This part of the story was told to me by Ben – obviously I was no longer with him at this point. He was stressed, and eventually exhausted, hungry and dehydrated. Yesterday, my oldest daughter and I helped him talk us through his adventure, but much of this info we didn’t receive in chronological order from him. I’ve done my best to share the story as it was given to me, though it is not in his own words. All amounts of time are approximate, but are likely fairly accurate, as Ben has picked up the skill of telling time by the sun, which is widely used by the people we live and work with.
***As with previous posts, the photos are simply to give you an idea of the kind of terrain Ben and his kidnapper were walking in. Ben especially mentioned this first picture, saying that they had done a lot of climbing on hills like that one!
Ben and his kidnapper left me behind and walked off into the brush. The day was hot and sunny, and it was almost noon. They stayed within the forested areas, though there were fields and roads nearby. They didn’t rush, but simply walked steadily on, almost always going uphill. Before long, the kidnapper untied Ben’s hands, so that he could walk more easily. Gradually they went deeper into the forest, with no cleared land or roads nearby, as far as Ben could tell.
By this time, Ben had found some internal sense of calm. When Ben and I were together in the car, the kidnapper had not treated us cruelly – whenever the man had come into physical contact with us (tying our hands and blindfolding us) he had not been rough about it. I had mentioned this to Ben before we were separated. I thought at the time that our best possibility to remain unscathed – at least under those circumstances – was to not do anything that would cause the kidnapper to become angry or to feel that he needed to be more threatening or violent with us. Ben continued to follow this course after he was left alone with the kidnapper.
Because he didn’t know when he might get anything more to drink, Ben was careful about conserving the tea in his bottle. He only took occasional sips, so that it would last as long as possible. The kidnapper drank my cola!
Ben did not know that hundreds, and then thousands, and then hundreds of thousands of people were praying for him. But the prayers were certainly strengthening him, and helping him to act carefully and wisely as he continued through the woods with the armed man.
After about an hour of steady walking, the kidnapper blindfolded Ben again. He held Ben’s arm to steady him and they walked, with Ben stumbling and slipping on the rough path, for about another ten minutes. They pushed their way through some thick, tall bushes and then the kidnapper removed Ben’s blindfold. They were in a hidden spot, underneath several trees, completely surrounded by a heavy growth of underbrush.
They sat and rested in the shade of the trees, remaining in this secluded place for several hours. They never saw or heard any other people, or any vehicles. As Ben related the tale to me, he said, “Being kidnapped is so boring! I really wished I’d had my Nintendo DS with me!”
From this location the kidnapper made his first phone call, with a demand for ransom. Ben couldn’t understand much of what the kidnapper said as he spoke rapidly on the phone, but he did hear that the ransom amount was 3 million Lempiras – approximately $150,000.
Ben shared with me a few of the conversations and interactions he had with the kidnapper during those hours under the trees. At one point, Ben told the kidnapper that I had said we were going to get some school work done on Monday (we’d had to take some time off from our homeschooling recently as we prepared for the wedding), and Ben said that this was the good thing about getting kidnapped – no school! The kidnapper enjoyed this joke.
Most of the time, however, they just sat without talking. I was surprised to hear this from Ben, because he is generally quite a motor-mouth, but he replied, “It’s different when you’re talking to a guy who’s holding a gun on you.”
The weather was changing. This is the time of year when we frequently experience tropical afternoon rainstorms. As the sky clouded over, my son and his kidnapper occasionally got drizzled upon enough to get them quite wet, then they dried out, then got soaked again, and dried out again.
Eventually, a very heavy downpour started. The kidnapper tied Ben’s hands, and they started off walking in the woods again. After about ten minutes of walking in the rain, they came to a small, cave-like rock outcropping, where they stopped and took shelter from the storm, which lasted about another twenty minutes or so. After the rain stopped, they continued to sit there under the rocks.
At one point, Ben needed to relieve himself, so the kidnapper untied his hands and let him step just outside of the little shelter. While there, with the kidnapper watching him, he saw a branch which was completely covered with small black and yellow butterflies. Ben scooped a bunch of them up with his hands, and threw them into the air. He and his kidnapper watched and laughed as the butterflies flew about him. Then Ben crawled back in under the rock, and his hands were tied again.
The sheltered area was just barely large enough for Ben to lie down. As the afternoon waned, and thousands of people prayed for his safety, Ben slept.