In 2014 I made this journey that I regard as one of the most spirited journeys I have ever made. As my work literally involves traveling and discovering, to me, new parts of the world, I still had not experienced the tools that my trip in 2014 gave me.
I went on a month long holiday to south America. Backpacking through Panama and Colombia by myself. For many it may seem like a risky thing to do. A young female alone going cross countries, countries somewhat unknown or even to some considered as rather dangerous. But I was looking for the adventure and the beauty that those countries had to offer. I didn’t have a fixed plan of where I wanted to go or when, I did have some highlights I did not want to miss. And one of them was climbing Volcán Barú.
My itinerary before heading for the volcano had changed as I had met 2 other female travellers who I joined. But after a few days together I decided it was time for me to change course and head up north. Our last night together we went out and to be honest I had a little too many drinks to compensate for the lack of external party buzz there was in that particular town that evening. My first regret of the abundance of alcohol in my system came when we had an early morning surf lesson the next day, just hours before I was supposed to catch my bus to Boquete. As you can imagine I did not perform all too well, we all three didn’t to be fair. One of us even fed the fish with her stomach contents while struggling to stay on the surf board. Or was that me….? Secondly was the long drive up north in a mini bus packed with other backpackers, seats not comfortable and temperature alternating from boiling hot to freezing cold. And the third and last regret of having consumed that much alcohol was when, totally voluntarily, after only 3hrs of sleep in my hostel bed, I had to wake up at 22h30 to embark on my new adventure.
But I powered through. I showered, packed my backpack with the provisions I managed to buy earlier that day upon arrival in Boquete, dressed up warm in layers, a scarf, raincoat, head torch and gloves. At midnight the randomly combined group of hikers and tourists including me were dropped off at the bottom of the volcano. Our driver wished us well and drove off. In that moment, pitch dark, I asked myself what the hell I got myself into. The desk clerk at the hostel had told me that the climb was doable, but that there were people who had turned around crying because they could not complete it. That they had broken down because it was too hard for them. My first reaction was fear and self doubt. But gradually my excitement grew and I was curious to see if he was telling the truth or if he was just trying to scare me for the fun of it. And if he was telling the truth, how strong was I? Mentally and Physically? Would I be one of those people who would turn around and walk away in defeat?
Standing at that bottom, and being the only one that came alone, I told myself, I can do this, I will do this!
People started to hike and I found myself joining two individuals that were relatives, uncle and niece. Profoundly to me, the niece reminded me of India Arie, as I consider her a beautiful Soul whose songs I can deeply relate to.
Damn what had I done. It was pitch dark, really dark, there was not even the slightest light from the village or town down below. The only light there was, was the one attached to our heads, and focussed on the ground before us. And even worse, there was no real path. Well, the path that was there was was uneven, slippery as hell, filled with loose rocks and sand and one had to zig zag their way into finding the best underground to place their next step.
Just hang on, this story is leading somewhere….
This first couple I joined proved to be one that I had to leave behind. The male could not help himself but to keep on repeating how hard it was, how cold it was, how dark it was and how he wanted to turn around and return to the hostel. As I was trying to make my way up, I started to feel the weight of his words and energy. It started to penetrate through that wall that I had built, shielding off my physical pain, my fear, my lack of security and even that hangover. In that moment I felt that I was not strong enough to hold back that external source that was feeding its way through my energy. Blessed that I was this Irish couple passed us and I asked them if I could join them. They accepted me and as I said goodbye to the relatives I said goodby to the negative energy that was slowly destroying me.
The second couple was from a total different kind. Their pace was much faster, their whole energy was so much more uplifting. They had a schedule and a clear plan of how they were going to fulfill the goal of reaching the top before sunrise. Cause that was the whole point of starting the hike in the dead of the night. So that once you completed, you were rewarded with the rays of light and warmth from the sun. And the amazing view over the mountains and both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Every now and then we would alternate with who would lead our small group of achievers at the front and who would lead from the back. Every hour we would stop for no longer than 10 minutes to catch our breath and refuel our bodies. And damn how did I experience my body on a totally different level. Every time of refuelling I would literally feel the new energy flowing through my body and giving me the much needed power for the next 60 minutes. And my mind…it blew me away. As from the first few meters and during my time with the first couple I wanted to quit. I thought fuck it, let me be that person. Who cares, I am going to quit. Back to the hostel and back to that warm and cosy bed. But I did not. I managed to experience the true meaning of Mind over Body. What kept me going was the prize. I wanted to see, feel, taste, hear, totally experience that view. I wanted to succeed, I wanted to conquer this volcano. And more so, I wanted to conquer Me!
And I did, every step I took, I remembered myself why I was doing it. I kept singing positive songs to myself in my head. I was literally saying to my self, one step at a time, and there goes another one….you can do this, you got this! And I did. Wow…
By the time I reached the top I was freezing. Both from the cold, the rain and my own sweat that couldn’t evaporate and had gotten cold. I was empty, I had given my all. But that reward of making it to the top was worth everything I had to endure those past 5,5hrs! There were some clouds, not all the mountains were clear to see nor were the two oceans. But I didn’t care. Although it was not as I had seen in pictures. I loved every bit of the view that lay before me and I was Grateful! I was Grateful that on that day, that hike had brought me on a journey to a view of myself that I had not yet experienced in that awareness.
Through this experience I learned that we all walk our own path at our own pace. Cause although the first couple did not make it till a little later, they made it. They might have missed the whole sunrise at the top, but on their way up they encountered other beautiful things that I did not. I learned that every accomplishment, big or small starts with one step. And is then followed by many more untill the goal is reached. I learned that through positive affirmations I could alter my mind and control my body in doing that, that I wanted it to do. I learned that the Believe system within me is Beautiful and very strong.
And I learned that I would use this Volcano whenever I faced obstacles that at first seemed impossible or unbearable.