Rosie and the Sleeping Giant

by Mari Pintkowski  (Nov. 2014)

I don’t know where it all began, but what I remember is AWESOME!

My jungle was covered in a thick green canopy of leaves. The trees had musical names like che chen, cha ka, chico zapote and katalox.

These jungle giants were full of berries; feasted on by spider monkeys and a variety of tropical birds. The song of the Yucatan jay bird, mot mot, toucan and chachalaka sang me to sleep: that is until the sleeping giant woke up.

The jungle was my home since I was a small puppy. Two people with serious faces lived in the wooden, thatched roof casita. Each day they tossed out tortillas for me and the other animals who called this place home. On a good day, there would be some rice, and even a little chicken or pork.

Each morning, I peered out from behind the rocks and bushes when the people with happy voices and fast moving feet passed by. They were carrying dive gear and wearing bright orange vests. They disappeared down into the cave and later emerged dripping wet.

On that special morning, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds just like any other day, but the people with laughing voices never came.

The couple with serious faces moved about very fast, putting things in baskets and boarding up the sheds. I heard words like, chaac(rain), ik (wind) and nah (house). A large black truck filled with many people dressed in white pulled up in front of the house. Before my people climbed into the back with the others, they left a large stack of tortillas and some scraps alongside a bowl of water under the lean-to next to the house. “Koox” (let’s go), I heard someone say.

I settled down beside my food and listened to the leaves shaking above as the monkeys and birds moved in a frantic pace. The squirrels and toucans were busily settling into the holes in the yax nik and katalox trees. The mot mots were gliding into the underground caves.

The sky was darkening quickly and yet it was only midday. I knew something big was coming, but just who this sleeping giant was remained a mystery to me.  Then the sound and light show began with loud crashing thunder and a dance of lightning bolts that appeared to be getting closer. Before long, large raindrops began to splatter all around me.

Just like the visitors in the orange vests, I made my way through the mouth of the cave and down the endless chain of stairs to the cenote. I could hear the sounds of bat wings, and the tick tock of the mot mot hiding in the darkness. I found a spot away from the water’s edge and curled up and waited.

The sleeping giant was definitely awake now. I could hear groans and creaks from the outside as the storm intensified. I imagined the powerful winds rattling the trees until their roots could no longer hold on. I could see nothing in the darkness as I peered through the opening in the cenote roof.  Rainwater was leaking in through the holes in the porous limestone rock, but I managed to stay dry in my hide-away.

When I emerged, I was greeted with the terrifying silence of a changed world. Trees, big and small, were lying on their sides with roots exposed. The wind had turned the remaining leaves a dreadful grayish-brown color. I could not hear any animal cries or even movement. Where were all the birds and butterflies? Would they return? What about the people? Would anyone come back to the house and cenote to get me?

In time, I realized that I was on my own. I had to find my way out. Those days and nights were the scariest of all. There was little food besides some berries that Mother Nature had left behind. I knew I could fall prey to the jaguar and puma.

I wandered through the jungle tripping over roots and branches until I heard the buzzing of chain saws in the distance. As I got closer, I heard Mayan voices.

I passed in and out from one disheveled settlement to the next. I found out that I was not welcome until I circled the path around La Selva Mariposa, a little Bed and Breakfast. I was greeted by two large, playful dogs who led me to the people who were resting by a cascading waterfall. The man brought me some water, but I could no longer hold my head up. The woman wrapped me in a blanket and the five of us piled into a car.

I woke up the next day at Dr. Juan’s, the Veterinarian, office. I heard them say that I had traveled through a hurricane called Wilma. It took a long, long time for my wounds to heal and for me to get my strength back. My skin was broken with cuts and open wounds. The pads on my feet had worn thin from the miles I trekked through the jungle and in and out of tiny pueblos. Even though my home at Dr. Juan’s office was only a wire cage, I finally felt safe.

After many weeks, I found myself traveling back with Dr. Juan to La Selva Mariposa, where the big, playful dogs and friendly people lived. He said this would be my new home.

It did not take long to realize that this is where a new chapter of my life would begin. I looked around and saw the familiar jungle canopy above and the pitted limestone rocks on the ground. I heard the tok tok of the mot mot in the distance, along with the chatter of the grackle and Yucatan jay in the branches high above me.

The sound of trickling water came from waterfalls with clear pools to drink from and cool off in on a hot summer day. There was always food in my bowl and best of all, I had a family.

The people call me Rosie, and greet me with smiles. My sisters, Molly and Zoie, share their home and let me know I have a place as their sister. I know that when and if the Sleeping Giant returns, this time I will not be alone.

Addendum:
Hurricane Wilma was the most intense tropical cyclone recorded in the Atlantic basin during the record-breaking hurricane season of 2005. On Oct. 15, a tropical depression formed in the Caribbean near Jamaica and two days later formed into a tropical storm. It headed west and turned abruptly south after becoming a tropical storm. It intensified and became a hurricane on Oct. 18 and in 24 hours intensified to 185 mile-per-hour winds. The hurricane entered the Yucatan Peninsula on Oct. 20 with winds of 150 mph and crossed the peninsula and emerged into the Gulf of Mexico as category 2. It intensified again in the Gulf and reached Cape Romano, Florida, with 120 mph winds. It crossed Florida, re-intensified as it reached the Atlantic, continued to Nova Scotia as a tropical cyclone, and finally dissipated on the 29th of October. The Yucatan Peninsula was one of the most devastated places touched by Wilma.

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Moe Mulrooney, July 2014
This story is dedicated to my grandson, Breck Leeper.


Rosie Mari Pintkowski


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