One of the activities I engage in everyday when possible is a walk along the Tomebamba River near my home in Cuenca, Ecuador. During this walking meditation my mind wonders along with that of the river. I love the sound of water. When the river is high, it blocks out the sounds of the city and my mind transcends to other worlds while my feet remain firmly in contact with the cobblestoned path. This path for a little while becomes a Yellow Brick Road into my own thoughts and life.
The Raging Waters
The river is high today from the many recent rains. Not a good day for river rafting or kayaking. The real dangers are hidden beneath the white surf of the waves. The rocks are invisible from the surface covered by the river but are still there, lurking.
This was the way the river was in Mexico when Kathleen died. It had rained the night before and the river was rough. The owner of the service did not want to refund the tickets for a cancelled trip so he convinced his river guides and the guests to do the trip despite its dangers and to go overland for a particularly difficult section of the river. The river gods were not kind that day. Before they reached the section to begin the overland, raft #1, the one Kathleen was in flipped. Raft #2 was down river of raft #1 so the guide tied his raft to shore to catch guests coming toward him. As he assisted getting the guests back into raft #1, Kathleen included, raft #2 which was still tied to land flipped. The guide from raft #2 untied his boat and went after the guests going down the river. By this time both boats were in the dangerous part of the water. The part the owner of the company told them to do over land, but they still had guests in the river and could not dock the rafts. By the time they reached the middle of the dangerous section, all guests had been recovered. Then in the raging waters raft #1 flipped again.
They were able to save all but Kathleen. They recognized her by her helmet going with the current. The rafts were finally able to dock a mile or so down river and one of the guides went for help. The guests including Kathleen’s daughter and grand daughter were standing safely on shore as Kathleen’s body floated passed them in the river. Three miles down river, they recovered her battered remains.
The assumption is she was pulled under by the current and was stuck in the rocks as the rafts passed her overhead. A helmet and life vest did not protect her. She died because someone’s greed superseded the importance of someone’s life. Those rafts should never had been in the water that day just as no raft should be in the Tomebamba today.
Random thoughts while I walk to The Roll of the Tomebamba. Death is an integral part of life. This piece, however, is about love and remembrance. The Tomebamba is a healing river. As good as any grief counselor I know.