If someone tells you that rubber boots are a good idea to take with you on a trek in the jungle during rainy season, believe them. Do more than believe them: FOLLOW THEIR ADVICE AND TAKE RUBBER BOOTS!!! Of course, I figured rainy season was getting over and surely it can't be that bad. Why would I go out and buy rubber boots when I'll probably not use them and I'll not need them ever again.
I was burned once by unnecessary boots. I went to the Cornerstone Music Festival one year and it rained and poured and produced massive amounts of mud. It was nasty, smelly and my friend Heidi and I vowed to never again experience that. So the next year we went out to Wal-Mart and bought rubber boots which we lugged from Pennsylvania to Illinois. It didn't rain that year. Not one drop... not one little bit of rain. Those boots sat in garages for several years after that...never used and just functioning as the home of several spiders.
So, why was I going to risk buying rubber boots in Peru?
Well, a five kilometer walk in thick mud is a good reason why. I didn't realize that until we got off our canoe and started walking on the jungle path towards the lake. Everyone who was coming out of the jungle and back towards the river had on rubber boots. I was wearing my roommate's hiking boots and when some girl saw them she said "that girl is not wearing rubber boots! she should be wearing boots!" ooooohhh, bad sign. So, let's just say I wish I had those rubber boots. We spent the next two hours traipsing through the rain and on very thick and nasty mud. Most of the time with stayed along the edges of the path with walking sticks trying desperately to not slip into the mudiness. I scratched myself on branches and tried not to grab onto spiny palm trees and trying not to think about large ants or spiders that may have been calmly sitting on those branches right when I wanted to steady myself. You can imagine how tired we were to finally get to the lake!!!
Getting ready to hike to the lake. Look who the smart people are in our group!
The muddy path!
After our struggle through the mudiness of the jungle path (that had been tred by too many tourists in rubber boots), we were met by the smooth, calm, sereness of Lake Sandoval. A large undisturbed jungle lake cut off from general civilization is a thing of beauty. There was such a calmness and peacefulness there. No motor boats, no factories or sounds of people around the lake. Just us in a canoe gliding along the water looking at the ducks with the needle/snake necks or the crazy brown and orange birds that sound like they have asthma or looking for cayman alligators in the water and monkeys in the trees. We were amazed by God's beautiful creation all around.
Every once in a while our boat guide would stop the boat to look at interesting plants in the jungle ("monte" is what they called it in spanish...well, really in Quechua because monte in Spanish is mountain!). We saw a HUGE old tree with big vines growing up it. It was at least 500 years old! Can you imagine??? We saw "walking trees" which are trees with huge roots and skinny trunks that look for the sunlight and lean towards it. Their roots then grow in that direction. We saw lots of beautiful butterflies and flowers too.
I think the hibiscus is one of my favorite kinds of flowers. It always reminds me of Puerto Rico.
The walking tree....Don't walk away with me under you!!!
But nothing compared to the beauty of that lake. Serene, calm and peaceful. I want my life to be filled with a peace like that. Calm, resting and surrendered to the sovereignty of my Creator. My God is a God of Peace and He has given me the prince of peace to rule in my heart. How often do I feel like I'm struggling through a muddy trek in my life...wondering if I'll ever arrive at peace. Will it always be a struggle and a fight? Will I reach that peace? But our muddy road eventually led us to the lake...that peaceful, beautiful and serene lake.
The next day we made our way back on the muddy path. This time we rented some rubber boots. The path was worse and you had to keep moving or you might loose one of your boots in the mud!! Once when we were in the worst part of the path we passed a family who were coming in. One little girl was getting a ride on the guide's shoulders but her sister was having a worse time trying to make it through the mud. She had this look on her face that said "this is the worst experience of my life!!!" We greeted the family and encouraged them saying that it didn't get any worse along the path. And I said: "keep going, it's worth it! The lake is gorgeous!!!"
How often do I feel like I'm struggling like the little girl thinking "this is the worst experience of my life"? But I need someone to come along who has experienced the hard stuff to say: "keep going! It's worth it! What awaits you is amazing!" God's peace is there for me. It's wide, it's clear, it's amazingly deep...
Thank you Jesus for muddy walks that get me somewhere. Thank you that they come to an end and what awaits on the other side is worth it. Thank you for your amazing creation and thank you most most MOST of all for your peace.