Of all the plants we saw during our hikes, the prickly pear cactus was one of my favorites. Often, the cacti were covered with bright-coloured fruit, which Storyteller Boatman picked and made into prickly pear margaritas. The juice was a beautiful bright colour, although a bit bland in taste.
The colorful margaritas added a touch of class to our nightly gatherings. Every evening, our small group would gather on the beach, to tell stories or read poetry. Sitting on the sand, we would examine our legs and feet for new bruises, new blisters, and the dreaded trench foot fungus. Non-fiction Writer would read dramatic excerpts from one of his books. We listened eagerly.
Sometimes Storyteller Boatman would tell funny boatman stories or play his guitar. A natural storyteller, he has done this trip almost 200 times over the last 20 years, so he had no end of great stories to tell. Before each of the big rapids, he would tell stories about famous people who had died in the rapid, heightening the anticipation of all that churning water. The poems he recited tended to be kind of macho – women and horses seemed to be a common theme -- so I responded one night with a feminist poem, just to give the gathering some balance. As it grew dark, we would all gradually stretch out on the sand, and Storyteller Boatman would point out constellations in the night sky.