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.