Sunday, June 24, 2007

Part 3, LOST (actually stranded) the Everglades

So……did I say “get out of hell”? HA! Not too awful long after we left Mud Bay from being stuck, it had started to get light out. My first thought when I saw the sun was, “Oh my God, we’re going to burn to death and it’s going to get soooo hot.” Well, since it was still early in the morning, it was really not all that hot and the sun was not directly above us, so it was very bearable and actually quite nice. But it was basically mid-day now as we were setting out to leave Grocery Place, so the sun was set nicely almost directly above us. Joy!

Like I said before, the raft was incredibly hot, but we all had to just suck it up and take it. The kids didn’t really seem that bothered by it, but then again, nobody really complained about it out loud so maybe they didn’t realize they could, who knows??? So anyway we shoved off and started leaving hell behind. But it was pretty apparent after just a few minutes that hell was all around us anyway, in the form of a shiny yellow ball high in the sky. You’ve never felt hot or even helplessness until you’ve been stuck in a raft in the middle of a river with absolutely nowhere to go and nothing to shade yourself with or cool yourself off with—with three kids, who just don’t understand the situation. It was bad enough being stuffed in the raft overnight with them and trying to keep covered from the mosquitoes, but now we were broiling in the sun with no way to cover ourselves (it would have been too hot to put the tarp we used for the mosquitoes over us). Emma was squished between me and mom, and Layla was tired and cranky, and Mary Ruth was the only one of us who could move around at all, she sat on top of all our gear. But poor Emma and Layla were cranky and squished and HOT. Beads of sweat poured down all our faces for hours.

Thankfully not too long after we set out, there were a few guys in a motorboat fishing. I thought, “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if they could tow us back to the van?” And it was right after that that Troy asked, “jokingly,” “Hey, could you guys give us a tow?” At first they thought we were really joking and took it as just that, a joke, and laughed a little bit. But then we started to paddle by them, and they got a really good look at us and saw the kids, and so one of the guys asked, “Do you guys really need a tow?” I was so overjoyed, because when they took it as a joke and laughed, I could have cried. I felt like screaming at them, “Hello!! Do you see us squished here and these kids bathed in sweat?? Do you feel how hot it is?? HELLO!!!!!!!” But I did keep my mouth shut even though inside I was boiling, but I was so happy that they saw that we really did need help.

So they towed us all the way back to where we had gotten stuck before, except the tide was in so there was enough water to get through. But we were all ever so grateful that they had towed us that far. It saved Troy and Jed a lot of work, and cut a lot of time off our trip back to the van. So then we started paddling again. Oh it was so hot. Layla was so unhappy. She was writhing and thrashing around, and I felt so utterly helpless because I couldn’t do anything for her. She finally fell asleep for some of the time, and I tried to cover her with a towel we had unearthed from all our gear. She sweated very badly under it, but at least she wouldn’t burn.

Emma also fell asleep after a while, and I looked at her poor little face and it was all swollen up from all the mosquito bites. And Mary Ruth was just as happy as she could be sitting on top of all the stuff. She was hot, I’m sure, but she never really did complain or cry that much, thank God. But she did have soooo many mosquito bites all over her entire body, and as much as I wanted to feel sorry for her, part of me did not because she would not stay under the cover. But anyway…so we’re sitting there. And sitting there. And sitting there some more, the sun beating down on us constantly with absolutely no relief, no break—just NONE whatsoever at any time for several hours. It was absolute torture. And I had not drank anything since before we got stuck in Mud Bay because I did not want to have to pee. So I was dehydrated and getting more and more dehydrated as we went along. My and mom’s legs were exposed to the sun—I mean, everything else was too, but usually your legs aren’t, so they are more sensitive than anything else. I mean, we were just sitting there, not moving around in the boat, with the sun literally baking us.

I don’t think I can possibly describe how it felt. There was just no reprieve. Just imagine the worst, and that’s about what it was. So anyway, other than it being incredibly and unbelievably hot, the rest of the way back to the van was pretty uneventful, thank God. We were ever so happy to see the van. It took us a long time to get everything packed up, and just like when were packing up the boats to go to the camp site, it was thunder storming, but it wasn’t as bad as before—just ironic. Well, right after we got back, we all went and used the bathroom at their bath house. I tried so hard to carry Layla over, but I was obviously very dehydrated and I couldn’t walk or see straight, and I felt kind of delusional. So mom took Layla from my hands, I went to the bathroom, and then had something to drink. And drink. And drink. Then I began to feel better.

The kids played on the little playground for a while and I watched them while everybody else put stuff away. Then finally we had everything put away and we went and took a shower, which felt ever so wonderful. And then we were out of there, on our way to the next place. Yes, we were finally out of hell. So by this point, all our original plans we had had gone down the drain, and our experience thus far had not been all that great. But from here on out things were going to get better. To be continued…

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