Wednesday

Belize Survivor, part 71

"I’ve got a cave story for you," Maggie said, "You’ll like this one.”

Alexis picked up Jordan and moved to the hammock where she stretched out and got comfortable. Baring her breast so he could nurse, she settled back to listen.

“Tim and I arrived here in the valley before Eric and Sheila, and Joel and Kirsten. It was dry season then, and the water was low. We thought it would be fun to build a house on twenty-foot stilts on the west bank, up against the cliffs, rather than out on the flat – almost like a tree house. But six weeks after completion, the rains broke unexpectedly, and then one night in early June it rained like hell for hours, big fat raindrops – like bullets. The noise of the roaring river woke us. It was directly beneath us."

"It was nerve-racking," emphasized Tim, "and terrifying, especially when I looked out with a flashlight and saw the white turbulent water halfway up the stilts. The force of it was pushing at the whole structure."

"We knew there wasn't much time,” Maggie continued. “Twenty minutes later the river was only about thirty-six inches below the floorboards. We knew the whole house was going to collapse; we could feel it swaying," said Maggie. "It was time to bail out."

"Bail out where? How on earth did you get to safety?” Max demanded.

"We pried a long board off the veranda and crossed the gap between the house and the cliff. Then we literally `walked the plank' on our hands and knees and escaped up the side of the mountain. Five minutes later, the whole house was swept away. We spent the night in a cave. Hey – it came down to survival,” Maggie laughed.

“Anyway, when the water receded there was nothing left. Luckily, all these guys,” she gestured, “had arrived by then, and that’s how we all ended up living together, or at least until we have our own places finished. But you’ve probably been here long enough to have heard some ‘dumb gringo’ stories, right? Because if you haven’t, you’ve just heard your first!”