“ Hazme un favor y vaya al Alto de Tabor.”
I foolishly accepted the task before even knowing what I was getting into. However, it was my mother’s wish, and whatever she wanted, I would fulfill, as I had three weeks to do what she hadn’t in twenty years.
I was thousands of miles away from home with people I had met just days before. My family, though we are united by blood, were divided by the long and vast Atlantic and I had only just got to see them for the first time. I remember leaving my mother’s firm embrace and taking my last glance at her before suddenly landing at the poor village where she grew up and shaking the calloused hands of her humble people.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
I was not yet accustomed to the thatched roof and single bed-room, shed-like house of my Abuela when my mother called me, telling me to go to the Alto de Tabor with my cousins. Thinking it was some sort of shopping plaza or mall I agreed to go the following morning. A sunrise and a couple of loud roosters later I woke up to go this “plaza” with my cousins, uncle, and family friend. Then, I was told more information about the destination.
We had to hike a mountain to get to the Alto de Tabor.
Being from sea-level Miami, hiking a mountain and walking a decent seven-or-so miles was not something that was going to be easy. Nonetheless, I already accepted my mother’s challenge.
Just an hour into the hike I lost patience the trip. Why couldn’t I just ride a car to the alto? Certainly the scrapes from sharp plants and the pain on my calves was not doing a good job in convincing me that climbing the mountain would be a fun experience. However, I was sure that when I got to the Alto, at least I would get some food to feed my grumbling stomach.
I obviously forgot I was in the middle of the mountain.
I finally arrived to the peak when I discovered a small, empty chapel. That was the Alto de Tabor. Just like when I laid eyes on my abuela’s house for the first time my heart sank when I discovered the small locale and no food stop anywhere near it.
An uptown girl from Miami, Florida hiked up a mountain by foot, and rather than enjoy the view and appreciate the achievement I was crying about my hunger and the pain.
A while later I noticed that everywhere I turned from the Alto de Tabor I had a view of a different mountain. At every direction and at every degree, whether above my height or below it. The air was crisp and the vegetation was lush, and life was invigorating each and every sight.
While initially the journey to the Alto de Tabor was just to fulfill my mother’s wish, the walk the mountain left me with a new sense of history, a new sense of admiration, and a new sense of accomplishment. The Columbian mountains provided me with insight to the lives of these patient people, people that actually scale these behemoths on a daily basis to milk their cattle or buy an orange. While this small American girl withered in pain from scaling her first mountain she finally fell asleep with the satisfaction of telling her mother she fulfilled her task and gained a new level of respect for the people that walk to the Alto de Tabor miles away from their home just to go to Sunday mass.
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