The girl complained, hot and sticky within their raincoats. Newcrest offered a different climate and four defined seasons. Rainforests remained consistent, with a warm environment for the tall evergreen trees. Ferns and colourful plants thriving in the wet, humid conditions presented. The ground was a blend of tall grasses, creeping vines and dirt. A winding path, carved out by the many visitors this place had seen over the years. Beneath the soil were remnants of limestone. Small piles of raided earth uncovered pieces of broken pottery. Avocado trees grew wild and plentiful. Another tree hosted unusual berries, like grapes. Leticia told the girls to be wary of these. They varied in colour and influenced a person’s emotions when eaten. Her ancestors used them in divination or to heal the sick. While the effects were often temporary, their misuse could be deadly.
Thick thorny vines snaked their way across the stone pillars. These were the gateways to the temple and its ruins. A gated warning to the traveller, these vines were alive and would soon reseal the path once crossed. Undeterred by the superstition, Patrick swung the machete. It struck with a disappointing tap against its unyielding foe. He threw his weight behind each swing denting the branch until it snapped. The sound echoed, disturbing a flock of birds resting nearby. Patrick tugged the vines, wary of the spikes that snagged his clothes. Luliana squealed, jumping onto a rock as a snake slithered into the long grass a few feet away from her. In his concern for his daughter, Patrick’s hand caught the sharp edge of the broken vine. A large splinter embedded itself in his palm below his little finger. He cussed the air, clutching his hand between his thighs. Leticia rushed to his aid, using tweezers to remove the invading wood.
Their journey showed the power of nature to reclaim what humans once stole. The jungle swallowed crumbling stone walls, totems and bolted wooden gates. Wooden slates, held together with rope, created the bridge. The cavern beneath fell to the rocky waters, and a fine spray met the sun to create rainbows. Each tentative step brought them closer to their doom as they clung tight to the slack rope handrail. The bridge swayed, creaked and groaned. Patrick gripped tighter at the snapping twig Luliana stepped on, at the other side. He no longer needed to wonder if life would flash before his eyes.
The rushing water grew louder as they followed the path to the first significant ruin. There was speculation over its usage. The floor remained intact, with nature bursting through the cracks. A bush with yellow flowers with orange centres and large leaves looked inviting. Patrick imagined what secrets this bush would tell had it a voice. It was a rumour that the water here had fertile properties. Visitors to this place reported conceiving their babies in this place. They succumbed to its beauty, hypnotised by the cascading water. The pull he and Leticia felt to each other was a testament to those rumours. Patrick shifted, subtle tugs on his trousers to adjust them. Leticia seemed to slow, her moves a hazy dream. At that point in the film, the hapless hero sets his sights on the out-of-his-league beauty. Leticia fanned herself, pinching at her top to create a draft, her eyes holding Patrick’s for a few moments.
Patrick knew if he kissed her, he would forget everything. Instead, he lunged forward, closing the gap and landing with regret on his knee. His voice pitched another octave before he composed him. Luliana gasped, guessing the magic that was to happen. She had seen the ring, finding it in his jacket pocket, when she was looking for some money for treats. A single solitaire diamond, half a carat, was set upon a white gold band. Leticia bit her lips, breaking into a huge smile as he asked her to make him and their family whole.