by Jane Moneypenny
Against all odds, I made it.
Okay, I made it most of the way; my body just refused the last 4 hours. Of course, I’m devastated, but this was out of my control, so there is nothing to do but be proud of how far I got. No one (and I mean NO ONE) believed I could do it, but strangely enough, I never doubted myself. Through all the pain, exhaustion and fear, I never lost faith. Maybe there really is an underlining confidence I never realized existed. Whatever it was that kept pushing me forward is something I need to always remember. Maybe the years of heartbreak made hiking a mountain a realm of possibility.
There were moments when I thought I couldn’t put another foot forward, times when I just wanted to collapse from exhaustion and pain. I hiked most of Kilimanjaro alone, at my slow slow pace, absorbing the scenery and thoughts of life. Anytime my mind tried to wander to something pleasant like my favorite beach on Naxos, happy moments with Pen or a delicious steak dinner, the thoughts would snap away, as if the memories never existed. Left, right, left, right. That’s all that would stick. All of the guides or porters were worried, mumbling among themselves if I could do it and at the end of each day, I proved them wrong until the main guide even admitted I was strong.
But on summit night, I felt anything but strong. Severe acute mountain sickness is nothing to joke about, but mentally, I wanted to keep pushing. It’s not a failure, of course, and I have to remind myself WHY I did this challenge in the first place: to learn to not be so hard of myself all the time, to learn to be proud of where I am and what I’ve done.
I came home to the bad news that my aunt had ovarian cancer. Other than that devastating news, I don’t feel anything different. I thought I would return, free of past guilts, feelings towards Pen, and ready to start a new chapter of my life. But life is life and when I return to work Monday, things will be back to normal. Sigh.
More on the amazing safari and Africa in general soon!