When I wake up in the morning, I get up from my bed and go to the window of the hotel room, I open it wide and extend the curtains to the sides, it is wonderful the landscape offered by this beautiful state, a mountain range and the cold breeze that enters the sale hitting my face and bare chest, it is sensational that from that fifth floor you can see part of the highest and longest cable car in the world.
I turn around and grab the remote control of the TV, turn it on to watch the news, giving time to warm up the body a little, since I would not want to go in so early to bathe, but it is something I must do, is a custom that I have for many years.
I am here in the state of Merida for work reasons, the institution is paying me and another co-worker the hotel stay and all food expenses. The Ministry of Environment in Caracas sent us to Mérida to carry out an inspection in the remodeling of the cable car, while we were getting ready, they call us by telephone to tell us that the freight car is going to take us up to the "Pico Espejo" at 10:00am, so that we could begin to evaluate the construction of that station (which is the last one).
We went down to the restaurant of the hotel to have breakfast, I didn't like the food of that place very much, it was very insipid, without much flavor, but the "Chino" liked to have breakfast in that restaurant because there was a very nice waitress that he liked very much. After breakfast, we walked to the cable car to start our journey.
When we arrived at the first station of the cable car we were greeted by a staff, who would accompany us along the way and explain any doubts we had at the time.
The terror took hold of me, when I listen.
- Here comes the wagon.
I imagined that we would climb in a normal car, but no, we were going to climb in a car that only had the platform and a steel guaya around, before climbing we put some harness to hook it to the steel guaya.
Every time we went up a meter, I felt more like shouting and getting down from there, it was an experience of terror, what the workers of the cable car called "car" was only the elevator of panic, it moved from side to side with more and more force, the cold that it was doing was already something unbearable.
At last we arrived at the "Mirror Peak", everything was normal, we immediately made a checklist and we could realize that they were within the established parameter, we only made two or three observations nothing else.
One of the cable car workers comes up to us and tells us that they have just received a piece of news on the radio.
- Sorry engineer, we have just received a news by radio, we have just been notified that some hikers were lost in this area and a strong blizzard is approaching, we must go out to look for them, since we are the rescue team that is closer to the place. We ask you to please wait here, soon you should be climbing the freight car with a rescue team, oxygen and medicine for the hikers.
That news was the worst I could receive at that time, it was already 3:00pm and the cold became more and more intense.
We had no choice but to wait for the other group of rescuers to come up, so that we could go down to the first station.
- Chinese: And now that we are going to do Arquimedes, we already have more than an hour here and still nothing that the wagon arrives with the new group of rescuers. - Me: We're going to keep waiting, what else can we do?
After two more hours, the wagon was still not boarding with the rescuers and the cable car workers who had gone ahead in search of the hikers were not returning either. The cold at that time, 6:00pm, became unbearable, I felt a strong headache, it was difficult for me to breathe, nausea and dizziness did not leave me alone.
- Me: We're going to have to walk back, it's like three hours of walking, but I think it's better to start walking and not wait here quietly until we can die of cold and lack of oxygen. - Chinese: I also think that's the best, I can't stand the urge to vomit and the headache, the cold is killing me.
We started walking immediately, very scared because we didn't know the way, but we followed a path that has been formed by the passage of hikers in time. We were walking as fast as possible, but the night came to us very quickly, the path was almost invisible, we had to help us with the light of our phones and the reflection of the moon.
We already had more than two hours walking, going up and down mountains, without drinking any water, without having had lunch, but in us there was a clear objective that gave us strength and motivation to keep going, which was to reach the lights of the city that we could see in the distance.
At 9:30pm we were able to reach the first station of the cable car, the truth is that every time I remember that moment, I say that it was God who guided and protected us all the way. Some officers of the national guard attended us immediately and took us to a medical emergency post they had at that station. What happened after that I don't know, I woke up three days later in a clinic in the city and the first thing I see when I wake up is a lady crying with joy, shouting that she had woken up.
That lady screaming with emotion was my mother, I completely lost my memory, I didn't know where I was, who were the people in the room watching me, I didn't know who I was, I didn't know anything.
After two long days in the clinic, I was discharged, I had completely recovered my memory, my parents wanted to take me immediately to the house in Ciudad Bolivar, but I told them no, I made it clear that first I had to return to Caracas and finish some things at work. After leaving the clinic I met my friend " The Chinese" and we decided to go back to the cable car, to ask the workers what had happened to the hikers that day.
We arrived at 10:00am at the cable car office and met Mr. Gregory Zapata, who was behind his desk reviewing some documents he had in very thick folders.
- Me: Good morning Mr. Gregory, how are you, how's work? - Gregory: Good morning, I'm very well, with a lot of work, but come in, sit down. I'm very glad to see you again, it's a miracle that you're here safe and sound after what happened to you. - Chinese: Thank God we're here, alive, because if we hadn't decided to go down that day, we might have died of hypothermia.
We were talking for more than two hours with Mr. Gregory, at that time he explained in detail everything that had happened that tragic day. That was the day of bad luck, according to what Gregory told us, it turns out that the freight car never reached the top with the rescuers because the system had presented a mechanical failure, which they could not repair until the next day. The first group of people that were in the last station with us and that had decided to go ahead, to rescue the disappeared excursionists, were obtained with a strong fog that made them separate and lose the sense of where they were, they were five people and two of them fell by a cliff, which caused the death to them immediately.
The second group of rescuers who should have climbed up from the freight car had to walk, they got the cable car staff who had gone astray, helped the staff and had to come down with the two bodies. The next day three teams of rescuers came back up to find the missing hikers, but they got the four hikers at 8:00pm that day, stiff, hypothermically dead.
I couldn't believe everything Gregory had finished telling us, it seemed like a tale from a horror movie, I felt more and more fortunate to be alive.
What I want to say to my dear readers is that life is something volatile, today we are doing something very quiet and tomorrow we do not know if we can continue in this life. Many times we focus only on working and generating money, but we leave aside the most important thing, which is to share with family, enjoy all the good things this planet offers us, share with our friends.
For me, a moral of this story would be that many times we must make quick decisions, even if these lead to some risk, to remain firm in that decision and fight for what we want, remember that life is only one and you have to live each moment as if it were the last.