Part VI: “Are we there yet?”

18

We reached the first stop in less than an hour while chatting, cracking jokes and getting to know each other and were constantly praising the weather — we were walking in a single line on a narrow path between bushes that would have turned into more if it was raining. After agreeing not to waste time at first stop, we continued up and reached the second rest level without any difficulties. Having quickly snacked on bananas and biscuits, we were eager to continue!



From then on I was more listening that talking — the path became narrower and the stones — bigger, — on those that were reaching higher than my knees I had to crawl on. From time to time I was stoping pretending to look back and snap a photo, but I es actually hoping to take a break, breath and feel a bit sorry for myself but without loosing face in front of my fellow adventurers! Soon we lost a couple from Austria — the girl felt sick because of altitude.

Since the third rest stop our guide slowed down a bit and were giving us more breaks (to my joy!), and so the Austrians could keep up with us, but am American triad was rushing restlessly up. At the end we decided to split — some of our guards would go with Austrians at their pace but the majority of them and the porters with food would continue with us.

At forth stop the air became much colder and big black clouds covered the sky — I took out thermo slacks and pulled them on hiding in a bush all the while my porter was trying to get to me :”Mam Irina, hungry? Banana? Water?” How lucky I was to get such a caring porter — whenever I sat down, he was rushing to me with a blanket to cover my shoulders and banana to keep my energy level up: -All good?
-Good, good,- I would nod with my mouth full, but thinking to myself :”what good? My callused big toe was screaming in pain (eventually it lost its nail!), I couldn’t feel my shoulders and my ears were itching because of the hat! Are we there yet? How long still to go to that bloody volcano?!”

But my porter would just not and smile while I was eating my banana — he reminded me of my grandma, who’s biggest pleasure was to see everyone eating — and the more we ate, the bigger her smile was getting!

As soon as I got comfortable — time to go! What were those Americans eating? Duracell? They never got tired!

Letting the hardy trio to go ahead of the group, I exchanged a sad smile with my German friend in woe, sighed, trailed behind them.

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