Back From The Mountain To Urban Life

Our last day on Mount Kilimanjaro might have been the toughest, not because we were already drained out of energy, but because this is when you start having an inner struggle that urges you to go back to urban life in order to realize your wildest dream -NOT exaggerating- of; sitting on a seated toilet rather than squatting to answer the call of nature in a stinky hole; enjoying a hot, or even cold shower for at least 15 min to wash off the dirtiness of 6 days of glory; and going back to your daily life, mixed with an inside voice that tells you “Who wants to go back to our complicated life?” in which when we are lucky to have a home to shelter us we complain that it is too small; when we buy a new car we wish it was fancier; when we have a job we wish we earned more money; when we go shopping we wish we had more funds to purchase more items; and the list goes on, and on.
After spending 6 days on the mountain when the only things that you own up there are; hiking gear & clothing, water containers, head-torch, energy bars, poles, a camera and a most of the time network-less phone, you realize how we humans can be greedy and too demanding. On the mountain, life is far less complicated; on your first day you eat what you are served, be it tasteless, or not your favorite type of food you just eat it because you are hungry and not having the luxury to choose, on your second day you don’t just eat it, you also enjoy it and feel very grateful for finding something to fill up your empty stomach; you manage to fit in clothing and hiking gear in a 60L backpack or duffel bag if not smaller, no matter how long you are staying without any complaining; you pee in the wild; poop in a shit hole; dress in very basic clothing pretty far from even matching because what matters is comfort, convenience and practicality.
I remember that a day before the peak day, after a 6 hours hike in fairly steep Alpine Desert, I arrived at our camp exhausted with a headache and hazy eyes, not sure if climbing Kilimanjaro was the right thing to do, lied on my bed, hugged my knees and started crying like a baby, I don’t know what this crying was all about? Was it due to altitude sickness that could have caused depression? or something else? It wasn’t that I was missing luxury, or feeling home sick, I suddenly felt so empty and void, tired, alone and scared, how I was longing for a hug, for someone to pat on my shoulder and tell me “Come here, I know how tired you are, but you’re doing so well. Don’t worry everything will be alright, you can make it to the peak”, how I wanted to share those very moments with a loved one, but none of this existed, not on Kilimanjaro or back home. No shoulder to cry on nor someone to wipe off my tears, no one to understand how exactly I feel, and push me to carry on.
You start to value the little things in life that you take for granted; words of support, a chitchat with your best friend, a dinner with your family, a small gathering with your friends, owning a car even if it’s not the trendiest nor the fanciest, having the luxury to eat whenever you want whatever you please, having the luxury to surf the internet, owning a mobile phone, having a seated toilet, hot water and a shower, you realize that you don’t need to go shopping anymore and maybe starting to be happy & grateful for the bazillions of stuff that you already have, if you do not already feel like giving half of them to charity.
Yeah I loved being on the mountain, enjoyed every bit of it, the feeling of achievement, learned a lot about how our thoughts can destroy us because anything in life even trekking a mountain is purely a mental challenge, looking at the magnitude of such an adventure you realize how vulnerable we humans are compared to God’s greatness, learned a lot about how far I can push myself, my capabilities, perseverance and persistence, no wonder why our group leader used to call me “Strong Woman”, it took me a leap of faith to embark on such a journey, but this kind of adventures teach us a lot about ourselves, and give us lifetime lessons, and it was about time to go back to apply those lessons in real life.

Mount Toubkal A Year After

I distinctly remember how I felt when I made it to the base camp, how I walked for over an hour or two while suffering from an intense cramp in my right thigh that made my pace super slow, and how I felt horrified being taught how to use an ice axe! Is falling even an option? I already fear heights, and have difficulties to look down. I decided that I will give up, and won’t continue the journey with my fellow hikers to the top, enough suffering I did the best I could yet my legs are not being of great support, and altitude sickness is slowly getting its toll on me.


Mount Toubkal’s Base Camp by Kamil Fibak

But you somehow sensed how I wasn’t ok, you came to talk to me, and I with tears filling my eyes told you “I don’t think I can make it, I am not ok, it’s harder than Mt. Kilimanjaro, and I am not as fit”, you told me with total understanding “it’s alright if you don’t want to continue, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s not harder than Kili -though I still believe it is-, we humans as soon as our suffering ends we tend to forget how it was like, however bad things happen, and I myself almost give up on the way down from Everest, all you need is to rest, eat, put on warm clothes, and some cream on the cramped muscle, & then wake up the next morning, have breakfast with the group, and decide whether you want to continue or not”.

I woke up the next morning refreshed -though not totally recovered-, but I just couldn’t wait to kick the mountain’s ass, I couldn’t handle the idea of giving up without even trying.


Hiker on Mount Toubkal by Peter Makholm

I was one of the last hikers in the group, but I kept going slowly but surely, stopping to rest every now and then, I saw one hell of a slope, pointed at it, and asked Samir my guardian angel, the guide who was accompanying me “should we follow this trail” he said “yes”, I cried in disbelief while hitting my poles to the ground, looking downwards and said “NOOOO”, he patted on my shoulder and said “it’s ok, next time”, I cried even harder and said “there’s no next time, I have to make it this time”, I wiped off my tears, continued walking until I almost finished the 1st slope, and started seeing some of the people in my group that I haven’t seen for quite a long time a bit faraway.

Believe you can and you’re halfway there. – Theodore Roosevelt

I even outran one of them who was dehydrated, and totally drained, I gave him one of my water bottles and shared some snacks, while trying to push him to continue -that moment when you encourage someone while you are the one who needs it most- I tried to keep him close as much as possible until the guide told me it was bad for me to slow my pace, I asked him to stay with him as I am in a much better state, he said that someone will come to give him a hand.

We continued until I could see with my naked eyes that I’m getting closer to the group, few of them were resting, too exhausted to keep moving, they were getting closer to the peak, encouraging me with their hand signs telling me that I did well, and to keep moving, or shouting me “Bravo Passainte you are doing very well, keep going, you’re almost there”. I encouraged those who were resting, and asked Samir to stay with them as they needed him more than I do, seeing the peak has given me energy that I have no idea where it came from.


Me on the summit of Mount Toubkal

And the moment I reached the summit you were waiting for me out there with arms wide open, and a big “I’m proud of you” smile, I let go of my rented ice-axe and hiking poles, cried and cried and cried, tears were falling uncontrollably just like a pissing cow, you patted on my back while saying “Bravo Passainte, you made it”. I asked you: “did you believe in me? did you think I’d make it?”, while keeping a big from ear to ear smile you confidently answered: “the moment you finished the first slope, I knew you’d make it”. It was a proud moment where I wondered how could I have possibly thought of quitting? Do I have complete control over my mind, or does it control me? I found out that I’m bigger than any challenge, if only I believed in myself, and got rid of all negative thoughts that poison my mind, and influence my body & soul.

You can’t win physically, if you are losing mentally. – Billy Cox

Well, you were not just a chief who’s on duty to lead a group of hikers to the top of a mountain, or the owner of a company who’s seeking a returning customer, but a human-being who totally understands the fears, and needs of mountain-hikers. So if you saw someone; with unfastened shoelaces you’d warn him/her, not wearing sun-shades risking to get snow-blind you’d happily insist on giving him/her your own sunglasses, not wearing the appropriate clothing you’d ask him/her to change. And these are the characteristics of a leader who cares about every single person in the group, keen to provide his people with an unforgettable experience, and have as many people reaching the peak.

One year after I summited Mt. Toubkal, I’d like to tell you THANK YOU!

10 Brilliant Ways Traveling Will Heal You


Thought Catalog

Flickr / Basheer TomeFlickr / Basheer Tome

While Traveling may seem like something that comes at an exorbitant price, it’s not true. Traveling can mean going to the closest city; making a trip to the countryside that you drive by having never stopped to soak in its sheer beauty.

Innumerable travel books will give you tips on how to travel to gorgeous places on a shoe string budget. But, embark on a wanderlust journey I say…You owe it to yourself!

1. Breakaway

When you step out of the space you’ve been in day after day, you get out of the “mental blocks” too. The knots in your head begin to untangle. Suddenly, you don’t mind rolling down the windows to let in the fresh air on the highway; your stressed thoughts are slowly getting left behind. Whatever the weather, sunny or chilly- you feel the excitement and novelty of going somewhere for leisure…

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Freelance Writers Needed (Deadline Extended)

30 Destination Landing Pages Writers needed for an online website (Paid assignment)

I am looking for a travel writer to compile 30, 600 to700 word pages for an online travel website. Deadlines are very important to me as is quality of work (error free spelling, grammatically correct and original and imaginative articles are a win).

Successful applicants must be able to show examples of previous work, and write in a creative, engaging yet informative way, however avoid any clichés.

I enjoy writers who aren’t afraid to inject some humour into their writing; however this should not detract from the value the article is intended to give to the reader who we can assume is conducting serious research in the planning stage of their trip.

Writers will be required to do all their own research, however, I will be on hand to assist and direct throughout the project.

If interested, please send me samples of your work on by maximum June 14th, 2014.

Good Luck!

A Moment of Decisiveness

FINALLY at Gilman’s point -210m from Africa’s highest point; Uhuru Peak-, so what the fuss is all about? it seems that the peak is within reach, yeeeeeey I’m gonna make it to the top. Hell no, I just can’t take it anymore, every part of me aches so hard, maybe I should stop for a sip of water, or energy drink? no no how about a mouthful of the strongest energy bar & a pill to kill this horrible headache, oh damn it, now my stomach hurts so bad, and my head is spinning around, what on earth is wrong with me? is it altitude sickness that got its toll on me? should I stop now before it becomes lethal? but how can I give up now? why can I barely open my eyes, am I already dead? maybe all I need is to sit on that rock over there and relax, then resume what I came for…hmmm, remind me please, what was it?
Why are my gloves all wet, and how on earth did the minus something degrees celsius find its way through my wind breaker & my 6 layers of wool and thermals? Ouuuh, here’s a rock to sit on, some hazy people are moving around looking as drained out as I am, aren’t we after sunrise? how can it be so dark or are these my eyes that cannot open anymore? It doesn’t matter because I am gonna lean on that rock now…
baaaam I hit the floor hard.

Sounds of terrified people running towards me, lifting my paralyzed body before my head hits the ground, asking in worry: heeeeeey are you okay? are you conscious? what’s wrong? what happened?
– No, answer
Hitting me on the face, opening my mouth, and my eyes. Gluing my body to the big standing rock, supporting my body from the other side.
– No, response
In a deadly sleepy voice, not believing what I am about to say I responded: Don’t worry, I’m okay, I did not faint, I fell asleep.

A guy came with a can in his hand, looking for a tool to open it, poured some of its content in my mouth which turned out to be powdered glucose that tasted like red grapes, our guide Ismail asking me to tilt my head in order to help me drink some water to swallow the powder.
Ismail : Passanti, you scared me, I thought you fainted. Continuing: at this altitude you cannot sleep it’s too dangerous.
Me half conscious pleading, starting to cry: I couldn’t control myself, I literally fell asleep. Please, I’m so sleepy, I can’t open my eyes, haven’t slept for a minute last night; I’ll lie down for 10 minutes then resume the walking.
Ismail: Listen to me Passanti, so far you’ve done so well, and I’m proud of you, you’re a very strong woman but at this point I think that’s enough, you look so tired and I think we have to go back. I’m gonna give you a certificate, and…interrupted him in a decisive yet exhausted tone: No Ismail NO, I’m not gonna back down now, after all the effort done there is noway that I’ll go back without a trophy, without a photo at Uhuru peak, I will not accept going back telling everyone that I failed at reaching the peak, so whatever it takes I will finish that hike, i will make it to the top and take photos over there.
Ismail in disbelief: You cannot be hard on yourself, you can kill yourself and I am not gonna let you do that.
Me: Ismail I’m perfectly fine, all I need is some sleeping, if only you leave me here to sleep for five minutes I will be good to go.
Ismail: You can’t it’s dangerous and could be deadily. I’m gonna let you close your eyes for a couple of minutes, and then we will have to go. Less than 2 minutes later: Ok then, we have to go now, hold on to me until you make it to Uhuru.
Me: Please give me a hand & let’s make it to the peak.

My companion who did not show any emotions during the whole incident has told me after we finished the hike that at this very moment she thought that this is it, and that I will give up and it was time to go back, but after seeing my persistence and decisiveness she got all energized to finish that hike and make it to the peak, how awesome is that? 🙂