Picnic at La Puerta.
Picnic at La Puerta.
Joaquín and Ana share their childhood memories, lying on the grass looking at the sky. Both have memories of a long walk along a river.
"Sometimes dad used to carry me, especially when we crossed the river from one bank to the other," says Ana. -Ana points out.
"I remember the path, after every step of the river there was a long, narrow, bare path that sometimes hid in the grass, and huge trees giving off the smell of fruit..." -
Ana interrupts him:
"I remember the promontories of immense stones lying between the bank and the riverbed...."
Both have established that the memory is about a journey to the same place where they once went with their respective families. They have had the idea of returning to it, they imagine themselves holding hands, walking between the large boulders that act as a bridge between the banks of the river.
They have not wanted to make the walk alone. They have had the idea of inviting their group of friends.
Joaquín and Ana are university students, their closest friends, they come from other parts of the country, they only know the way between their residences and the campus. At the university they have everything: cinema, theatre groups, student groups, choirs, sports clubs, reading circles, canteens and, above all, a beautiful view of the open coast.
Everyone agrees to Ana and Joaquín's plan. They will love to get out of the city and breathe the country air.
Joaquín explains that they have to bring everything, spare clothes, swimming costumes, food and drinks. It's an adventure of about ten hours including picnic and breaks.
"It's necessary to leave early. When we arrive in Miraflores we will walk for about three hours along the river. We have to cross it seven times, after fifteen minutes from the last crossing we will see La Puerta de Miraflores."
"La Puerta de Miraflores?" some friends ask in chorus.
"That's the name of the place!" replies Ana.
People in love don't want to give more details. Sometimes too much information breaks the charm.
The group of ten university students has arrived in the village, and as they get off the bus, the windows of the simple houses open.
Adults stare at them, sizing them up. Teenagers gather around to comment mischievously on the beauty of the young visitors.
Look how handsome they are! sigh the teenage girls, muttering to each other.
How beautiful! The boys rub shoulders with each other.
The group of friends wave to each other, waving their hands.
"Which way is it to La Puerta?" -asks Ana.
"Grab that little wooden bridge and follow the river, go without fear that the stones in the river will take you there," Shouts a man of the colour of the earth, dressed in khaki.
Already the youngsters have crossed seven times. Some have fallen into the water, skidding on the slippery stones, the rucksacks on their backs dripping off, leaving a trail of water along the paths. They have all laughed out loud with each new fall of their companions and have passed the fear of their own slip, also laughing.
They are only a few minutes away from reaching La Puerta. Joaquín and Ana seem the most astonished, comparing their memories with each other.
The huge stones no longer seem so colossal to them, nor the animals of the countryside so large. Now they can admire the shades of green, the friendliness of the people who come to greet them and the great variety of wild flowers.
At a crossroads an unsuspected volume appears on the horizon. An immense wall that resembles an intentional cut in the great mountain.
The sight of the wall has taken away the fatigue of the road.
-We are arriving," say Ana and Joaquín in chorus.
Ana looks at Joaquín because it seems to her that he has spoken in the same way about her father, in her memory.
Joaquín looks at her in response and hugs her. They walk that stretch in each other's arms.
Step by step, the splendid wall seems to be reflected in front of them. It is no longer one. It is two identical walls facing each other, as in a game of mirrors. The murmur of a waterfall forces them to look to the right. In the place of the shallow and tame river, a waterfall has appeared, trickling between huge stones.
Joaquín remembers that they have to reach the slab in the middle of the waterfall. It is a huge flattened stone. There can be a distance of two metres between it and the water.
"I'm afraid to go up there," says someone.
"It looks risky." Others agree.
"If you don't go up there you won't see the Gate. I went up there as a child." Says Joaquín.
"All this is already too beautiful!" Procrastinates another.
Little by little the most daring, Ana and Joaquín in front, climbed up.
They look straight ahead between the two walls and remain silent.
The fearful ones encourage each other and slowly climb up.
When the last one is on the slab and has lived his experience of silence, a group hug begins spontaneously, a hug in line, like actors do in the theatre.
"This is so amazing!" Someone breaks the silence.
A few tears roll down, unashamedly, and spread the moment of gratitude.
In front of them, the two walls open the way to an impetuous river that rushes from the distance, down the different heights of mounds, among the olive green of an unthinkable jungle.
This is La Puerta, an ancient opening in the mountain, which was, millennia and millennia ago, the channel of a mighty river. Now, however impetuous it looked, it was diminished to almost nothing, leaving in sight the immense walls and between them, in the empty space, La Puerta, crowned with creepers.
After contemplating for a long time, someone came up with the idea of eating on that slab.
When the backpacks were opened, all the food appeared soaked. They laughed again. Wet or not, they had some sausages, cooked vegetables and fruit, a few cans of orange juice and a quart of rum to take the chill off.
At the end of their picnic, they rested, chatting, for a while before diving into the pools at their feet.
Their laughter and banter could be heard. From time to time, too, the expression of wonder at the beauty and history of millennia that enveloped them.
Thank you for reading