Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lost In El Yunque

**Writing Update: before I begin the rest of the post, let me update you on my editing process. I just received my first email from my editor since she's read my entire manuscript and this is what I can report: I think she liked it.

I know, it's vague, but as one of those self-doubting writers who understands all too well the ambiguity of language, I keep reading into her email in ways that makes my husband want to ring my neck.

What she really says is that my main character has a strong and unique voice, and that I keep it consistent through the entire book. Yay!

Also, I managed to accomplish first person, present tense. I think she thinks I did that well.

And lastly, she wanted to know if I worked in medicine because the book seemed that authentic.
Yeah. I told her I'm not a doctor, but I play one in my novels. :)

So on to real life.

This week our family went on an adventure of sorts. We went hiking in the rainforest. For my kids, it was a first. They'd seen postcards with this huge waterfall you could swim in the bottom of, and they wanted to do that.

In typical fashion, we managed to get just enough information to make us think we could conquer this small feat, and yet not enough to actually do it gracefully (and with ease).

We headed into the mountains in the morning, wearing bathing suits and carrying beach towels, and driving as far as we could. Hey - it's 9 km up the mountain to get to the trail.... we weren't going to walk all of that!!

So up we went. We were told, "Just drive as far as you can, then park the car at the end of the road and hike the rest. The waterfall is at the top."

So we drove. and drove. Until this is what we could see:

Then we parked, and started hiking in.

To hike is an understatement. The path is more than 2 miles long, (I know I just switched from km to miles... my brain just works that way). It rises in an approximate 30 degree incline. For those readers mathematically challenged, that's REALLY steep!!

It was about eighty-five degrees. With about 250 percent humidity. (I may be off a little on that last number, but by the sweat pouring down all of us, probably not by much!).

This is part of the path. It looks remarkably flat. I don't remember any of it being this flat...

There were really cool trees along the way. I loved this one. It's roots are totally out of the ground, holding it up like magic! And that moss??? Awesome!

We kept looking for water, but there wasn't any. Not a drop. I realized a good way in, this is not a good sign. Waterfalls don't come from nowhere.

But we continued to trudge. Until we made it to the top of El Yunque. Here we are acting all triumphant and everything.

We are really trying not to dissolve in a puddle of very, very exhausted sweat.

There was an incredible view from here. It looked like this:

It was then we realized there was no waterfall here. Views, yes. Waterfalls with refreshing water to swim in, no.

Back down we went. Ninety minutes later we were back at the car, determined to find the one true trail that leads to refreshment.

We found another trail. Headed down it.

Water. This is a good sign. Not a big falls, mind you, but something.

The trail got steeper. More slippery. Louder. And the people going the opposite direction looked distinctly wet. And not from sweat. They carried towels. They wore swim suits. This was a very good sign, we thought.

Finally, we rounded the curve and there it was....

This photo can't possibly do justice. Sweet relief!!

We tore off our sandals, peeled off our sticky clothes. And jumped in.

Into the glacier-like water.

Where we nearly froze to death.


(and if you though I would post a photo of me in a bathing suit swimming beneath the falls, God bless your optimism!!)


  1. "I worked in medicine because the book seemed that authentic." That is awesome. You can have no better compliment than that.

    Those rainforest photos were awesome. Also, I love the pose your son was doing in the one photo. There are probably thousands of me doing the same pose at that age. :)

  2. I'm glad I got to live the rainforest vicariously through you (sticky sweat and glacial water and inclines and all)! The pics are spectacular, thanks for sharing. And your editorial letter sounds great, try not to read too much into it. They liked it, they really liked it!!! :)

  3. That was fun to read. I'm glad to know you founf the waterfall. I was getting worried. Your kids sound like troopers. I read a great post once on Aprilynne Pike's blog about editorial letters. She said that her editor would always start the letter out nicely to reassure her that she did in fact like the book because the rest of the letter would be edits. Your editor wouldn't be your editor if she didn't like it, right?

  4. I think it's a woman's natural instinct to read into everything. I told my boys that girls will read into everything they say to them so pick your words carefully.

    On the plus side it sounds like your editor likes your book or else they wouldn't be publishing it.

    Great photos and story. I had a similar experience this weekend, but with no waterfall.

  5. She liked it! And yes, great compliments from your editor. Your editor - I love saying that!

    Great pics, as always. And cool hike!

  6. paul - that is so funny! My son loves that pose, too!

    Kim - I know I shouldn't read between the lines and just admit that everything she said was really positive. I kept waiting for the "I love this!!"

    Jessie - that's one amazing editor! What a great understanding she has of us self-doubting writers! Obviously, the point of the editorial letters are to give us somethings to improve... but it's still nice to hear it's not all bad!

    Patti - great advice! I think I'll start teaching my son the same thing! And I should have known you'd be out hiking too!

    Brit - you're so good for me!

  7. My friends and I had a harrowing experience in El Yunque as well! Glad you made it out :)

    1. That place is crazy, right? I read yours and now I'm not sure if it's better to hike it in the rain or hike it in the intense humidity. I suspect we were equally wet by the end. :)