Bill Hansen, accounting manager at CFCA in Kansas City, joined Bob and the walkers in Ecuador during Aug. 15-21. An avid runner, Bill had every intention of completing the route without incident, but had a surprising setback at the end of the week.
Bob Hentzen, left, and Bill Hansen, center, continue along Walk2gether with their “magic belts.”
I joined the walk in Quito. Just outside Quito, we crossed the equator and had about a 6-to-7-mile uphill walk.
The terrain got steeper as we approached the top. On the other side of the mountains, we saw trees and mountains. It reminded me a lot of the Missouri Ozarks.
For the next two days, we walked through the Andes and fortunately, it was all downhill.
We saw cows. I donít know how they would get on top of these mountains, grazing, or how they would get down, but it reminded me a lot of Switzerland.
For two days, we didnít see any houses or any people. We saw traffic, of course.
When we arrived at the bottom of that mountain range, we entered the Ecuadorian rain forest. I saw a lot of palm trees, banana trees and coffee plants.
Thatís when we started seeing people. We saw poverty, too. We were walking seven 5K segments, or about 21 miles a day.
On Friday, we came to a community called Porto de Quito where we started walking uphill into the Ecuadorian pineapple growing range. Thatís when I had the experience with my back.
Iíve been running for about five years and I have never had any problem with my back. Everyone told me to watch out for blisters.
I was watching my feet, wiping them off, putting lotion on them, changing socks and I had no problems at all. I was in good shape and feeling good.
When I first felt the pain in my back, I thought I could walk it off. Sometimes when youíre running, you get a cramp in your muscle.
You run through it and it goes away. But this wasnít going away. By noon on Friday, my back had had it.
During a rest period, I was waiting in the van, discouraged and very depressed.
When I started planning my participation in the walk last February, it never dawned on me that I wouldnít be able to do the whole week. My back has never bothered me.
I prayed and told God how I felt.
ìWhy did you bring me this far just to stop it here?î I asked.
Bob came out of the camper to start the walk again. I knew at that point I wouldnít be able to go any farther.
Before I could say anything, Bob came up to me and asked, ìHow are you feeling?î
ìMy backís had it,î I said. ìIím really, really sorry.î
ìWait a minute,î Bob said.
He went into his camper. That was really strange because when Bob gets out of his camper to go again, he doesnít stop for anything. I knew something was up.
He brought out this back belt with two straps that go around your shoulders and an elastic band that goes around your midsection.
You tighten the elastic band around your midsection and it feels like somebody is pushing up on the small of your back.
The minute I put it on, it was instant relief. I didnít feel the pain at all. It completely went away.
We started walking, and I thought, ìWow! This is great.î It was the key.
I walked all day Friday and all day Saturday. I wore the belt both days and had no problems whatsoever. I would not have been able to finish the walk without that belt.
Some people call it the ìmagic belt.î It really is a magic belt. I was able to finish the whole week. It was an answer to prayer.
Bob Hentzen comments:
I believe the magic part of the belt is the fact that it was given to me as a gift in love and concern by our CFCA co-workers in Ocotepeque, Honduras.
Experience has taught me that on these daily long treks, one’s back can suffer from the constant muscular effort made in the same direction.
I have found two solutions: change one’s stride on a regular basis, and use some kind of support for the lower back. This is what I believe helped Peter (Ndungo, Nairobi, Kenya, project coordinator) and Bill.
It also helped Maria Mejias from Venezuela, and presently it is being used by Don Juan, a 61-year-old walker from Peru.
There are two belts. One I use, and the other magically finds its way to whoever needs it.
Greetings to all.