August 29, 2005

Drinking prickly pear juice



 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.

17 comments:

Yankee T said...

I get drunk on margaritas of your writing, jo(e). I love your photos and your accounts of the trip. I can never get enough. Thank you.

Running2Ks said...

That picture is absolutely amazing! You really need to make a postcard business!

reverendmother said...

I would love to take a trip like this one of these days--if you get a chance, could you e-mail me to let me know which organization/company sponsored the trip? (Assuming it's available to the general public and not related to your university or something.)

Anyway, I am enjoying these travelogues.

jo(e) said...

Reverendmother: I don't mind making the name of the company public. The trip was through Moki Mac River Expeditions. It was the fourteen-day oar-powered trip through the Grand Canyon.

Mona Buonanotte said...

My grandmother used to bring us all Prickly Pear Candy from Arizona when she visited. Not too sweet on it's own, but rolled in lots of sugar. We couldn't eat it without gingerly running our tongues over every millimeter of the candy square, to see if they forgot to remove any of the pricklies!

Love the photos, jo(e)!

Friday Mom said...

Thanks for giving us a taste of the trip. I'm enjoying it thoroughly. Another gorgeous picutre.

peripateticpolarbear said...

Yummmm
And could you smell the fire as you looked at the stars?

Phantom Scribbler said...

Yum, margaritas. I've seen little prickly pears growing here in Massachusetts. I'd consider them fodder for margarita experiments, but it turns out they're endangered here. Alas.

I guess I'll just have to drink your virtual margaritas while peeking over your shoulder on this remembered journey. Thanks for taking us along!

purple_kangaroo said...

Sounds wonderful; very enjoyable to read.

Terminaldegree said...

Wow, that is GORGEOUS!

BrightStar said...

Your photos are incredible. I'm very appreciative you're taking the time to share all of this with us.

ccw said...

A beautiful picture and another great story.

Rana said...

_That_ is an impressive picture.


I'm very glad you're back, and glad you went away, so that you could come back and share such neat things with us. *smile*

timna said...

I really want to do this. mr. t. sounds interested, too. thanks for bringing it back for us.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Such nice pictures!

Did the boatman take his guitar on the raft? Was it a nice guitar?

jo(e) said...

Rob: The boatman packed his guitar in a hard case, put it in a bright yellow dry bag, and strapped it onto his raft. He had a harmonica too, although that took less room.

The Non-fiction Writer brought a bamboo flute that he kept in a waterproof tube, and he sometimes played that in narrow canyons. The way it echoed was really cool.

Pink Cupcake said...

Such an amazing picture, Jo(e) - thank you for sharing your vacation with all of us. Wish I was drinking a Prickly Pear Margarita whilst reading about your travels... ;)