Every morning we start our day by riding our bicycles 4kms from our hut to the school. It’s a total of 16kms every day on the bike, and it’s fast becoming my favourite part of the day. The ride takes us along the sandy path out of the village where we are greeted with hi-fives and shouts of “hellooo/bye-byeeee” from the village kids, around the foot of Dwarf Mountain and then past the seemingly endless salt farms on a red dirt road before reaching the school. This is a time which I use to reflect on the day before and the day ahead. It’s the peaceful 15 minutes of solitude which we introverts need to stay centred and I am grateful for it every day.
Yesterday we decided we would go to work an hour later than usual and attempt a ‘trek’ up Dwarf Mountain, so Koky arranged for a couple of local guides to accompany us and off we went. Now, generally when I hear the words ‘mountain trek’ it conjures up images of a well worn path and some stone steps to carry me to the summit. Not today…. Dwarf Mountain isn’t big – maybe 120 metres high at the summit – it is however covered in lush green tropical plants and vines, and it’s twin peaks frame the rising sun every morning when viewed from the village. We would soon learn that what it lacks in size however, it makes up for in density.
Within two minutes we were ducking and weaving our way through overgrown jungle vines, thorn bushes and being attacked by fire ants.
Note: In his infinite wisdom, Koky thought whilst we were jumping around brushing off these little red devil insects it would be a good time to yell out “Oh, guys, just keep your eyes out for land mines – we aren’t sure if this area has been swept but it should be fine”. Thanks, mate… Way to make us sweat less in the 30 degree morning sun…
Despite this, we pushed on through the jungle and up the steep incline. It was very much a case of three steps forward one step backwards, as the jungle would become impenetrable and we’d back track in search of an alternate route. It’s hot, humid and testing. We were determined to make it to the top though and kept fighting forward inch by inch. This is now conjuring up images of Gorillas in the Mist far more than the 1000 steps at Dandenong Mountain. It’s hot, sticky and itchy work, but there are no complaints. Only hysterical laughter and bewilderment as Koky rapidly translates what our “guides” are actually saying to one another… Lot’s of “Where are you? I can’t see where you went!” and “do you think the whites will make it? It looks tough!”… Eventually I guess they decided we could make it, or they just stopped caring, so we pushed on.
Upon finally reaching the summit we had to climb a tree to actually see the view, as the forrest canopy refused to open up enough to reward our sweat, cuts and ant bites. It didn’t matter. We had made it to the top by forging our own path and that felt more rewarding and fitting than any view could ever give us. For many I’m sure this was just a morning hike and a bit of a laugh… For me it was a hot and – at times – painful reminder to always take the road less travelled and push on despite adversity. A reminder which will no doubt come in handy over the next 12 months.When did you last decide to take the road less travelled and what did you learn?