“That looks interesting Joan. I am sure we will find somewhere to go today.”
“You mean if we have a bike or roller skates according to those signs, which we don’t have. Remember we are just unknowing tourists deciding to go for a day’s walk. We are not going to set up the record in kilometers per day.”
Joan was annoyed to say the least. She was thirsty, tired and felt like she had just visited a sauna, leaving out the refreshing shower afterwards. Sometimes she wondered why she had to marry Charles. His hobbies were so entirely different to hers. A day at the local swimming pool with a refreshing drink would have been enough for her, but no. He had to climb the highest mountain, swim the longest river and if there was some energy left, he would probably walk home instead of taking a comfortable train or bus which would be available.
“Let’s go to that place called Altreu.” Charles decided and Joan noticed that sparkle of energy in his brown deep set eyes. She was sure even his lips were quivering with anticipation.
“That is 9 Kilometers Charles. It might be less than 9 miles but it will take ages.”
“No problem Joan; we will be there for tea time. We can take a return train.”
She was sure the mention of the train was just to make her bend to his will, but she gave up thinking why did she not fall in love with a man that had stamp collecting as a hobby. With this in mind she set off with Charles leading the way and having no idea where they were going.
The first part of the path seemed to follow the river, the second part of the path was also following the river and she was sure the last part would follow the river as well. She noticed it was quite desolate on those river banks. There was no sign of houses, restaurants or anything that would bring refreshment to her parched throat. Of course they had a packed lunch in their rucksacks and Joan was glad when lunch time came and they could sit on a stone at the side of the path and quench their thirst and eat some sandwiches. In the meanwhile the drinks were lukewarm from the heat of the sun and the bread in the sandwiches resemble blotting paper absorbing the butter turning it into an oily accompanying substance helping the ham to slither down her throat.
It was then that the sky seemed to change colour. She had noticed for sometime a few electric darts lighting up the sky in the nearby mountains, but Charles said not to worry. Those mountain storms usually stay in the mountains.
“Are you sure Charles?”
“Of course, no problem.”
Joan started to feel more uneasy when she noticed the dark clouds were no longer just dark, but a shade of black and water began pouring upon her already wet t-shirt from sweat.
“Let’s shelter under a tree” she shouted to Charles. She had to shout as the noise from the thunder was quite loud.”
“That would be dangerous” was the answer;“the worst place to be in a thunderstorm.”
“I thought you said that thunderstorms stayed in the mountains.”
“There are always exceptions to rules”
So hoping that this thunderstorm, an exception of course, would soon pass over Joan trudged on, noticing that a blister was developing on her heel, but biting her bottom lip in perhaps pain or anger, she was not sure. It was then that it happened. What actually happened she did not see, but Charles who was marching along the river bank disappeared from view. Charles her guide and inspiration on these death defying missions was no longer there. She continued walking towards the river bank and there he was laying on the soaking ground and moaning. Charles was moaning, her only connection to civilization was out of action.
“What happened Charles.”
“I slipped on one of those stones. I think something is broken. I need help.”
Joan remained immovable looking down at Charles. “He needs help. He needs my help.” At last her chance had come. As a punishment for all his daredevil walks with her she could walk away and leave him to suffer. After all Charles is a survivor, he will definitely find the solution.
When they delivered Charles by helicopter to the near bye hospital they diagnosed a broken ankle and a slight concussion. Joan might not be an expert in walking and other such hobbies, but she knew how to use her mobile telephone, even in another language. They were on holiday in Europe where English was only spoken upon request. She contacted the emergency services and a helicopter was organized as they were quite off the beaten track.
And now she made herself comfortable for a few days. She had organized an insurance covering return transport by plane in case of an accident before the holiday, thinking you never know.
Charles was so apologetic in the hospital.
“I am so sorry Joan. Your holiday is ruined. Now we won’t be able to see all those sights I promised you.”
“No problem Charles, the main thing is that you are back on the road to recovery.” I wonder if Charles noticed the look of relief on her face when she said those words. After her hospital visit she had a meal in one of those restaurants at the side of the river and decided a trip to the local museum would be appropriate.