Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado

Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado

Author:Nando Parrado [Parrado, Nando]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 978-0-307-34702-2
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Published: 2006-04-06T16:00:00+00:00

ON THE MORNING of November 15, Numa, Roberto, Tintin, and I stood outside the fuselage, looking down the valley that sloped off to the east ready to begin our escape. Numa was beside me, and though he was trying to hide it, I could see he was in pain. Since the avalanche, he had forced himself to eat, despite his revulsion, knowing he’d need all his strength for the expedition. Still, like Coche, he could not stomach more than a few scraps at a time—sometimes he could not make himself swallow at all—and while his will remained strong, it was clear that his body had weakened. A few nights earlier, someone trying to make his way across the dark fuselage had stepped on Numa’s calf as he lay on the floor. An ugly bruise quickly appeared, and when Roberto saw how badly the leg had swollen, he advised Numa to drop out of the expedition. Numa assured Roberto that the bruise was nothing to be concerned about, and he firmly refused to let us leave without him.

“How are you feeling?” I asked him, after we had gathered our things and said good-bye to the others. “Are you sure you can make it on that leg?”

Numa shrugged. “It’s nothing,” he said. “I’ll be fine.”

As we set off down the slope, the weather was overcast and the air was chilly but the winds were light, and despite all my misgivings about the eastern trip, it felt good to be leaving the crash site at last. At first we made good progress moving down the slope, but after an hour or so of hiking, the skies darkened, temperatures dropped, and snow began to squall in violent spirals all around us. In the blink of an eye, a heavy storm rolled over us. Knowing that every second counted, we fought our way back up the slope and stumbled into the fuselage, frightened and half-frozen, just as the storm matured into a full-blown blizzard. As stiff winds rocked the plane, Roberto and I exchanged a sober glance. We understood, without speaking, that if the storm had hit just an hour or two later, trapping us farther from shelter on the open slopes, we would now be dead or dying.

The blizzard, one of the worst we’d had in all our weeks in the Andes, kept us penned in the fuselage for two long days. While we waited out the storm, Roberto grew more concerned with Numa’s leg. There were two large sores now, each almost as large as a billiard ball. As Roberto lanced and drained the sores, he realized Numa was in no shape to hike through the mountains.

“Your legs are getting bad,” said Roberto. “You’ll have to stay behind.”

For the first time on the mountain, Numa’s temper flared. “My leg is fine!” he shouted. “I can bear the pain!”

“Your leg is septic,” said Roberto. “If you would eat more, your body would be strong enough to fight off the infection.”

“I am not staying behind!”

Roberto glared at Numa and, with his characteristic bluntness, said, “You are too weak.


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