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La Nariz

“TOUR IN THE INDIAN NOSE” says the unappetizing sign in the center of the tourist district.  I instead took a tour to the Indian Nose, or Nariz d’el Indio, so known because the hill resembles the regal profile of either a Mayan or Incan man.  You can get an idea of it from this photo, although it was somewhat cloudy when I took it.

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I got up at 3 AM this morning, had coffee and an avocado with lime and then went downstairs to meet Samuel, our guide.  We then walked from the base of the building where I took the above photo, up and over the hill where the communications towers are to the neighboring town of San Juan.  We walked through San Juan to the base of the Nariz.  From there it was ridiculously steep.  About a third of the way up, I decided I wasn’t going to make it.  I was panting and wheezing, and knew that I was just slowing everyone else down, so Samuel found me a comfortable rock to sit on and they took off.  It was probably 4:30 at that point.  I sat and watched the sky brighten and listened to the birds come alive around me, as well as to the tiny landslides created by critters stirring above me.  A squirrel climbed up the bank onto a tree directly in front of me, eyed me curiously, and then continued upwards.  I think I took this photo a little after 5, long before the actual sunrise, but the colors were nice.

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At exactly 5:14, I heard a low rumbling sound and felt a vibration in the ground at my feet.  The sun rose at about 5:45, and I decided to head on up the hill.  It was even steeper than before.  A few minutes later, Samuel met me on his way down.  Since I wasn’t clear on the route and was determined to make it to the top, he turned around again and joined me.  On one of my many stops to catch my breath, I asked him about what I thought had been an earthquake earlier.  He told me it was the sea calling out for rain.  I didn’t argue much.  Eventually I made my painful way to the top, although I did not go the extra bit to the viewpoints on the profile of the Indio.  We went directly to Santa Clara, which is the town nearby, and caught a pickup back down the terrifying road to the lake.  I was jammed into the back of the pickup, standing with a dozen local folks.  Samuel was hanging off the back.  I had my camera bag dangling over the railing to make room for everyone else.  All I could think of as we canted around the hairpin turns was the horrible condition of all the tires I have seen here.  One blowout at the wrong time and we would have gone tumbling down.  We finally made it down to San Pablo and took a tuk-tuk from there to San Pedro, where I had a cup of coffee and looked on the internet to find that at exactly 5:14 there had been a 4.4 magnitude quake in Casillas near the coast.

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