At that time I was 16 years
old. I invited her that afternoon with the excuse of having some ice cream,
but she knew my real intentions were to declare my love, and I knew she knew.
I let the two dips of ice cream, lemon and vanilla, melted to water, I could
not manage my nerves, I was afraid to choke because I thought that in those
circumstances I would not be able to do two things at once: have an ice cream
and declare my love.
Then, in the 70's (I don't
know how it would be right now, remember I have 45 tacos on my back), it was
usual that after the love declaration, the girlfriend would obligatory say:
"OK, let me think about it" and the she would spend days, weeks, or worst,
months in that exercise of thinking, and only then after that time the
desperate boy who had made the declaration would listen the YES, for his
happiness or the NO, for his disgrace.
For good or bad (and with
time I've learned it was for bad) it has not been the best virtue in my life
to wait, and to understand better we will call it PATIENCE. Well, going back
to my declaration, immediately after my love verses to the lady in question,
as it was in the script of our youth in the 70s, she said: "OK, I have to
think". To that, I jumped with delicacy but with feline audacity, using the
speech that that was inadmissible in a woman as smart as her, because she knew
well what was my objective that afternoon, so there was no surprise in my
proposal of love; also, I remember telling her that I thought an excess of
cruelty for any human being to make him wait for so many days, in uncertainty,
to then say NO. If that was the fatidic answer. On the other side, it was a
waste of time to let days or weeks pass to then begin to have the gifts and
colors of love, if she could say YES in that very moment the honey of love
could begin spilling from the hearts of the two lovers.
I don't know if my speech was
powerful or if those honeys of love could not wait any longer, because I
achieved a YES in that moment, putting aside the famous let-me-think, and I
got rid of that time when I had to WAIT.
Years went by, a time when
sometimes I had to pay because of my scarce virtue of not knowing how to wait,
of not having PATIENCE.
I was married, my ex-wife was
pregnant and we were expecting a baby. We lived in Quito but because of fate
we had to go to Ambato (120 Km to the south of Quito) to do some errand that
would not take us more than two days. And of course, Murphy's Law is always
present when you least expect it: labor began in Ambato. Desperate, I called
the gynecologist in Quito, to ask what should we do and the first question
that came to my mind was: Can you come? He answered with another question:
Can Lorena wait? In the middle of my logical anguish, as a first time father,
I had not lost my sense of humor and I said: It is not her who doesn't want to
wait, it's him. And that same night at 11 thirty, in Ambato of course, my son
Andrés (Andy for friends) was born, with another gynecologist, another
anesthesiologist and other nurses. He didn't want to wait either.
Midnight, Sunday, March 27,
I prepare the last details
for my expedition to Dhaulagiri before going to Madrid; I come to the point of
the number of books I have to take to Base Camp to read while I WAIT. I chose
six narratives and two for reflection. Holding four in each hand I evaluate
what I have to do then and I think: Two eight-thousands in a month and a half,
it is a lot of activity and work. Waiting time? Why,
there is no time? If I have to get to Dhaulagiri, acclimatize, install camps,
climb to the summit of GOD permits and then zas!... flying, literally (by
chopper), to Base Camp in Annapurna to attempt the summit.
With this plan, waiting time:
Out of the six books of
narrative I leave half and keep three, plus the reflection ones.
Gee, what pretension of mine,
or better said, with the proper word: what arrogance. I stupidly thought that
with ten eight-thousands had a sealed passport for good weather and optimal
conditions on the mountain. And today, here I am in my tent, 9 days waiting
for the weather and snow conditions to improve (maybe we have to wait 5 more
days before making another attempt to the summit). Of course, I swallowed the
three books I brought time ago, and luckily Benedetti is still there and the
other one by Osho that I read little by little and I stay chewing the poems or
Today I have to wait, wait
with patience and humbleness, watching every day how hours go by slowly and
sometimes, I can't deny it, invaded by anguish of not knowing if finally some
day it will stop snowing and there would be a lot of Sun for the snow to get
better and also, if at some moment the wind would get tired of roaring above
What a great lesson I have
lived on this beautiful mountain. Remember we almost got to the summit, if it
wasn't for the mistake of the Koreans..., and now I am in Base Camp, I am
personally asking GOD and the gods of Dhaulagiri to be kind enough to give us
an opportunity to make a new attempt. The schedule in those days of waiting
is more or less the same.
At 7 and a half in the
morning, I wake up with all the drops of dew that suicide on my face.
7h30 - 8h30: Inside my tent,
I make stretching and relaxation exercises.
8h30 - 9h30: I read an
stupendous book that luckily has been given to me by Iñaki: "The worst trip of
the world", by Cherry Garrard, that tells about Scott's trip to the South
Pole, 650 pages, luckily.
9h30 - 10h30: Breakfast and
chat with the teammates of the expedition.
10h30 - 11h: I organize my
11h - 12h: I go out to walk
over the slopes close to the glacier of Base Camp. I do more exercise and
more stretching (because with so much waiting I am going to rust)
13h - 14h: Lunch, chat by
the table. During the afternoon it starts to snow and then I run to my tent
to read, write and/or listen to music.
19h - 21h: Dinner and chat.
21h - 22h: I read in my tent
and then I go to sleep.
That is my life now in Base
A great lesson about the
value of patience and waiting. It is well known that each lesson normally
comes when one needs it the most; I thank Dhaulagiri because I was forgetting
about the humbleness one has to have to know how to wait.
That impatience of mine when
I was 16, even if love is put as an excuse, was simple arrogance from my part.
That impatience from my son Andres to be born right away is well justified,
because it was impatience for life and for light, which is marvelous. And now
me, when I packed just three books for this expedition, I was not being
optimist. No. Forget it! I had forgotten that to
enter in the kingdom of these great mountains you need patience and
From Dhaulagiri's Base Camp
with my love.
IVAN VALLEJO RICAURTE
Translated from Spanish by