With our condor-like view, Checho and I spent the next hour pointing out Zeta rapid, the stone hot tub, Lost Beach, the main stone shelter and turquoise Laguito Azul. Checho told me that more than anything else he wanted his children to be guides, especially his one-year old son Alfredo. He enjoyed living at the Casa Piedra farm during the summer months when the weather was good and the kids were out of school. Even with all the past hardships he loved the place passionately and understood fully the opportunity it had given his family. We stood up, and shook hands in one last congratulatory touch. The wind had picked up considerably and yet down below the trees were still.
"Mucho viento los Torres"
much wind on the tower, Checho said.
"Torre de los Vientos",
"Tower of the Winds", he said. Eric nodded.
As we headed down, my thoughts quickly switched to getting off the tower. With little choice, we grabbed some dead, twisted bent over limbs and tied them together with our shirts. Using Checho's belt, we lowered the makeshift ladder over the edge and climbed down the mass of intertwined branches to the middle ledge. We carefully lowered the original log to the ground and slid down.
The moment Checho touched the ground, he crossed his chest, dropped to his knees and kissed the ground. The sun had set and the temperature had fallen considerably, yet even without a shirt I didn’t feel the cold.
While we were walking back to Checho's house, my mind wandered to the the top of the tower. In a career that had taken me all over the world, the experience on top of that tower with Checho was one of the highlights. I couldn’t wait to be able to share the experience with our clients.
That evening we sat around the hot cook stove in Checho's tiny kitchen eating homemade bread with cheese and sipping mate. I was exhausted mentally and physically. Checho and I hadn't said a single word to each other since getting down from the tower. It had been a wild day. It must have been especially wild for Checho whose strange journey had really begun three years earlier.
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