Have you ever seen mud that has been trampled on by hundreds of cows?  Their hooves begin to slip into the same places over and over again, perfectly spaced to a cow’s pace, until the mud is formed into undulating waves nearly knee deep.  If it hasn’t rained for 24 hours then the mud may have hardened in some places and you may be able to hop from the top of one wave to the next.

The waves are formed when the cows walk, and their hind hooves fall right into the space that their front hooves leave.

Hooves are much more well formed for tramping through Nicaraguan mud than feet, even feet in good farmin’ rubber boots.  I learned to be wary of mud that was not in waves when I got stuck.  For a minute I fought against a rising panic in the pit of my stomach when I couldn’t move either of my feet at all, not even a milimeter, in any direction.  I felt like I had been set into wet cement, and I imagined myself stranded in the middle of the mud stretch, helpless until the mud dried and could be cracked away with a crowbar.  When I regained my senses I used both hands plus my foot to yank one boot out and get footing on a firmer mudcrest.  Then I slipped my foot out of the most stuck boot and then balanced like a stork while Vernonn wiggled and finally sklooshed my boot out.

Vernon wasn’t so lucky.  He got stuck right next to a barbed wire fence over grown with espina, a particularly thorny weed.  We literally spent an hour getting him unstuck.  Eventually I had to lend him one of my boots so that he could take his foot out and wiggle his boot out.  The mud very nearly won.