A Close Encounter

What began last Saturday morning as a well-meaning bike ride down El Choro Trail, a famous 25 mile Incan path that connects the outskirts of La Paz to the jungle city of Coroico, ended as a slightly scary experience for the wives waiting on the other end. When Julie and Maya (the spouse and 5 month old baby of New Zealand biker James) and I dropped off the group of 5 at the Cumbre, or start of the trail, at 11:30 am, we had little doubt that we would be picking up the adventurers no later than 8 pm in Coroico at the end of la caminata. However, as late evening rolled around and we had yet to hear anything from the group, we began to grow a little concerned. We had already unpacked all our things at a lovely animal reserve called La Senda Verde outside of town (below is a pic of me with one of the friendly monkeys on the premises); however, we had to stay in the car in town to wait for the call because there was no reception at our hostal. Thankfully, Maya is an exceptionally chill baby and put up less of a fuss about having to sleep in the back of the Bellingham's '73 LandCruiser than Jules and I did.

At around 2 am, as we were restlessly in and out of sleep, parked off the plaza in Coroico on this unfortunate rain-chilled night, our worries peaked and we began to fear the worst. Had our husbands slipped of the trail on the their bikes and slid down a cliff to their death? Had one of the group had a nasty injury and, being miles from any kind of care, the rest of the group had to carry them the remaining miles of the trail? Really, we had NO idea where they were and allowed our minds to go to the worst places- praying that they were just dealing with a bit of bike trouble and there was really nothing wrong at all.

Well, at around 10 am the next morning, almost 23 hours after their departure, feeling groggy and trying to be optimistic despite a low morale, we got the long-awaited call from our men! WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU GUYS? As hoped for, the boys (and one brave chica) had in fact experienced a great deal of bike trouble (over 20 flat tires were patched throughout the day-long trek!). Thankfully, they were safe, had hitched a ride from the end of the trail to the town we were currently in and would be there shortly. Needless to say, Julie and I rejoiced together and Maya continued on as her chilled self, having had no idea anything was ever wrong.

All in all, there were no great injuries. However, Tim did incur a centimeter deep, 2 inch wide gash on his leg during a "fight" with a jagged rock on the trail. We got a few stitches at the shady hospital in town and racked up a whopping 76 B tab! For those not so familiar with the Boliviano-Dollar exchange rate, that's right around $9. Yep, that's right- NINE DOLLARS! We may just have to dip into our emergency savings fund for that one.

Now that it's all said and done, it was an incredible experience for the bikers, and while they hated leaving us wondering if they were alive on the other side, we saw the Lord's providence through the generosity of people. Before Julie and I went to town to wait for the group's arrival, we encountered some car trouble. The Lord immediately brought along a group of Paraguayans who were in no rush but were insistent on fixing the truck before they moved on. They got dirty under the hood of the car while we entertained Maya and followed their Spanish orders for about 45 minutes.

The next day, after Tim's return, some Cuban doctors took us under their wings. They cleaned Tim's wound (pictured above, forgive the gory nature of this picture!) and gave us loads of medicine to ward off infection. While they were unable to perform stitches due to a lack of equipment, they warned us if we went to the hospital, they would have to cut the already infected cauli-flowered muscle around the gash and then sew it up. With a big gulp and "pull up your bootstraps" attitude (on my part- Tim was quite unphased), we made our way to the hospital where they welcomed us warmly and administered the sutures.

While it is now a somewhat comical story to share and refer back to, I legitimately was scared for the first time in our 10 months of marriage that perhaps the Lord had other plans for me than growing old with my husband. I will say this, that I profoundly learned the importance of memorizing scripture, of engraving the Lord's promises on my heart, because as John Piper has taught fervently on, I should not have to have my Bible in moments of crisis to speak truth and to ground my worried, wandering spirit on the solid rock.