Paths and roads in our surrounding hills undergoes a drastic change during the rainy season, when they are transform in sticky carpets of mud. They are stretched all over the place. A set of connections as narrow as a foot and large only a pair of meters. If you stay here for a long time it might happen that you have to walk barefoot as many local people, women, men and children do. Feet seem to grip better than shoes on muddy paths and, on the other hand, seeing folk walking barefoot, as if they were walking on a cemented road, with fine-looking muscular legs, carrying big basket or sacks of rice in their heads, challenge us foreigner and western people.
Walking in the mud barefoot is an unique experience. With each step, the mud came squeezing up between toes like toothpaste. But it is better to carefully taste the mud with the big toe first. Walking on heels increase the chances to slip and fall. To climb up and down steeply paths the big toes will help a lot by gripping hidden little roots or rocks. A foot can feel the smallest variations in the uniformity of the mud; sometimes it delighted it, sometimes it massage it, but it is always slippery. Often there are sharp rocks or old broken branches on the bottom, and these might scratch the skin. Painfully. After hours of barefoot hiking you jump with joy in the first river you meet. It is blissful; the cold water feels good and the pain of the small wounds seem to disappear. Short experience. Humor will surely change. Because the current, it is impossible to see clearly were the feet are going. Again and again you smashed toes and ankles on anything hard that raises on the riverbed and after a while you desire only to be back in decent and soft mud …. to heal the latest river wounds.
Barefoot hiking is not recommended unless for trial and self-punishment. Of course walking in the mud with shoes or rubber boots is out of place here, but at least the feet are protected. Still lifting the footwear clenched by heavy slice of mud and sliding on submerged slimy stones is just part of the pleasure of discovering what we are; big heavy bodies in fragile feet! And a walking stick , better if it is a friend, will help us to keep the balance in our journey.