A week ago Monday we set off to hike Pico Duarte with the boys group (all E.C. students hike it; they have a girls trip and a boys trip), a toddler, and a 10 month old. We probably looked pretty funny- me hiking in my neck brace (neck still hurting from a somersault incident over 3 weeks ago), Daniel carrying Timmy in a hiking backpack, and one of the students carrying Timmy in the Ergo.
The first day was easy- an hour or so hike into Base camp. We ate dinner, put the boys to bed, and went to bed early ourselves. However, I had a very difficult time sleeping (in spite of the rolled up mattress pad we brought due to my neck issues). I finally fell asleep sometime after 3:30AM (I may have slept about an hour during the beginning of the night, but I wasn't sure).
The next day (Tuesday) we woke up around 6:00 to get an early start to the day and set off with the medium group (a student still carrying Timmy). The hike was tough- 4-5 hours of steep uphill until the lunch stop (aguita fria). 2-3 hours of steep downhill (slipped many times) to Peak camp. We switched Timmy between three different students this day (one student took him for the days following). He did well; he cried a few times when he was tired and only once was it more than 5 minutes until he fell asleep (at the end he cried about 10-15 before he was out). Jer was also pretty content, though we let him get out a few times to walk a bit. When we finally arrived to camp we were exhausted. Poor Daniel was worn out from carrying Timmy, and I was worn out from lack of sleep (and an early/surprise visit from a little friend that I didn't discover until later). That night I took two benedryl (I was also trying to fight off a cold/bad allergies) and slept wonderfully (at least as much as is possible with a 10 month old).
Wednesday the students hiked up to the peak. I had already planned on staying behind with the boys, knowing that they needed a day to be carrier-free. However, since but me and another staff were feeling under the weather, Daniel also stayed behind to give me a rest while he played with the boys in the morning. We've both been to the peak before and didn't feel the need to go again. Later that day all three boys took a good long nap in the tent while I played cards with some of the students and staff. The rest refreshed us and we were ready to hike out of peak camp to the valley (where we'd never been).
On Thursday, I decided to take it easy and take a mule up to Aguita Fria (we put Jer on the mule with another staff that had years of experience and could carry him while riding) and then hiked the longggggg was down to the valley. The first part of that hike was great- we (our family and the student carrying Timmy, and later another staff) sang, played 20 questions, told stories, etc. However, the last 1-1 1/2 was brutal. Not only was it steep (and I fell a few times, jostling my neck even more), but Timmy screamed for about an hour straight. Nothing we did (besides taking him out) helped. Finally, when we saw we were a few hundred feet from the camp, I took him out of the carrier and he was instantly happy. That evening we hung out by the campfire and chatted with students and staff.
Friday began with a berry hunt for fruit to eat with our granola for breakfast. It was absolutely delicious! The rest of the day included: games for students, swim/wash in the river, afternoon rest/free time, dinner, more chatting around the campfire, and a finale of singing (the Dominicans sang/played to us with their make-shift instruments and we sang a few songs for them. That night (following some restless sleep) we awoke to Jeremiah throwing up. After cleaning him up and letting him warm up by the fire, we took him back inside for a few more hours of sleep.
Saturday morning (Daniel's birthday) we packed up, make a birthday cake out of a breakfast bar (I'd brought candles), sang to Daniel, and took the long hike out. Once again, Jer and I were on mules for the first few hours up to give Daniel a rest. Then we hiked the rest of the long way out. After a few mishaps (a few students getting lost, a mule falling off the mountain while rolling around on his back with our gear at a rest stop; the mule was okay, by the way), we arrived back at the beginning, where Daniel was "SPAM"ed (the act of throwing the birthday boy/girl into the river or some other watery location, like a pool). An hour drive and we were back on campus.
We had a great trip, but I am glad to be back! And I've discovered that hiking is much kinder on my neck than daily life (by Friday my neck was feeling much better for the first time in weeks. But today, after doing household chores, it's starting to hurt again). So, that's our Pico adventure! The boys had a great time and received lots of attention. Jer's had a few more bouts of throw-up/diarrhea, but seems to be on the mend. Daniel enjoyed his birthday celebration as well as the flan I had someone make for us while we were away. And we'll see how my neck does now that I'm back to household duties... Pictures to follow eventually...