Part VII: “With endurance we conquer”

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Climbing Nyiragongo volcano wasn’t my first mountain climbing experience, but I had to confess — it’s not the physical part that worried me the most, but the moral — on high altitude and because of lack of oxygen, when it was difficult to walk and talk at the same time, all my thoughts were hiding somewhere, and minutes trying to find them and take them out, felt like eternity… I tried to remember and recite the poems we studied at school as kids, sing some pop songs and even think about the list of things to do when I get back — and failed royally! At the end, to keep my brain busy and distracted, I started counting rocks on my way: one rock, two rocks, three…



Thirty five, thirty six, thirty seven… the climb was getting steeper and steeper!

Sixty three, sixty four — Are we there yet?

Eighty seven, eighty eight…

-Oh my God! Wow! — suddenly I heard excited cries, and looking up, I’ve seen how one of the Americans quickly disappeared behind a rock. “What’s there? Did we really get there?” — I couldn’t believe it.

-Oh Lord! That’s something! — another American iron man caught up with the first.

Suddenly, as in a dream, the adrenaline rush filled my body and as a bird I took wing for the summit — that moment I could even compete with Bolt himself! Grasping on rocks, pulling myself up, crawling on — any possible trick just to get to the top and see what was hiding behind it!

Wow! Amazing, incredible, breathtaking, out of this world! Was I really seeing what I was seeing? How was is it even possibly to describe what I felt that moment? Just imagine: you were standing on the edge of an active volcano and looking down at an open crater where lava is boiling and bubbling like a thick and creamy tomato soup, occasionally throwing little trickles up in the air with a hissing sound…

By nightfall Austrians caught up with us, and our guides called us to get down to the camp for dinner but, noticing how captivated we were by Nyiragongo’s magic, they decided to instal a bench close to its crater and set the Christmas dinner there. Thus we stayed until dawn, huddling together for warmth, hypnotized by volcano, sipping hot tea and quietly humming softly “All I want for Christmas is you”…

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