Climbers Conquer Pico Duarte
Pico Duarte, the highest point in the Dominican Republic, beckoned with promises of adventure. The original instigators of the trip dropped out at the last minute, leaving four eager beavers crazy enough to commit to the expedition. The co-conspirators assumed alternative identities to protect their reputations as respectable citizens: La Doña (me), Mr. Congeniality (Fred), Euell Gibbons (Delbert McCluskey, an experienced AID officer), and Dirk Pathfinder (Adam Namm, a first-tour consular officer).
From Voluntary Nomads, Part Six: Dominican Republic Dramas, Chapter 26:
Climb of a Lifetime
The explorers prepared for a long weekend of camping and strenuous hiking. In spite of Dirk Pathfinder's sturdy self-image as the epitome of readiness, he forgot his toothbrush and had to borrow one from La Doña before leaving town. After triple-checking their checklists, the intrepid bunch set off for the mountainous world of pine trees and the climb of their lives.
The first leg of their journey took them to Jarabacoa for one night in the candlelit Hotel La Montaña. If it hadn't been so dark, they might have set up bowling pins in the unusually long hallway, but they retired for the night instead. Dirk and Euell went to bed in peace, but La Doña and Mr. Congeniality weren't as lucky.
La Doña, toothbrush (her own) in hand, entered the bathroom and lit a candle on the shelf above the sink. What she saw in the shadowy mirror reflection sent her rushing back to the bedroom, waving her toothbrush wildly above her head.
"Aaack!" she screamed at Mr. Congeniality.
Following the gist of La Doña's posturing, Mr. C. snuck a peek inside the bathroom door where he discovered a family of chartreuse tree frogs secured by their orange suction cup toes to the slick yellow tile of the wall. La Doña peered around his shoulder as he pulled the shower curtain to form a barrier between the frog zone and the area of human occupation.
"That's okay, I really didn't plan to shower anyway." La Doña kept an eye on the shower curtain as she hurried to take care of her most urgent bathroom needs.
As soon as Mr. Congeniality and La Doña cuddled into a comfortable spoon position, electric service resumed. Pupil-constricting light glared down from the single bulb hanging from the high ceiling. The frog family's quack-like croaks echoed in protest.
Before Mr. C. could find the light switch, La Doña spotted a large black something in the nearest corner of the ceiling.
"Hey," she exclaimed. "What's that?"
Mr. C. toddled across the saggy mattress for a closer look. "It's just a bat."
"Just? I can't sleep with that hanging over my head."
Mr. C. jumped down and surveyed the room for potential bat-extraction tools. He grabbed his running shoe and threw it at the bat. He picked up the other shoe and tried again. Pow, the bat fell to the floor and scuttled under the bed.
"Aack!" La Doña pulled knees to chest and scrunched up against the headboard.
Mr. C. jabbed at the bat with his shoe. The bat hissed and retreated further.
"Can't you get that out of here?" A hint of hysteria shrilled in La Doña's squeak.
Valiant Mr. C. thrust shoe into darkness again. This time the bat latched on. With a single mighty swing, Mr. C. launched both shoe and clinging bat out the open window and into the starry night. The bat flew away and the shoe hit the dirt two stories below.
La Doña and Mr. Congeniality laughed themselves to sleep with the quacks of tree frogs croaking in the background. They rested well in their blissful state of ignorance, completely unaware of the perils that lurked on the rugged trail to Pico Duarte. ###
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