Most of the time I think life throws signs at you. I call them red flags to make you take the right path in whatever you are doing. Nowadays let’s say I am more aware after working so much on my own self-growth. So when I notice life showing me the signs, I analyze them and see which consequences can come from decisions I make. But there was a time when I was not that aware and consequences were not even an issue.
If I am not wrong, I think I was probably 22 years old, in college and it was Easter time. In Peru, it is usually a holiday from Thursday to Sunday, so most of the people choose to go out of town. I remember everybody had plans except me. I felt kind of pathetic because for years I would always be doing something fun around this time. All of a sudden, one of my best friends and I made plans from nowhere. We planned to go to these beautiful falls that everybody was talking about. We knew just the two of us would be kind of weird to go alone, so she asked a friend of hers to go, and I asked a friend too. We were 2 girls and 2 boys in this last minute adventure.
My mom and I have a very good relationship. She always gave me freedom, and I pretty much made wise decisions. When I told my mom that I was going to go to the Palacala Falls (Las Cataratas de Palacala) with 3 more friends, she actually said, “You shouldn’t go.” To my surprise, my mom was telling me not to go. I didn’t understand why because other years we have gone camping with friends and that was never a problem. When I asked her why, she really didn’t have a clear answer; she just kept saying: “Do not go.”
There was my first sign, and I totally ignored it. All we knew was that it was a beautiful hike that would take probably 3 hours minimum. We were excited about that. While my mom was not really giving me her blessing to go, she respected my decision. At the same time, my girlfriend told her parents where we were going; they were not happy either. Her dad was very specific in saying that it was not a good idea. He even followed us with the car to convince us not to go, another sign right? But we ignored him. We kept going and started our adventure.
The 4 of us took a bus and tried to get the closest to the falls to start hiking, but after so much traffic and not really having a good plan we arrived pretty late to start the hike and decided to crash in whatever place. We saw this club that was a train car in a small mountain. I remember it being so cheap, but we were looking to have some fun. It was Thursday, the beginning of Easter. We all decided we wanted to go dancing, so we looked for the cheapest hotel around the area just to leave our stuff so we didn’t have to take it to the club. What we found was so nasty, but we just rented it to leave things so we thought it would be okay. I drank more than I should have. My 2 male friends disappeared, and I will be forever grateful for my girlfriend who was there with me when a guy tried to take me upstairs. I was so drunk that I thought I was actually going upstairs with him. My girlfriend just took my hand and told me to stay with her. I will say that was another sign that I ignored.
The night ended, and we knew that Friday was the start of our hike. We had to rest a little bit to have the energy to hike, so we went back to our 0 stars hotel. But it was closed! Nobody was answering the door, so we just sat by the stairs waiting for someone to open. All of a sudden, 2 guys from nowhere appeared to the rescue and asked us what we were doing just sitting there. We explained that whoever was in charge of that place was not answering. The guy just told us not to worry, broke in and got us in our bedroom. I guess they also stayed there, right? Another clear sign for me now that I was not really thinking of the consequences of what could go wrong.
I remember being worried that these 2 strangers were in our bedroom, and our 2 male friends were just sleeping. I remember giving looks to my girlfriend to see what the heck we could do to get rid of these 2 other guys that looked kind of creepy. Finally we told them to go and pretty much pushed them away and closed our bedroom door. We were exhausted; it was already probably like 6am, and we needed to get rid of our hangover. After some sleep, we went to have breakfast. It was Good Friday, and as a Catholic culture, we were not supposed to eat meat. But, come on, we were having an adventure. We ate sausage and started to get ready for the hike, which we still had no idea where to even start.
We finally got to the trailhead, and with all our backpacks and sleeping bags ready, we started to hike. Not having any idea what time it was, and seeing people actually coming down the mountain, we didn’t have the idea that maybe it was too late to start this. This was a sign that I will say screamed at me: “This is not a good idea! Just go back!” We continued anyway.
We had a lot of fun going up. We also fought because our 2 male friends were drinking the water and soda too fast, and we were all walking at a different pace. I remember walking and walking for hours and feeling that sensation of “Where are the fricking falls!!??” We started to notice that people were not coming down anymore and that the sun was going away. We tried to hurry, but all of a sudden, it became pitch black...