Monday, May 5, 2014

Cousin Rey – The Mountain Climber

   My father was stationed for a couple of years in Subic Bay, Olongapo City, Zambales.  It was 1959 when my cousin Rey spent his summer vacation with us.   He was 15 and I was 7.  

   The street where we lived was a dead end.   A mountain stood at the end of it, steep and green like a mysterious giant.   At a time when there was no television or video games to keep the children home, cousin Rey was intrigued by the mountain.  There was none of it in Pasay City where he came from.   He wanted to climb it but he has never climbed a mountain before.   He wasn't sure he wanted to do it alone. Since he was new in the neighborhood he had no one to take with him except me, little me and a girl at that.  He would be in trouble with my parents if we fell off or some wildlife bit us.  It was a big responsibility for a boy of 15 but it was an adventure of a lifetime.  

   I wanted to climb with him.  I didn't give the mountain a thought till cousin Rey told me he planned on climbing.  Like any 7 year old I had no doubt we could do it and that it would be safe and easy.  I convinced cousin Rey, fed his curiosity.  

   Cousin Rey was encouraged.  We planned on it.  Mountain climbing would take some hours so we scheduled it for when my parents would be busy and not miss us.  We didn’t need gears like real mountain climbers.  Jeans and slippers were fine.  

   When we got to the foot of the mountain there was no pathway, no stairway of any sort just dirt with vegetation going up from the ground where we stood.  Cousin Rey started to survey for a first step up which led to the next.  He held on to trees to keep our footing with his right hand and gripped my hand with his left.  There were some spots where my feet did not cooperate.  On those spots Cousin Rey lifted me up to the next level.  

   When we got to the top I could feel my 15 year old cousin Rey felt like a full grown man.  Mainly because I felt like a full grown woman at 7.  We savored the view from the top.  We could see all the way to the edge of Olongapo where the ocean starts.  

   Coming down the mountain was more difficult than we thought.  Gravity pulled us down before each step could set on the ground.  We encountered a wild dog and I was terrified but cousin Rey was used to dealing with dogs.  His family always had one.  We got some scrapes and bumps but those were our trophies.  

   It was an unforgettable moment.  Not only because of the bragging value of the exercise but we grew a bond few relatives got the chance to share.  That bond would last a lifetime and extend to our children.  Cousin Rey and I agreed to keep our mountain climbing a secret to save us from spanking by our parents.  This is the first time I am telling this story.  To this day our parents, three of whom have died never heard of it.

See also:
Remembering Cousin Rey 

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