Country of the Blind (Ch14)

Nunez loved talking to Medina-sarote. After a while, he started to speak to her when she was out of sight. Medina-sarote listened to him; to his description of the stars, the mountains, and her own beauty. She could only understand a little, but the mystery of it thrilled her.

Nunez’s love for Medina-sarote grew. He wanted to marry her. But Medina-sarote was afraid. Medina-sarote’s sisters liked Nunez, but they did not approve of his desire to marry their sister. The young men in the village also disapproved of the idea. One man got into a fight with Nunez. He hit Nunez, but Nunez took advantage of his sight and knocked the man to the ground. After this no one tried to fight with Nunez again. But they still thought the marriage was impossible.

Yacob loved his daughter. When she cried, it upset him. `Nunez is an idiot,’ he said. ‘Nunez cannot do anything right.’

‘I know,’ cried Medina-sarote. `But he is better than before. And he is strong and kind – stronger and kinder than anyone else. He loves me and I love him. ‘Yacob thought about this for some time. In the end, he spoke to the elders – the wise men of the village. `My daughter loves Nunez and wants to marry him,’ he told them. ‘And in truth, I like Nunez too. Day by day, he is getting better. Perhaps soon, he will be just like us.’

‘We will think about it,’ the elders told him.

Great Glen Way Chapter 4: From Fort William to Spean Bridge

After a good night’s sleep at Nevis Bank Inn, Walter and I buy some sandwiches and water at a petrol station, walk from the centre of Fort William to Banavie and get on the path to Gairlochy. Today, we plan to walk 23km.

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We are walking next to the Caledonian Canal. Our route is clear. We follow the canal and climb gently up hill. There are eight locks here, places for raising or lowering boats. This section is called Neptune’s Staircase.

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At Moy Bridge, we stop and rest. Farmers use this bridge to cross from one side of the canal to the other. It isn’t mechanised, so a gate keeper must open and close it manually. Around us, there are many beautiful tress: Scot’s pine, birch, alder and beech to name a few. Walter boils some tea on his gas stove. Although it is summer, it is surprisingly cold.

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Our accommodation is in Spean Bridge, six kilometres from Gairlochy. We leave the Caledonian Canal and begin walking along a quiet road, the B8004. On the way, we pass Mucomir power station and the Commando Memorial. Many soldiers trained in this area of Scotland during World War Two.

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The main road to Spean Bridge is noisy. We decide not to follow it. Instead, we choose a forest path. It leads us to our next stop for the night, Riverside Lodge in Spean Bridge. When we arrive, we are tired. But the first walking day is over, and we don’t have blisters.

We are grateful for that.

That night, we treat ourselves to a three-course meal at The Old Pines restaurant, which was very good. Colin, a retired fire officer who owns the Riverside Lodge, drops us there in his car and we walk back with dark rain clouds above us. We make it back to Riverside lodge just in time. A short while later, the rain comes pouring down.

Our adaptation of H.G. Wells’s Country of the Blind (Ch13)

Nunez was ill for several days after that. The people of the village nursed him kindly. But he had to lie quietly in a dark hut. There, day after day, blind men came to him, telling him about his mistakes.

Slowly, the people of the Country of the Blind became individuals. There was Yacob, Nunez’s new master; Pedro, Yacob’s nephew; and Medina-saroté, the youngest daughter of Yacob. Others didn’t think she was beautiful, but Nunez did.

Slowly, Nunez found ways to help Medina-saroté; and slowly, Medina-saroté began to notice Nunez. Then one evening, while they sat side by side in the dim starlight and listened to music at a gathering, their fingers touched. Tenderly, they held hands. A few days later, while they were eating, Nunez felt her hand softly seeking his…

‘I must speak to her,’ thought Nunez. ‘I must tell her my feelings.’

Then one evening while Medina-saroté was sitting and spinning wool in the summer moonlight, Nunez went to her. He sat at her feet, told her that she was beautiful, that he loved her. She did not reply, but Nunez was content. He could see that his words pleased her.

After that, Nunez spoke to Medina-saroté as often as he could. Soon, the valley was the world, and the land beyond the mountains, the land without Medina-saroté in it, was no more than a fairy tale.

Our adaptation of Country of the Blind Chapter 12

Nunez hid in the cave. The hours passed slowly. Sometimes, the words `In the Country Of The Blind – The One Eyed Man is King’ sang in his head. But mostly, Nunez thought about fighting. How could he fight these blind people? He had no weapons, and there were many of them.

After two days, he was very hungry. He tried to find some food in the forest at night. He tried to catch a llama. ‘But what can I kill it with? A stone?’ The llama was not easy to catch. It ran away every time Nunez got near it. On the second day, he started to shiver and feel very afraid. He crawled out of the cave and followed the river down to the houses. He shouted out, and two blind men came to meet him. When they saw him, they opened the gate to the town and let him in.

‘I’m sorry. I was mad,’ Nunez said, `but I was newly made. I couldn’t help it.’

The blind people listened and Nunez talked more. He told them that he was wiser now, and he was sorry for everything. He cried. He did not want to, but he was weak with hunger.

The blind men listened carefully. They talked amongst themselves. Then they said: ‘Can you still “see”?’

`No,’ Nunez replied immediately. `The word means nothing to me – less than nothing.’ Again he cried. Then he said: ‘Before you ask any more questions, give me some food or I shall die!’

The Great Glen Way Chapter 3: To Fort William

The train journey continued. North of Tyndrun station, we passed Ben Dorain. To me, its shape was like Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain. The train crossed two viaducts, curved around Ben Dorain, and then continued north.

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We passed other places: Bridge of Orchy; Rannoch, Corrour (the highest railway station in Britain), Tulloch and others too.

Fort William has a population of about 10,000, so it isn’t a big town. However, many people visit it because Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain, is there. The valleys, or glens, near Ben Nevis, are also popular with movie makers. For example, Braveheart, Rob Roy, and Harry Potter were made there.

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Finally, the train arrived at Fort William station. Walter and I left the station. We had our rucksacks on our backs and were looking for our first place to stay, the Nevis Bank Inn. We began walking to it. On the way, we passed the Duncansburgh Church, near the official start of the Great Glen Way. The name comes from Sir Duncan Cameron. Because he was rich and important, he tried to change the town’s name to Duncansburgh. He didn’t succeed. In Gaelic, the name of the town is ‘The Garrison’. Why? General Monck, who was part of Oliver Cromwell’s army, built a wooden fort in the area in 1654. Then General Mackay built a stone one in 1690 and gave Fort William its name. Fort William has a martial history.

But we weren’t thinking about the town’s history or its names. We were thinking about tomorrow, because tomorrow, our walk started.

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The Great Glen Way Chapter 2: From Queen Street Station to Arrochar

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The first public train reached Fort William in 1894. It was steam then; now it is diesel. When our train to Fort William arrived, we quickly found our seats, put our rucksacks above us on the luggage racks, and sat back.

We were on the left side of the train carriage. ‘It has the best views,’ said one of the passengers. I hoped she was correct. Around us, other train passengers were talking. Most of the voices were Scottish, but there were other languages and accents too. A few minutes later, our four-hour journey started. I began eating my sandwiches and Walter bought a cup of tea from a woman who was pushing a trolley.

Eventually, we left Glasgow behind. We were now travelling beside Loch Long, and could see the mountains at Arrochar ahead of us. Arrochar is a small village at the top of Loch Long. In the mid-thirteenth century, King Hakkon of Norway sailed to Scotland. He wanted to be king of Western Scotland; and in 1263, his ships sailed into Arrochar. The Scots didn’t want King Hakkon as their king, and they fought the Norwegians at Largs. Thirty-five years ago, Walter and I stayed for the weekend at Arrochar Youth Hostel. On the Saturday, we climbed Beinn Nanairn. When we reached the top of it, there was thick snow and we couldn’t see. It was dangerous, but Walter was good at reading maps. On the Sunday, we had to return home. But we had no money. We couldn’t buy food or a train ticket. We had to walk and hitchhike back to Glasgow on empty stomachs.

We laughed when we remembered how hungry we were. This time, we had plenty of cash!

Our adaptation of The Country of the Blind (Ch11)

‘Bogota!’ one man called out. ‘Bogota! Where are you?’

Nunez didn’t move. ‘Should I attack them,’ he wondered again. The blind men moved closer. Nunez held his spade tightly and moved towards them. ‘If one touches me,’ thought Nunez, `I will hit him.’

‘No one come near me!’ he shouted.

But the men ran at him, grabbing the air with their hands, trying to find him. They made a circle and surrounded him. ‘Leave me alone!’ he cried.

‘Bogota! Put down that spade and come off the grass,’ one of the men said.

This made Nunez angry. `My name is not Bogota! I will hurt you. I will. Leave me alone!’

Nunez saw a space in the circle around him and ran towards it. But the men heard him and the circle tightened. Nunez swung his spade. ‘Swish!’ The spade struck an arm and one of the men fell down with a sharp cry of pain. When the man fell, a space in the circle opened. At once, Nunez ran through the gap. He ran towards the streets and houses again. Behind him, he heard footsteps. The blind men were chasing him. They had spades and sticks too and were trying to him hit. A tall man came close. Nunez threw his spade at him, but missed.

Nunez was panicking. And he was tiring. Then he tripped and fell. When he looked up, he saw a hole in a wall of rock in front of him. A cave! Was it big enough to hide in? He jumped to his feet and made a mad run for it. When he reached the hole, he squeezed inside and sat down.

The blind men did not know where he was…

For now, he was safe.

The Great Glen Way Chapter 1: At Glasgow Queen Street station

Chapter 1: At Glasgow Queen Street station

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When I ask Walter to go with me on the Great Glen Way, he immediately agrees and I am surprised. Walter is an experienced climber: he has climbed more than 200 mountains in Scotland. But he hasn’t done a long-distance trail before. Also, he has his own business, so he is very busy.

‘When do you want to go?’ he asks when I call him.

‘The second week of August,’ I reply.

‘I am going to Cyprus with my wife and son, but I will be back at the start of August. How long is the walk?’

‘Nearly 80 miles.’

‘How long does it take?’

‘Five or six days.’

‘Okay,’ says Walter. ‘Let’s do it!’

*

A few weeks later, Walter and I met in Glasgow Queen Street station. Walter had our train tickets to Fort William, the start of the Great Glen Way. With our heavy rucksacks on our backs, we shook hands. Then we sat, had coffee, and waited for our train to arrive. We talked about our families. Walter’s son’s broken leg was healing well. My wife was visiting her family in India. We also talked about how quickly time passes. When we were high school kids, we went climbing together many times. The last time we went into the Highlands together was more than twenty-five years ago. Now we were nearly fifty years old. Could we walk so far? A few weeks before, another friend of ours quit the West Highland Way because his knees were too sore. Would our knees be strong enough? Would we finish the walk? We were determined, but sometimes that isn’t enough.

‘Can I do it? Can I finish the walk?’

Neither Walter nor I asked the question, but we both thought it.

Tagged

Our adaptation of H. G. Wells’s classic tale The Country of the Blind (Chapter 10)

Nunez was desperate. He wanted to show them the power and benefit of sight. ‘I could fight the blind men,’ he thought. ‘That would show them the advantage of sight.’ He picked up a spade. But he couldn’t do it: he couldn’t hit a blind man.

With the spade in his hand, he looked at the blind men who were standing around him with their heads to one side, listening.

Then one spoke. ‘Put down that spade,’ he said.

Nunez couldn’t believe it. How could they know? Suddenly, he felt angry. He pushed away one of the men and ran out of the village. He ran through a field of grass. When he eventually stopped, he sat on the grass and looked out towards the village. The blind men were coming out of their houses with sticks and spades. As Nunez watched, they came into the field. They were walking slowly and talking to each other. Sometimes they would shout, and sometimes they would stop and sniff the air.

One of the blind men leaned down. Bent at his waist, his head close to the ground, he came towards Nunez, feeling his way with his fingers. For five minutes, Nunez watched the wall of men come towards him. He stood up, the spade still in his hands. He had a sudden idea. ‘Should I attack them?’ Nunez wondered. He moved quietly towards the blind men. But as soon as he moved, the blind men began sniffing the air like dogs, turning their heads from side to side.

Like a song, strange words ran through Nunez’s head: ‘In The Country of The Blind the One Eyed Man is King!’

New posts coming soon…

This weekend, we will begin posting something different. During August, Walter and I completed a long-distance trail called The Great Glen Way. It is 79 miles from start to finish. We took lots of photographs and we want to tell you about our walk and show you some of Scotland’s lovely countryside.

In addition to these posts, we’ll continue with our adaptation of H. G. Wells’s classic story, The Country of the Blind.

Look out for both!

Holidays!

It’s been a busy few months for Walter and I – and now it’s time for HOLIDAYS! Walter is off to Cyprus for a few weeks and I am off to Scotland. Can’t wait. Although I will be on holiday until the beginning of September (and hence, not posting on this site), Walter and I will still be writing. We are about to start the third story in our ‘Morrow trilogy’ for Helbling publishers (the first has been published and the second is in pre-production). In addition, we are also writing a Factfile for Oxford University Press called ‘Amazing Teens.’ Talking of OUP, the art work for the Bookworm we recently wrote, called Tutankhamun, is being finalised so hopefully we will get to see the first finished pages of that soon. The proposed publication date for Tutankhamun is January 2016. Finally, Walter and I would like to thank everyone who has read our blog. Have a great summer!

Our adaptation of H.G.Wells’s Country of the Blind (Ch9)

The people of the valley lived a simple life, and they worked hard. They had food and clothing, and they had days of rest with singing and dancing.

Nunez marvelled at the valley people’s confidence and meticulousness. Everything was made to suit their needs. All the paths ran side by side and they were clean and free from obstacles. Different markings distinguished the different paths. The valley people’s senses were marvellous: they could hear the slightest movement – even the beating of a heart – and they could smell the slightest scent.

Once or twice, some people tried to listen to Nunez when he told them about his eyes and his ability to see. They sat with their heads down and ears turned towards him. He did his best to tell them of his world, the beauty of sight, the world beyond the mountains, the sky and the sunrise. They listened amused and bewildered. ‘No,’ they told him. ‘There are no mountains, only rocks where the llamas graze. After the rocks, it is the end of the world.’ They told him that his thoughts were wicked and untrue, so Nunez gave up.

One day, Nunez saw Pedro coming towards him. The people around Nunez had no idea: they couldn’t hear or smell Pedro. Nunez wanted to show the advantage of sight and said: ‘Pedro is coming here on path seventeen.’

The people around Nunez scoffed. `Not true. Pedro has no right to be on path seventeen.’

‘He is coming here,’ said Nunez. ‘Just wait.’ But Pedro turned and walked down path ten in the other direction. The people laughed at Nunez when Pedro didn’t arrive. When Nunez asked Pedro questions about him being on the path, he denied it and became hostile towards Nunez.

Our adaptation of H. G. Wells’s Country of the Blind (Ch8)

Nunez liked beautiful things. He loved the snow and the glaciers above the valley. ‘They are the most beautiful things in the world,’ he thought, ‘and I am very grateful because I can see.’ He was thinking this when he heard a voice.

‘Hey! Bogota! Come down here!’

Nunez stood up and smiled. ‘I’m going to play at trick. I won’t make a sound, and they won’t be able to find me.’

‘Why don’t you move, Bogota?’ the voice asked.

Nunez smiled and moved two steps away from the path.

‘Do not stand on the grass, Bogota. It is not allowed.’

Nunez was amazed. He didn’t even hear himself move.

The owner of the voice ran up the path towards him.

Nunez stepped on to the path again. `Here I am,’ he said.

`Why did you not come when I called you?’ the blind man asked. `Are you a child? Can you not hear the path when you walk on it?’

Nunez laughed. `I can see it. I don’t need to hear it!’

The man paused. `See? What do you mean? There is no such word.’ The man started to walk. `Follow the sound of my feet,’ he said.

Nunez followed him, but he was feeling a little annoyed.

`There is much to learn in this world,’ said the man.

`Don’t you know, ` said Nunez, `that in the Country of the Blind, the One-eyed Man Is King!’

`What is blind?’ asked the man.

*

Days and days passed. Nunez wanted to be king in the valley. He didn’t like working at night and sleeping during the day. He wanted to change this, but the valley people didn’t listen. For them, the ‘king’ was just a child.

Our adaptation of H.G. Wells’s Country of the Blind (Ch7)

An older man began to question Nunez, and Nunez tried to describe his world: the sky, the mountains, the people, and all the other wonderful things in it. The old men sat and listened – and believed nothing. Fourteen generations ago, these people became blind and were cut off from the rest of the world. The stories of another, different world were just fairy stories, they thought. Nunez slowly understood the differences between him and the people of the valley. The valley people believed their elders and questioned nothing. Their days were ‘warm and cold’ and not ‘day and night’. They said it was good to sleep in the warm and work in the cold. For them, light meant nothing.

Nunez was there, the elders said, to learn about their world, and all the people in the room agreed. They asked Nunez, `Do you know how to sleep?’ because he came to them in the warm time when they usually slept and woke them.

`I know how to sleep,’ Nunez told them, ‘but first I want food.’

They brought him food – llama’s milk in a bowl and salted bread – and took him away to a quiet place. There, they left him to eat and sleep until evening – the start of their day – came.

But Nunez didn’t sleep. He thought about his situation. Sometimes he laughed and sometimes he shook his head in bewilderment.

`They think I am from the rocks and newly born,’ he laughed. ‘But I will teach them…’ He began thinking hard.

He was still thinking when the sun set.

Our adaptation of H.G.Wells’s Country of the Blind (Ch6)

Nunez found this first meeting with the villagers difficult. Some children came to meet him. They were pretty though their eyes were closed and sunken. They touched and smelled him and listened to his every word. The three men kept close to him. ‘The man from the rock,’ the villagers said over and over again.

‘I’m from Bogota,’ Nunez said, `from over the mountain.’

‘A wild man – he is using wild words,’ said Pedro. `Did you hear that? Bogota! His mind is only young; he doesn’t know words!’

A little boy squeezed his hand. `Bogota!’ he said and laughed.

‘Yes,’ said Nunez. ‘In my world, people have eyes and can see.’

‘His name is Bogota,’ the villagers said.

‘He stumbled when he walked. He stumbled twice!’ Correa said. ‘Take him to the elders.’

Soon, they pushed Nunez through a doorway and into a very dark room. At the far side, there was a fire. The crowd came in behind Nunez. Suddenly, Nunez fell over someone’s legs and landed on some people.

‘I fell down,’ he said, `because I cannot see well in this room.’ He tried to stand again, but he couldn’t. Strong hands held him down.

`He stumbles because he is newly-made,’ said Correa. Others spoke too, but Nunez couldn’t understand them.

`May I sit up?’ Nunez asked. `I won’t struggle.’

The people agreed and Nunez sat up.

Chapter 5 of H. G. Wells’s classic Country of the Blind

Nunez greeted the men and watched them closely.

`Where does he come from?’ one man asked another.

`Down from the rocks…’ the second man replied.

`I came from over the mountain,’ Nunez told them. ‘In my country, all men can see. My city is near Bogota. There are thousands of people there. The city stretches far out of sight…’

`Sight?’ said the first man. `What is sight?’

`He came,’ said the third man, `out of the rocks.’

They moved towards Nunez, their arms out stretched. Nunez stepped away.

`Come here,’ said the third man and held Nunez. The blind men felt Nunez all over.

`Careful!’ cried Nunez when one of their fingers found his eye. This organ was strange to them. They felt it again and again.

‘A strange creature,’ said the second man. `Feel his hair! It is like llama hair!’

‘He feels hard and rough, just like the rocks he came from,’ said the first man and felt Nunez’s chin. Nunez tried to get free, but they held him firm.

`Careful,’ said Nunez again.

`He speaks, so he is certainly a man. Tell me again. Where did you come from?’ the second man asked.

‘I came from a place over there,’ said Nunez, and he pointed to the mountains. But the three blind men did not look. `I walked over the glacier, about twelve days journey from here.’

The men seemed not to hear him. `This is a marvellous occasion,’ said the second man. `The old men told us stories about men from the rocks…’

`Let us take him to the elders,’ said the third man and the three men tried to take Nunez’s hand. Nunez pulled his hand away. `I can see,’ he said, but then he stumbled into one of the men’s pails.

`His senses are not good,’ said the second man. `He stumbles and uses strange words. We must lead him by the hand.’ The men took Nunez’s hand, and Nunez let them.

‘They know nothing about sight,’ thought Nunez. ‘But in time, I will teach them.’

Our adaptation of H. G. Wells’s Country of the Blind (Ch4)

Along a path in the valley below, Nunez saw three men. The men walked slowly in line, one next to the other. Their clothes were made of llama wool. On their heads, they wore black hats; and in their hands, they had pails. Nunez was happy to see the men. He stood on a rock and shouted. His voice echoed around the valley.

The three men stopped and looked around. They looked left and right. ‘Up here!’ Nunez shouted and waved, but the men did not see him. The men walked this way and that, but they still did not see Nunez. `The fools must be blind,’ Nunez said angrily. ‘What’s the matter with them?’

Finally, Nunez decided to go to the three men. He climbed down and came towards the small group.

The three men stood side by side; their ears directed at him, not looking at him, listening to his steps. They looked a little afraid. Nunez could not see their eyes; they were closed and sunk deep in their heads.

‘There is a man,’ one of the men said. ‘It is a man, and he is coming down from the mountain.’

Nunez walked towards them confidently. Now he understood: the men were blind. Nunez remembered all the old stories about The Country of the Blind, and he thought about an old proverb from long ago.

`In the Country of the Blind – the one-eyed man is king.’

Chapter 3 of H.G.Wells’s classic story The Country of the Blind

Nunez was a mountaineer. He was also a sailor, but he liked to climb the most. He was a good climber, and he was in Ecuador to climb Parascotopetl, the ‘Matterhorn of the Andes’. On the way to the top of Parascotopetl, Nunez had an accident and fell. He fell down the east of Parascotopetl and landed in deep snow. His companions searched hard but could not find him. After some time, they gave up: they believed Nunez was dead. But Nunez survived.

Nunez fell over a thousand feet down an icy slope. He did not break a single bone. But when he landed, he lay unconscious for a while. When Nunez eventually opened his eyes, he saw a valley far below. There were many trees, and he saw small, stone houses too. He did not know it, but it was the Country of the Blind. He stood up. His bones and muscles ached from the fall, but slowly he started to climb down towards the valley. On the way, he saw many beautiful flowers and crops in the valley’s fields. He also saw llamas and huts to keep them in. After a long climb, he reached the houses. They were small with no windows. The houses were covered with a brown, muddy plaster. It was thick and untidy.

‘The man who put on that plaster,’ Nunez thought, ‘must be blind.’

He kept on walking; and soon, he saw some woman and children.

At last, he felt safe.

eflshorts.com

Adaptation of H.G. Wells’s classic short story: The Country of the Blind (Ch2)

After some time, the world forgot about the people in the valley.

But the valley people did not worry. Life there was easy: the valley had no dangerous insects or dangerous animals. Instead, it was full of useful plants, clean water, and gentle llamas.

The valley people also did not worry much about becoming blind. It happened slowly. At first, the old people lost their eyesight; then the not so old. Soon, every newborn child was born blind. And when sight finally died out, the valley people lived on. They did not need their eyes to make a fire, to cook, or to move around. The valley was their home, and they knew every part of it. Generation after generation lived without the use of their eyes. They forgot many things but learned many others. Decades passed. The valley people were happy. Then a stranger came to the valley – a man from the outside world, a mountaineer.

His arrival changed everything.

eflshorts.com

New adaptation: H. G. Wells’s classic short story The Country of the Blind (Ch1)

Three hundred miles from Chimborazo and one hundred miles from the snow of Cotopaxi – deep in Ecuador’s Andes Mountains – there is a green valley. Most men do not know about it – it is a mystery. But the valley has a name, and its name is The Country of the Blind. Many years ago, the valley was open and many people went there: the sad, the hungry, and the poor. They went there because they wanted to escape difficult lives in their own countries. So they climbed over the steep slopes and icy glaciers of the Andes and settled in that beautiful place. Then, years later, an earthquake caused a landslide. Mud and rocks came down the side of a mountain and cut off the path to The Country of The Blind forever.

But one man knew about The Country of the Blind because he lived there. When the landslide happened, he was on one side and his family and The Country of the Blind was on the other. After the mud and rocks tumbled down and blocked the path, he never saw his family or the valley again.

He had a story and told everyone. And everyone who heard his tale never forgot it.

The valley, he said, had everything: sweet water, green grass and a warm climate. It had healthy brown soil and trees with fruit; rivers fed the valley from the glacier and helped grow the crops. People and their animals prospered. But one thing happened to mar their happiness. A strange disease hit them – an illness no one understood or could explain.

All the children in the valley were born blind…

Adapted by EFLshorts.com

You can find the original story here.