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 a cold shower for at least 15 min to wash off the dirtiness of 6 days of -glory- hiking, and going back to your daily life routine.

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.

Me on the summit of Mt. KilimanjaroMe on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro by Christina Wichert

Nothing Really Matters

After spending 6 days on the mountain when the only things you own up there are; hiking gear, warm clothes, 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 enjoy it and feel grateful for finding something to fill up your empty stomach; no matter how many days you are staying on the mountain, without any complaining you manage to fit in clothing and hiking gear in a 60L backpack or duffel bag if not smaller; 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.
Our dormitory & our stuff at Horombo huts by Passainte AssemOur dormitory & our stuff at Horombo huts by Passainte Assem

Mixed-Up Feelings

I distinctly remember that a day before the summit 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, I 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 homesick, I suddenly felt so empty, so void, so small, 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.
Alpine Desert of Mt. Kilimanjaro courtesy of Passainte AssemAlpine Desert on Mt. Kilimanjaro by Passainte Assem

Feelings Of Appreciation

You start to value the little things in life that you take for granted like;
  • words of support,
  • a chitchat with your best friend,
  • a dinner with your family,
  • a small gathering of your friends,
  • owning a mobile phone or a car even if it’s not the trendiest nor the fanciest,
  • the luxury to eat whenever you want whatever you please,
  • the luxury to surf the internet, and get everything done with a click,
  • having a seated toilet,
  • hot water
  • a shower

You realize that you don’t need to go shopping anymore,  but to be happy & grateful instead for the bazillions of stuff that you already own -if you do not already feel like giving half of them to charity.

 Clutter via flickr by Unnar Ýmir BjörnssonClutter via flickr by Unnar Ýmir Björnsson

Lessons Learned

Being on the mountain might have been the best time of my life & the roughest too, I enjoyed every single bit of it, because the feeling of achievement is priceless & well deserved.
It taught me how our thoughts could make or break us, how far we can push ourselves to achieve greatness; as anything in life even trekking a mountain is purely a mental challenge, that pushes us forward to persevere the physical one.
It took me a leap of faith to embark on such a journey, that showed me how far  I can go, and gave me a lifetime lesson;
We are not victims of our own circumstances, we choose what we want to be, anything can be achieved with hard-work, perseverance & determination, even if it’s as big as quitting a career you don’t belong to to another that you are passionate about.
So here’s to a new beginning, a new chapter in my life where I went up Kilimanjaro a legal researcher, and came down a travel writer.