Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta mountain. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta mountain. Mostrar todas las entradas

miércoles, 25 de abril de 2018

Elipo and its eagles


   For some reason, the gigantic birds liked to fly around the volcano, doing many turns until they seemed to feel it was enough, and then they flew away to their nests, down in the base of the mountain. Many scientists had regaled for many years, visiting Elipo Island and watching the beautiful red birds fly around the mountain. It was one of those beautiful thing from nature you just had to see once in your lifetime and many had already did that from their comfortable chairs at home.

 Elipo was an island that, for many years, had been left alone by civilization. But as transportations got better and faster and communications made everyone accessible in seconds, there was an urge to discover everything there was to uncover in the world around us. So many scientists embarked for remote regions, trying to document in any way, shape or form, all the new species of plants and animals that they could find. It was a new age of discovery and every single person in the world was a part of it.

 The so-called eagles of Elipo were the most interesting species that had been found in recent years in that corner of the world. They were a strange animal, as birds would normally fly long distances to make nests or get food. But the red eagles did not do that at all. They liked to stay on Elipo, flying around the volcano and then getting food in the small patch of jungle that covered must of the island. They could feed on small lizards and tiny mammals that were very agile and would give up a nice fight.

 The eagle’s favorite food was the Elipo hedgehog, an especially large kind of hedgehog that fed on various smaller animals and fruits that it found laying around in the jungle. One of the best scenes to witness for a scientist would be the fight between an eagle and a hedgehog. The first one would be coming from above, just after locating its prey visually. It would come down at full speed, trying to use the element of surprise as a weapon. The shape of such a living bullet was just an amazing thing to see.

 However, the hedgehogs had lived there as long as the eagles and they had learned to notice the changes in the wind around them in order to notice any incoming dangers. So right before the eagle could grab them to take them away, the hedgehogs would turn into a very tight ball, with all its spines rising towards the sun. The eagle would then land on the ground, unable to properly carry its food, and proceed to attack its prey with its beak. You have to remember eagles in Elipo are at least twice as big as normal eagles, so the fight would be a very interesting sight.

 The hedgehog would then stay as a ball or sometimes open up and fight the eagle with the spines in its forehead, which tended to be longer and sharper. A fight between the two animals could last a few minutes or several hours. Many scientists would disrupt these encounters by making sounds, caused by an overwhelming fatigue. No one had ever seen a long fight between those two creatures in its entirety. And most times, none of the animals ended up dead. A draw was the most common outcome.

 However, eagles won enough times to feed themselves and their young with the body of one large hedgehog. It was more than enough for most of them. Elipo was a place of harmony and animals were never “bad” or “good”, they didn’t act on despair or anything like that: they had easy access to fresh water, to food and to places were they could take care of their families. Before the arrival of humans, they had nothing to fear. As you might have guessed, not every incoming human was a scientist.

 Hordes of hunters and animal traffickers had discovered these new places were they could go and get all the animals they wanted with almost no resistance from the countries allegedly controlling the area or by the local tribes that inhabited these remotes areas of the world. They learned soon that there was no way they could stop the cruelty of the white man with their weapons, so they decided to pull back and just be silent witnesses to the horrible things those men and women did in the jungle.

 So these horrible people soon got to Elipo and got to meet the beautiful eagles and the hedgehogs they ate. The first ones to get trapped were the latter ones, as they were craved all around the worlds as pets. Besides that, they knew that by depleting the food resources of the eagles, the birds would be weaker and they would be less willing to fight them the moment the hunters and traffickers started climbing the volcano to get them. The eagles noticed very soon that something was very wrong in the island.

 After a couple of weeks, the number of hedgehogs had dropped dramatically and eagles had no real way of supporting themselves and their young. That moment was used by the evil men to climb up the mountain and start grabbing eagle eggs and young chicks from their nests. Of course, that caused a horrible respond from the eagles, which tried to defend themselves against the traffickers but that was a lost battle. Those people had guns and many other weapons, so the eagles could only scratch some of them badly before been killed or having to escape from the area.

When the scientists came back from their period of rest, they noticed that Elipo was dying. Not only the eagles were very scarcer, the hedgehogs and other animals had almost disappeared from the island. They tried to do their best to help the species gain the territories they had once held, as well as their older numbers but that seemed impossible. The traffickers had done so much damaged; it was possible no one could ever make up for it, not even if they spent years working there.

 And the scientists could not just stay there, they had to leave for a while and, when the local government realized what had happened, they banned any ships from abroad to enter the area. They argued that it would stop poaching but it really didn’t, as most traffickers used local boats and were people from the region. They had to be in order to have all the information necessary to get all those animals and their young, as well as many plants, which they sold to the pharmaceutical companies.

 The scientist decided to talk to the regional communities, especially the indigenous ones, in order for them to better protect the area. It wasn’t really a surprise when they realized that Elipo Island had always been a sort of sanctuary to them. As per their traditions, a young man had to visit the island on his fifteenth birthday. Their only task there was to climb the mountain and get a single feather from one of the birds. That meant they had become a man and they should be welcome in their communities as such.

 The scientists learned from the local peoples and they learned from the scientists new things they didn’t know about Elipo. They made an alliance to restore the island to its former glory and to fight the poachers. No weapons were used, just a lot of very smart gadgets and traps to make the evil men go away and just never return.

 Their goal was achieved, many years later, when the government recognized its poor treatment of the situation. As for the animals, that was another story. The  eagle community had been severely damaged and recovering it would take a lot longer, if it worked at all.

viernes, 11 de agosto de 2017

Too late

   Rain would fall for hours and hours. It seemed it would never end. The storm had been lashing out against the land for many days now and only from time to time it would feel like it stopped being so harsh. But then it seemed to restart again, twice as strong, relentless against anything living in the land. Even the oceans and lakes were in turmoil. Everything was upside down and people had begun to suffer serious shortages and problems, mostly related to food and general supplies.

 What families did was to ration food and try to consume as little as they could. They hardest hit groups were the ones where grandparents and small children shared a household. No one had the capacity to feed such a large amount of people and it wasn’t unheard of that so many people lived under one roof in that region. After all, it was very far away any big cities and that was the way people had lived for generations. Rain had never changed that before and this storm was no exception.

 So they had to make what they could with what they had, which wasn’t a lot but they made it last as long as they could. Fish, chicken and beef were kept like treasures and mostly vegetables were eaten because people could still try to recover some of those from beneath the mud. Some were pretty resistant like celery or carrots. So they consumed that first with maybe a little piece of actual animal fat every day. Pieces were slightly larger for children but that was not enough.

 Many children lived in those mountains and they were seriously affected by the rain. The poor quality of water to make their food and the amount of nutrients from what their parents could give them was simply not enough for them to be correctly nourished. After the first week, many children started feeling bad and many parents did the trip beneath the rain towards the small town nearby, where the only doctor in the region lived. He always had bad news for the concerned parents.

 They had malnourishing problems, very serious cases of infections and lack of proper hygiene because of the water being contaminated by damages to water pipes and so on. Many children died instantly, the others filled the few rooms the doctor had available on his small practice. He asked for help from other parts of the country but the roads were under water or severely damaged and no trains or planes could reach the remote location. They had been driven out of the world by the storm and had been let to die or starve for who know how long.

 When the elders started feeling as bad or worse than the young, people were in a general state of panic. It didn’t felt real that it was happening all at once. Some thought of the storm as a punishment from the Gods but others thought it was simply the chaotic weather changes happening all over the world. They might have not been the most well connected people in the world but many had television sets and they knew very well about climate change and what it had done in other parts of the world.

 After three weeks, an emergency team was able to reach them through the forest and then taking a very long path that made them penetrate a nature preserve. It was the only way to reach the small town and that was only because they studied several maps of the region in order to find that hidden way in. When they reached the only settlement in the mountains, they were able to tell people that a couple of helicopters had been sent before they left for their mission, but they had never called back.

 People were only shocked to hear this but only for a few minutes, because their families were suffering and it was too much to start caring for others at the moment. They needed the help the group brought them and that was the only way they could think of to change the state of things. So the volunteers, a group of fifteen men and women, got installed at the doctor’s house and started helping with vaccines and other treatments they had brought on big crates that had been carried by mules and themselves.

 Sadly, all they did was not enough to really ensure that everything was going to be fine. The rain wouldn’t stop and sick people from the most remote areas of the mountain range would come in at all time, very wet and sicker than they had left. It was a really sad thing to see for the volunteers and it was difficult for them not to be sick as well just by looking at all the despair and the human condition that was in display on that small community. It was hard and a test to their abilities.

 After a couple of days, it was decided that most of the group would go back to civilization. Only five people would remain with the doctor, in order to help with all the patients arriving and leaving every day. Besides, the townspeople needed hands to bury the people that had died and they also needed appropriate bags to do that because contamination of the water had to be avoided at all costs. The group also had to bring more people and medicines, a whole lot more than before. They left early one morning and expect to reach their destination in two days.

 And they did. However, they also encountered the crash site of one of the helicopters. The scene was gruesome and some of the helpers had to vomit right besides the wreckage because of the stench and the sight of things. They had to mark the place on a map, on their electronic devices, in order to go back there in future in order to collect the corpses and any valuables that could shed a light on the cause of the accident. But thunders above them reminded the group that the storm was the culprit, no matter the details.

 Meanwhile, in town, another tragedy happened at night and there had been no way to escape it: the mountain itself collapsed and carried several homes from almost the summit to the foot of the hill were the most densely populated part of the region was located. So bad it was, that the patients at the doctor’s house felt the rumble in the middle of the night and they alerted others in order to evacuate. But that didn’t happen because there was no other place to go besides there.

 The volunteers that had been left there had the very difficult task to find survivors. However, they soon realized that was not going to happen. They started finding bodies, after some of the mud and dirt had been washed away by the rain. It was gruesome to see their faces covered in brown or grey and their expressions of fear forever imprinted on their faces. That had been their last thing to do and it looked horrible. The volunteers, however, did what they had to do.

 People from town helped with blankets and also tablecloths and the dead were covered with those and then lined up in front of the doctor’s office. Then, one body at a time, they were carried to a clearing in the woods where the ground was firm. They had to spend several hours digging for a hole, but they did so anyways, in order to provide a dignified place to rest for the many people that had died at night, never expect nature would turn against them after so many years living there.

 It took one more week for more help to arrive. The condition of the trail they had used had decreased and the amount of things they brought was not easy to transport. Besides, many people on the outside world wanted to help, to do something for those poor souls.


 The storm ended two weeks after than, suddenly one afternoon. Clouds slowly floated away and the sun came back. But the lives of that community had changed forever. Death had covered them with its veil and now they couldn’t see a proper future in what had been their home for such a long time.

lunes, 7 de agosto de 2017

They speak to us

   If you stand in the bridge, you wouldn’t be able to see it. You have to walk south, by the great way. It’s a rather short walk. On the left bank, you will see a beautiful meadow plagued with trees that are not tall or especially beautiful. However, if you walk across the meadow, close to a wall that limits the growth of plants, you will see a small hill and three trees on top of it. The one with the straightest trunk, clean leaves, and no roots on sight, is the one I want to tell you about.

 Beneath that tree, a friend of mine was buried a long time ago. He was not especially strong or fit or brave. He was not particularly remarkable in any way. He was just my friend and that is the reason why that tree is so special to me. I’ve been there many times, at night and during the day, a few minutes and also several hours. And every single time I visit that place, I talk to my friend. Sometimes there is nothing to say, other times it’s different. It changes, as life happens to be.

 I like that meadow because the sunset look gorgeous from it, the golden rays from the sun seem to be touching your body in such a magical way. Even when it rains, the green field looks as if it had escaped a book of fantastical stories. It’s the kind of place where, in stories, ladies and lords encounter beautiful white unicorns and heroes lift a sword out of a stone. I wonder if thing like that have actually happened there but maybe it’s best not to know for certain and just imagine.

 It feels good to be there, laying on the grass and just hearing the wind caressing the greenery. Flowers are scarce but when you find one, it is sure to be one of the most beautiful botanical being your eyes have ever seen. So many colors and such beautiful designs. They make you realize how perfect nature is and how intricate life can be in order to create things that have apparently little to no value. That’s how simpleminded and stupid humans are, because we just do not understand.

 I’m not saying I do understand but, when I’m there, I do feel different than usual. Sometimes I feel my muscles are stronger than ever and some other times I feel it is my mind that has grown one full size, in intellectual terms. I have attributed this particular feeling to the fact that my friend is there, beneath the tree or maybe inside of it. I have a special connection with that place, that goes far beyond it’s location or the many ways the sun touches the leaves and the rain flows down the small hills. It’s just something that I will never be able to understand or explain.

 I never go to two of my favorite places at once but I do have another natural space where I like to relax my aching bones. It’s a prairie, many hours away by walking from the meadow. It’s on the outskirts of civilization and maybe that’s the reason why it feels so special. It might also be the fact that many great people died there a long time ago and the place became a graveyard, although not on purpose. There’s not a sign labeling it as such and there are not tombstones to read.

 You feel the presence of thousands of soul when you enter the prairie. That one, different from the meadow, is filled with flowers all over. As trees are scarce, flowers grow on the ground, big as the fists of a mighty warrior. The colors are unimaginable if one has never been there and the sound of many birds creates a wall of sound that no scream or weapon can pierce. It is very beautiful but it can also be a little bit too much, if the person doesn’t know how to handle it.

 I’ve gone there for many years, from a very young age. Family members were buried there for generations and I feel that my body will also lay beneath the many flowers of the prairie. It’s not a nice thought on my head, but it comforts me that, at the very least, my final resting place could be that beautiful place full of all many of the things that people in other places don’t really have anymore. Birds and flowers are considered wild nowadays and people don’t like that too much.

 There are no hills, no real elevations on that never-ending prairie. There’s just a road on one side and a road on the other. The rest is grass and flowers and birds’ songs. Nothing much besides that. I relax on the meadow but not on the prairie. The prairie makes me think too much sometimes, about my own mortality and about the many things I have yet to do in this life. It makes me feels I have little time, which is true, but I suddenly hear the clock ticking and it’s unbearable.

 When I go, I only stay for a couple of hours and then leave without a prayer or a word. I don’t talk to anyone there, even if a good part of my family’s bones has fed the flowers that live there. I don’t feel comfortable or happy there. But I don’t feel sad or persecuted. It’s just a very strange feeling of not being quite there somehow… I don’t understand it and I just go there when I feel I need to pay my respects, which happens when I take the road north in order to get home after several days of hard labor. I go because I have to, in a certain way, not because I want to.

 My final spot is not very far from home. I live in a beautiful mountain, which oversees the most amazing green valley you have ever seen. Only a small amount of farms break a beautiful natural landscape. The sound of the stream is the one that always tells me I’m only a few minutes away from seeing the faces of my family. When I pass the rushing waters, I can almost feel their skin on my hands, their perfume on my noise and their happy laughs on my ears. It really is home.

 When I’m there, I often take my family to the other side of the mountain. It’s a bit colder and rockier than the place we live in but somehow I really like it. It happens to be the border that separates our country, if one can call it that, from the rest of the world. Beyond the rocks, you can only see the tallest and greenest trees in existence. They make a kind of fabric that extends for several kilometers and then some more. Water can be heard but not seen and animals are the only ones populating it.

 There are no roads that cross it. No one really dares to go through the maze that is the forest. Some daring neighbors love to go there in the summer to pick up grapes, the wild kind, that grow on the outskirts. The yare very sweet and have a beautiful purple color and kind smell. However, wolves have been known to attack people that stay there for too long. It is not a place for humans to thrive. But it’s nice to look at all those leaves from above, while having a warm drink.

 I enjoy the view alone or with my family. We spread mother’s ashes there some three years ago and I still remember how the wind carried the dust the deepest parts of the forest. I stayed there, waiting for the cloud that was my mother to fall on top of the trees but the wind kept on carrying it away, farther and farther away from everything that woman had ever known. It made me think about her and about every single person I had ever met that was not in this world anymore.

 Those are my favorite places on this Earth. They are so different the one from the other but they do share the fact that I feel my people on them, I feel their hearts and minds and, certainly, they souls. They guide me still in this wretched world.


 I know I will become one of them someday. It might be today or tomorrow or in several years. But I know it will happen. In a very strange way, it calms me to know that they are going to be there, on the other side. And I will still be able to visit all my favorite spots.

viernes, 14 de julio de 2017

Encounters

   The creature had disappeared into the forest, never to be seen again. Its awful grimace was imprinted in their brains, a horrible smile that awoke their biggest fears and darkest nightmares. The only thing that it had told them was that the planet they were in was called something he couldn’t repeat in their language but that they could easily relate that word with something like “Somber”. So that was the dreary name of the tree filled planet they had appeared in, only a few days ago.

 The taller guy touched his chest, uncomfortable. He had failed to notice a small pain, for the last hours. They had been running and walking for so long, he had prioritize survival and had not really paid attention to himself or the news he had received fairly recently. It was kind of strange to see a man that had received news so devastating, just walking through a forest, thinking of what animal to catch next. The fact that he had a heart problem was the least of his issues.

 The smaller guy, on the other side, had been thinking about it all the way since they had appeared in the planet. He didn’t wanted to talk about it if his partner didn’t want to, and he had made it clear he didn’t want to talk about such an important matter, but it bothered him. The fact that something might happen and he would lose the only other person nearby was very difficult to accept. Besides, he felt something different from the times they were in the resistance and thinking about it didn’t help.

 Finally, they stopped walking when the sun set behind a snow-capped mountain. They had been following a path through a valley and now they were on the slopes of a big mountain. The good thing was the trees were shorter, so they could see more of the place they were in. The tall guy was the hunter that night, catching some kind of big bird, very similar to a turkey but with the capacity of flying. They ate it in silence and when the time came to sleep, they did it separately.

 They couldn’t really sleep though. Both of them felt they needed to talk to the other. But when one of them decided to open his mouth, an explosion could be heard across the valley. They stood up right away, grabbed their stuff and run up to the top of the mountain. It was very cold there but it was pretty nearby and it was the only way to get away from the explosion and, at the same time, knowing what exactly had happened. When they reached the top, the flames across the valley were easily visible. The wind seemed to be making it worse: the flames were as tall as trees.

 The two men looked at each other, but they didn’t know what to do. They could run away from the fire but something told them they should be right there to watch. After all, an explosion had ignited the fire and there was very little chance that it had occurred naturally. They stayed put and waited. The fire jumped from one tree to the other. Watching it was mesmerizing, as if the fire was alive somehow. It really looked alive, engulfing a tree and then consuming it in seconds.

 Then, the wind blew harder and it brought cold with it. The short guy caressed his arms, trying to stay warm. When they had disappeared from Earth, they had no clothes proper for such an environment. Only the taller guy had his backpack with him and, luckily, it had many of the weapons they had recently used to put up traps for the enemy. It had come in handy for hunting and igniting fires to roast the food. Then they both realized something about the flames consuming the forest.

 The short guy looked in the backpack and took out a pair of binoculars to check out the place the flames were consuming. Instantly, he grabbed the hand of his partner and look at him directly into his eyes. Slowly, he told him they had been eating breakfast there that same morning, on the other side of the valley. He said he recognized a tree so tall that it was a bit bent at the tip. The taller guy verified that himself and realized that couldn’t be a coincidence. Something else was wrong.

 They agreed to walk along the top of the mountain. That side of the valley had no snow but a very fast and chilly wind, as well as rocks that kept rolling down to the lower part of the valley. It was very tricky to walk, so they had to grab each other by the hand and try not to kill themselves while doing it. Sometimes they looked at each other, but they preferred not to do so because it made them think too much of home and those feelings and memories hurt more than any rock or cold wind.

 Suddenly, another explosion made them lost their balance. One of them had to grab the other harder by the hand. It was difficult to pull someone else up after walking so much but it was harder to think that they would be alone. As the flames seemed to be getting closer, they both regained flat land and ran as much as they could. None of them had no idea of why they were doing that but it seemed like the best thing to do was to get away fast. Eventually, they reached a cliff and they had to stop running. They started sweating even more when they stopped.

 The flames were close to them but now it seemed to be a single huge flame. The heat emanating from it was almost burning their skin but, for some reason, it stopped moving towards them, as if it had noticed that its heat was hurting them. The moment seemed to last forever. In their eyes, they could only see the red and orange flames, as if they were absolutely enthralled by fire. But, if they were to be honest, they had no intention of running anymore. They felt they had to be there.

 Suddenly, the flames seemed to be reducing their size. But as that happened, a creature emerged from the inside of the fire. It seemed to be very tall, taller than any human being anyone had ever seen. It was very difficult to know if it had any gender or what kind of creature it could be: aggressive or pacifist? Its skin seemed to be made of a material similar to rocks, the kind you find near a volcano. It was dark and seemed to be covered with as. Its eyes were red as fire.

 The creature got closer and just looker at them. It had a human form but maybe it was doing that to imitate them or to be less intimidating. If that was the case, it was failing miserably because the two humans it had in front of it were very scared. So scared actually, that they hadn’t stopped grabbing each other’s hand since the moment they had started running. They only realized this when the creature created a hand out of its own body and, with one dark finger, it pointed at their hands holding.

 They could have screamed or said something to the creature but they didn’t. The creature kept pointing at them, opening its eyes wider. Then, it pulled back, turned back into a gigantic flame and launched itself into the sky. From their point of view, it looked like a comet crossing the night sky. Eventually, it disappeared but it left a line in the sky and a certain sweet smell all around the forest. The place that had burned grew over night, as if nothing had ever happened.

 They woke up the next day, thinking about the creature they had just seen. At first, it seemed as if nothing had changed after they had encountered it. However, they started holding hands more and more, and they didn’t think about it for a second.


 Furthermore, they started talking more to each other as they walked across Somber, laughing some times and sharing their personal stories as they ate or cleaned themselves in rivers or lakes. Eventually, they fell in love. But that’s another story that I won’t tell right now.