice. The current wasnít too strong being early in the morning, so I was able to swim around and reach the sand and solid ground. I stumbled onto the beach and crashed down still in disbelief. I looked around and there was no one in sight, no villagers, no fisherman. It was just me and my thoughts.
I'm not a religious person by nature, but i'll tell you, I became a spiritual person on that morning.

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Comments from Our Readers

  "Beautiful, poetic story. Thanks." - Stan, September 18 2008 - reply

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