Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Bat in Alonso's Sheep Afro

Last November I took my 3 brothers Ricky, Andres and Alonso to the Barrett Flume off Highway 94, an aquaduct used to get water through through hills in Dulzura. The flume looks like a waterslide hanging off the edge of the hillside a hundred feet in the air on top of a train trestle. The flume also covered sections of tunnel where you can crawl around and supposedly it’s a herpetologist’s dream because all sorts of snakes fall in all the time and then they can’t get out.
The four of us began our hike by scrambling into one of these tunnels. Immediately it reminded us all of Temple of Doom and we were repeating and laughing "Docta Jones, it feels like I step on fortune cookies" in four different and equally horrible Chinese accents, but the joking ended quick. I had the 3 of them leading the way in the front with a lantern and soon they were moving dead slow through the darkness, stopping, calling back to me and asking over and over "What’s down there, did you see that, how far does this go on?"
The tunnels are around 3 feet tall and covered with cobwebs and shed snake skins, all of us are huge and we barely fit. My brothers were creeped out by all the spiders in their face but they stayed calm enough because they loved the little wild country mice with their funny staring faces and heads as big as their bodies hiding in cracks and watching us giants mosey down their cave. Finally coming out of that first tunnel I show them how short a distance we actually covered and they can’t believe how long it seemed being so afraid and blind in the dark.
We crawl through a couple more tunnels then cross the flume. My brothers feel like their crossing some death rope bridge, they wonder "Will it hold our weight?" and I tell them how my friend Kevin and I climbed down the trestle one time all the way to the bottom and they make me explain to them exactly how, exactly where I put my feet and where I held on and they tried to put together the action movie sequence in their mind.
Coming off the flume we scramble up a small dry waterfall and then a slide full of boulders. We find a bee hive and some dragonflies and we chase a tiny frog the size of a dime and try to catch it but lose him in some cracks. I work on teaching them some counter-balance climbing techniques and simple route finding through the steeper rocks.
On the way back to the car we go through another tunnel and at the very end of it we see a small brown bat hanging upside down from the low cieling of the tunnel. We wont get out without crawling on all fours and scraping by the bat within an inch of our faces. So we try yelling at him and throwing things next to him trying to scare him off without hurting him. My brothers ask "What do we do?" and I leave it up to them, I tell them I'll do whatever they want to do and I reassure them that first off the bat probably wont bite and even if he does, and if, if he has rabies, then we can still get to the hospital with plenty of time and the only thing that will suck is the needle in the stomach. I assure them that there is no risk of them being seriously hurt, only of having to go through a bunch of pain and time at the hospital.
Alonso takes the lead and makes me so proud he says "We've come this far, its only a bat, lets just go for it, lets go!" So we count to 3 and I plow the way in the front and we all give our war yells, "No turning back!" and we come out of the tunnel still yelling and looking for the bat, its in the middle of us doing loops and then he flies back to the safety of his tunnel. Alonso is still yelling and swatting himself after everybody is done and he explains how the bat had got caught in the hair of his sheep afro. "Did you see that?! I was all like AH, and then it was all like eeeeeeeeee, and the I came out and....OHMYGAWD!"
It was a good adventure, we got to dance with a bat, and we came out