I walked through the cobblestone streets. The mountain tops surround me. There is no flat. There are only steep inclines and vertical drops. They are impressive. Some of them are green and wild, others are white and stark. The shapes they made with the sky were intriguing.
We had admired the majestic mountains from afar. They were distant. They seemed unreal. Magical. Powerful. Supple. Curvaceous. A woman meant for changing the standards of beauty. She was, then, only an acquaintance, but she would soon become a friend. A friend whom I both hate and love.
The dark green trees crowded us as we walked down. The trails part dirt, part stone. I loved down. Less fatigue. Less intensity. Down for 45 minutes. Straight down. I hated down. All I wanted was up. My knees screamed. My brain kept asking “why?”
We crossed a peaceful river. Straight. Straight. Straight up. Up. Even farther up. I kept praying for down. I kept wondering why I was the only one tired. I wanted to cry. Tears filled my eyes threatening to expose my weakness.
People. Villages in the steep inclines and vertical drops of her rounded body. The children come running. They ask. They plead for money or sweets. It is obvious that they only see us as givers. They learn young. Even infants outstretch their hands towards me. Their eyes asking instead of their voices that still speak the language of God.
A man. Unsmiling. Limbs that were uncovered were dark. They made visible his time in the sun. His bicycle was with him. Children and young women, all wearing different, vibrant colors surrounded him. They contrasted with the man. He was plain. He was sad. He sold ice cream. He created smiles. The villagers watched as we approached. We bought our ice cream under the great stare of the inhabitants. They were intrigued or wanted. As we left and attempted to say “thank you” The women smiled at the nonsense that slipped through our lips. The intensity lightened and we made our leave.
We eventually left our new beautiful friend who I both loved and hated. I watched her as she got farther and farther away.
We sat down for breakfast on the cobble stone street. Two children ran in circles around the wooden table next to ours. Their feet shoeless. They were happy. They were loud. The older children made their way to school across the busy street in their blue uniforms. Class didn’t start until 10. Four men carried the body of a young woman. A golden blanket covered her body. Her dark, young hair swung below the stretcher the body was being carried on. The men were serious, but not crying. The older children in blue uniforms did not notice or did not care. The children next to us continued laughing and running.
The beautiful woman I had come to know so well, with her curves and her elegance and her intensity, both gives life and steals it away.