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While I was writing a post about the fear of traveling solo as a woman, all my scary travel experiences stories came back to my mind, all at once, loud and clear and I thought I should share them with you so that you can laugh about it with me.
I hope after reading this post you will realize that shit can happen and if it doesn’t kill us, it will make us stronger. 🙂
I confess I have always been blessed in my travels. Although I have my share of scary stories to tell, I have never been in extreme danger, ok except that one time in Ecuador (see below). However, I am very precautious and fearful so I keep very much attention to my surroundings.
Of course, there are pros and cons of traveling alone, but also of traveling with other people. There is no right or wrong.
Sometimes I am scared to travel alone as I fear that something might happen, and sometimes it does.
But I have always been fortunate to find complete strangers that were willing to help me out and I felt protected all the time. If I think about it, I feel really lucky and grateful. I just hope that by saying that the magic fairy dust won’t disappear. 🙂
I thought it would be nice to recollect all those scary and awkward travel episodes from my life journeys in this post to remind myself how lucky I have been and to show you that things can indeed happen when you travel but there is always a gift that comes out of it.
It would be ironic if once I publish this post, something really horrible happened to me. I would still believe that I had been lucky, though.
So without further ado, here below find my most remarkable travel experiences and stories that scared the heck out of me.
1. Diving in Turks and Caicos in very bad weather conditions
When I was working in Cancun I used to travel to the amazing Caribbean Islands, yes, for work, lucky me. I usually stayed over the weekend to take some time for myself and explore the island and when I could I would go diving.
I was a bit reluctant about diving in Turks and Caicos because it was outrageously expensive, but at that time I thought I should do it at least once in my lifetime.
Besides, Turks and Caicos is one of the most renowned diving destinations in the Caribbean and I didn’t want to miss it. So off we go. 160 USD for 2-tank dive. Jeez! That day the sea condition was not promising but when it started to get worse, I wasn’t worried because once we were underwater we were not affected.
However, after the first dive, the captain together with the diving guide decided to go back because it was getting too rough and it would have been difficult to get back into the boat if we had dived the second time.
While we were moving back towards the port, I was starting to feel dizzy and tingling all over my body. I told the guide and he gave me oxygen but it was getting worse.
I started to worry, so once we arrived the captain took me to the doctor. In the meantime, I was getting colder and colder. I explained what happened and the doctor, smartly, suggested I should take off my wetsuit and wear a dry hospital vest that he lent me.
He gave me a warm drink to relax and dehydrate and asked me to wait for an hour. I had very deep marks from the wetsuit that apparently was too tight.
So he suspected that it was the cause of all the symptoms. However, he said, if he was wrong, he would have to put me in the decompression chamber which would have cost 10.000 USD per day. I was about to collapse when I heard that.
And do you know why? Because the stupid me didn’t think about getting diving insurance. This was so wrong!
It didn’t even occur to me, honestly. Since then, I never dove or travel without my travel insurance.
2. The bumpy flight to Barbados
I was on a flight from Miami to Barbados where I would have visited all my hotel partners and discuss business matters. It was always a feast every time I was flying to Barbados because the people I was doing business with, were more like friends so I was excited to get there and spend a week with all of them.
Flying to Barbados from Cancun was a little complicated for the unfavorable connections in Miami, which required an early flight from Cancun and a long wait in MIA airport, arriving very late at night in Barbados.
However, it was all worth it. That time, though, the second leg of my trip was not as pleasant as usual.
Halfway to the destination the flight started to get bumpy until we heard a strong noise and the airplane nose dropped, I am not sure how much, but enough for me to think that it was THE END! I was sitting close to the front so I didn’t really notice the inclination.
But when I talked to other passengers who were in the back seats they told me it was absolutely terrifying. A very bad drop.
The lady on my side grabbed my arm shouting “My son! My son!!”
I asked her “what do you mean?”
And she said “I want to see my son again”
I reassured her that she would see him again, but I wasn’t completely sure myself.
However, I watched the flight attendant and they were acting as if it was the most normal thing, so after that natural feeling of pain in my stomach, I started to calm down.
The plane continue to shake for a while, or maybe it was a matter of a few seconds that felt like an eternity.
The captain eventually apologized and explained that we bumped (literally) into an air pocket and there was nothing to worry about.
I really thought it was the end of my journey and from then on my fear of flying has grown I reckon, but I won’t stop flying, just because of that episode.
It’s funny because I am a very fearful person but I remember trying to calm that lady down, trying to reassure her that it was nothing. And when she asked, “Aren’t you scared?” I replied: “Yes I am, but what can I do?”
3. When I heard that the same bus I took a few days before was crushed by a mudslide
I was in Chachapoyas, Perù , a beautiful and underrated colonial town in the heart of Peru, and a getaway to the Northern Peruvian Amazon.
I decided to go there on my way from Ecuador as it was one of the routes to reach Lima from the North, other than the coast. It was the rainy season and the roads were all muddy. I was with another girl on the bus and we arrived late at night in Jaen.
We decided to stay for the night because it felt too risky to travel in the evening and the busses stopped at a certain time. In fact, we would have had to get from Jaen to Bagua Grande and from there change again to Chachapoyas.
I thought it was much better to travel in the daylight. She didn’t agree but she wouldn’t go on her own so, to her discontent we decided to find a hotel and left the following morning to Chachapoyas directly from Jaen, safe and sound.
We didn’t really click and once we arrived at the destination we went separate ways. I enjoyed my time in Chachapoyas a city so full of history and with so many interesting sites to visit in the surroundings, both historical and natural. I talk about it in my guide to Chachapoyas.
During my stay, I talked to local people about the bad weather and how difficult it is to do tours with this muddy terrain.
During one conversation I was told that a bus coming from Bagua grande has been swiped away by a mudslide caused by the heavy rain.
I froze for a moment, thinking that it could have easily been the bus I took to get there. I remember how excited was at the spectacular views I got from the bus window, cliffs, canyons, rivers, a whole natural show.
I couldn’t help but think that the same magnificent and powerful nature that made me happy and excited to be there was the one that killed those people in that unfortunate van.
And it could have been me. We are really in the hands of destiny.
4. A dangerous night bus ride
Still, in Chachapoyas, Peru. After two weeks I finally decided to move on to my next destination, another underrated city, Cajamarca, a beautiful colonial city, full of history and cultural heritage, renowned for being the site where the Incas emperor Atahualpa was captured and killed.
I don’t like to take night busses, first of all because I can’t see anything, and I love to watch the landscape. But also because I consider it dangerous especially if the road conditions are not the best. However in this case I had no choice. The only busses to Cajamarca from Chachapoyas were in the night.
So I said a prayer and off I went.
I was a little worried but there was nothing I could do about it. The bus was almost empty and there was only one tourist who wasn’t very sociable. I was in my seat at the back trying in vain to get some sleep. I thought if I fall asleep, the journey will seem faster. Not a chance.
My thoughts and my eyes were on the road. It was pitch black, I couldn’t see anything but it was clear that we were on a mountain road, winding, narrow and steep, with unprotected cliffs on the side. On top of that in the middle of the night, it started raining and thundering.
And as if it was not enough, we would cross paths with other buses or cars coming from the opposite side, most of the time right on hairpin turns. Sometimes the bus needed to make some maneuverings around the hairpins.
I felt my heart pounding, and I started praying or talking to God, I don’t recall. At the same time I forced myself to remain calm and get some sleep, in vain of course.
Eventually, in an attempt to talk me into believing that everything was going to be all right, I thought that the bus driver was used to this kind of road and it was a joke for him to drive in these hostile conditions. It worked a little. But I could only relax once we saw the light and the roads became less rough.
It was a hell of a journey. I am still not sure if I was exaggerating my anxiety but I really thought I was in serious danger. I am happy I can now tell the story and laugh about my anxiety.
5. When I got sick in Cajamarca Peru…
It was my last night in Cajamarca. I had an amazing week, so packed with tours and pictures. I was so happy I managed to explore and become familiar with such an off the beaten path area of Perú, so beautiful and worth exploring. I went back to the hotel in the early night around 9 pm to pack and get ready for my ride to my next destination the following day.
As soon as I entered my room I had a sudden urge to reach for the bathroom.
But that would have been something relatively normal and I wouldn’t have been so worried if my body didn’t start shaking uncontrollably. I just couldn’t stop my body from shivering. I got really scared because I didn’t understand what it was. And I started to feel a headache that was getting stronger and stronger.
So I decided to go to the hospital and check what it was. I had travel insurance. So I was relieved that whatever the costs would have been I would have been covered. I asked the hotel manager what was the best hospital in town and I also warned her that I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.
If I didn’t get back in time to check out the following morning, she knew why and I would have paid for the following nights upon my return.
I get very scared when I get sick, especially when I don’t know where it comes from. You have to know that I normally use Homeopathy and biomagnetism instead of traditional medicine, but Homeopathy works in the long run and for biomagnetism, I would need a therapist that responds immediately which is not always the case. So I had to go to the hospital at that time.
I was the only patient that night, and the hospital felt like an abandoned building. But it looked very clean and modern.
They took my information and some blood for testing, while they immediately put me on a IV for liquids and a painkiller for the headache.
The blood test results told me that I was in full health.
So the doctor suggested that I was just dehydrated and kept me there all night for more liquid intake through IV. By the morning I felt like a new person, my headache was gone and I wasn’t shivering anymore.
The hospital bill was not excessive. So I went back to the hotel, finished packing, and reach the bus station, happy to get to my next destination in one piece. I didn’t know at that time that my issues were not over yet. something way bigger was waiting for me in my next destination.
6. …and I continued to get sick in Trujulio Perù
After recovering in Cajamarca, I was ready to hit the road and get to my next destination, Trujillo, an interesting city on the Peruvian coast. It was a day bus ride and I was sitting on the front top floor on a double-deck bus.
Such luxury. I had an incredible view and I enjoyed my bus ride to my next destination. I arrived at the Airbnb that I had previously booked.
It was a room in a beautiful artsy home with a lovely lady. After we introduced each other and she showed me the house, I went to sleep without dinner as there was nothing around where I could go. I didn’t mind and I planned to go grocery shopping the following day.
Not a chance.
I woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible headache, again. And a brown code, again! Damn! What the hell was it?
I waited for the following morning because I didn’t want to wake my host up and I didn’t know where to go hoping that my usual painkillers for the headache would work but that didn’t happen.
So in the morning, I ask her about the best hospital and off I went, again. Again they tested my blood but nothing abnormal came out of the results. The doctors didn’t understand what it was and kept rehydrating me and giving me strong medicines for the headache which, this time didn’t work. I stayed there under observation.
So boring. But the headache stayed with me. They gave me liters of hydrating drink while the IV kept flowing in my blood. I have never been so hydrated in my life, I think. After a few hours they sent me home, and my headache came with me.
In the following days, I was unstable, with fluctuating headaches and much weaker.
Since traditional medicine wasn’t working I turned to my biomagnetism therapist who tried to cure me from a distance. Too complicated to explain here but I do believe it’s possible.
Then my homeopathic doctor gave me some treatments that I managed to find. I didn’t know homeopathy is so common in Peru.
My other therapist suggested that it was all psychosomatic that I was just exhausted from traveling for almost two years no stop and that it was my body asking me to stop for a while. And so I did. As a matter of fact, I felt very weak indeed.
My headaches were becoming constant and I couldn’t bear it.
So after speaking with my host she allowed me to stay for 2 months in her house until I would have been able to get the rest I needed and carry on with my journey.
Although I was eager to move on to my next destination, in some way I was happy to be there doing nothing, except walking dogs and going to the supermarket for grocery shopping.
Eventually, when I recuperated I managed to do some tours in the nearby archeological sites and take some walks to the city center, which I didn’t find particularly exciting.
I wasn’t supposed to work on the blog either but I couldn’t help it. I have even found some yoga classes to attend and I felt like a local, knowing all my neighbors. But in the end, I couldn’t wait to leave and continue with my journey.
I never actually knew what I had but I believe I did the right thing to stay there and relax for a while. Unfortunately, when I went to my next destination in Huaraz, I felt sick again, but that time it was altitude sickness.
However, it made me decide to go back to Mexico instead of continuing my journey to South America. That is something that I am regretting a little, but I believe everything happens for a reason, an ultimately good one. A lot of good things happened when I went back in Mexico so I can’t really complain.
And South America is still there, maybe a bit damaged by COVID but I am sure I will be on the road again soon toward my long-time dream destination.
At the end of the day, I was happy to have my Travel Insurance because it made my convalescence less terrifying. I knew that, would that be some bad disease I would have been covered. Luckily it was not, but still.
7. Walking around Taxco
I have included this travel story because it shows that sometimes you find angels in disguise along your journey, random strangers that prevent you from having a scary story to tell.
I was visiting the beautiful Magic town of Taxco, Guerrero and as I love to wander around and getting lost, I ventured into one of the town’s winding roads, walking in search of a great angle where to take some photos of the pretty town.
You must know that Taxco is built on the slope of a mountain so all roads are steep and winding with narrow lanes connecting the main roads like a maze. That’s like an amusement park for me.
As I was walking on the main road, I stopped by the entrance of a lane, pondering on whether I should enter or not. A man came out of nowhere warning me not to go through that lane because there have been many assaults on that side of the town.
I felt very grateful and thanked him while I continued upwards on the steep main road. After about 500 mt, I thought I would turn into another lane but after a few steps, there was a street dog in the middle of the road staring at me with a threatening look.
I asked a lady that was passing by if she knew the dog and if he was dangerous. “The dog is fine, but I wouldn’t enter that lane if I were you.
There have been a few assaults lately. Where would you like to go?” I explained that I was just wandering around with no particular destination in mind but I was happy to go back to the center of Taxco. She invited me to go with her so she would show me a safer way.
So I went. We were chatting and she showed me where that dangerous lane was ending and told me that a friend of hers was assaulted and robbed right there.
It was the very same lane I wanted to enter at the beginning, where I met the men.
I felt really blessed and even if I already believed in angels that was the ultimate proof they do exist.
8. Chased by fierce street dogs in Mexico city Chapultepec park
OMG! Every time I think about it, I shiver. I had to go to the Italian Embassy in Mexico City to get a new passport because mine had been stolen.
When looking at the map, I realized that the Embassy offices were exactly close to where the Chapultepec park zone 3 started.
So I decided to take advantage of the location and just walk through the Chapultepec park on my way back toward the city center.
Little did I know that it was a very isolated area, and more, I was totally ignoring the possibility of very territorial street dogs attacking me.
On the contrary, I was more concerned about human assaults but I continue to walk, leaving my concerns at the back of my mind.
Suddenly I felt followed and when I turned I saw two dogs walking towards my direction accelerating their steps. I started to freak out.
My heart beating fast my leg shaking. I wasn’t sure what I could have done to avoid any possible attack. There were houses on one side of the road but they didn’t look inhabited.
I felt I was in serious danger as I heard their steps getting closer and closer. I didn’t want to look at them but I really didn’t know what to do until I saw God in the shape of a human being surrounded by angels, in the shapes of dogs.
Coming out of a side lane a young guy was walking something like 20 dogs on the leash.
I immediately called him and asked if I could walk with them and I explained what was happening. He smiled and without hesitation allowed me to blend into the fluffy group.
He explained that those street dogs are very dangerous because they are very protective of their territories. They live there and the people from those homes were feeding them so that they stay there and keep the area protected from burglars and thieves.
Very smart I thought but how can I get out of there? This boy was going up to a certain point and then going back. He suggested me that from there onwards it was safer, but that I should take some stones in my pocket and a wooden stick, just in case.
And so I did, I continued along the park toward my destination.
On the horizon, I was seeing people walking and riding their bikes so I wasn’t that isolated. But I felt some presence around me and when I turned around to the woods I saw eyes looking in my direction.
My legs started shaking, and my pace became faster and faster.
Luckily I reached a more populated part of the park. I saw a guy walking a dog and I started to talk and tell him what happened. It was a way for me to release all my tension.
However when the guy then offered me a ride, stating that I was still far away from my destination I refused. I didn’t want to switch from one peril to the other. So I kindly refused and went my own way.
After that, the surroundings looked more normal, with people on the street and no wild dogs around. My legs were still shaking until I arrived in Chapultepec park phase 1 and I could finally sit and take my breath.
9. When I blew up my tire while driving in Jamaica
I loved to drive around in Jamaica when I was living there. And every time I went back to work I would always rent a car and explore my favorite places. I was confident and fearless. Jamaica was home so, except for Kingston which I don’t know very well, all the rest was easy for me to drive around. That time I was driving from Kingston to Port Antonio on one of my favorite roads. Winding and in the middle of a lush tropical vegetation.
I was so confident that I was even careless, and that is where the accident happened.
That’s why I always say that a little bit of fear is good to keep you on the alert and stay focused on what you are doing.
If I was a little afraid and stayed focused, that accident wouldn’t have occurred. Instead, I was speaking on the phone while driving and was very distracted.
So, I drove into a curve without calculating the space accurately enough and I blew up my tire with a rock that was on the side of the road.
The loud noise provoked by the collision didn’t leave any doubts. I did mash up the tire. I pulled over and checked. “Facepalm”
What am I going to do right now!?!? OMG I should have learn how to change tires. (5 years have gone by since then and I still haven’t learned)
Another time an angel in disguise appeared. A guy came out from a home located just around the corner, and as any Jamaicans would have done, he stopped and asked if I needed help. Yes, please!! He kindly changed my tire and I was able to continue with my journey.
This time I was never been scared because I know very well what Jamaican hospitality and kind-heartedness are like but bad guys are everywhere, so I could have met one of them instead of my street angel.
I didn’t know what to do to thank him. I handed him 20 USD. He didn’t want them but I insisted. It was the least I could do, although he probably didn’t need my money. But it made me feel better.
10. Drunkards in Queretaro while I was photographing at night
I always felt safe walking around Queretaro historical center with my big camera. Even at night.
One night, though, while minding my own business taking some night photography with my tripod I was approached by two drunkards trying to convince me that I had to pay them in order to get permission to take pictures.
Of course, I know it wasn’t true, so I tried to ignore them. The road was full of people locals and tourists, but nobody seemed to care about what was happening.
So I had to get rid of them on my own. I stop doing what I was doing and started to walk faster, moving on to my next photography target.
It took a while to escape from their loud threats but I eventually managed to get far away, but they spoiled my inspiration and I stopped taking pictures. I was almost at the end anyway.
11. Scary walk around the Quilotoa crater in Ecuador
I believe among all my travel experiences stories this was the scariest one for me.
What people normally do is the so-called Quilotoa Loop which is a 3 days hike sleeping in local villages. I wasn’t comfortable doing it alone because I was scared to get lost, as usual.
However, I have heard that you can walk around the crater. It’s a long walk but not that difficult and super doable.
Since you can see the crater I thought I shouldn’t get lost there. Since I did the same thing on the Cuicocha lake and I had a blast I thought it would have been more or less the same even if a little more challenging.
So off I went. I left early morning, at 7 am, because I was told that it tends to rain in the afternoon and I didn’t want to be caught by a storm. I started my walk. It was very isolated but I didn’t really feel in danger.
As I was warned before, sometimes I found myself at a crossroads, the path on the right would be more challenging because more slippery and closer to the rim so I just took the left one and walked around the mountain, a little longer but safer.
I did about 1 third of the hike and I found myself in the middle at a place where there was supposed to be a little shop, where I could have asked for information.
But everything was closed. So I continued on a path that seemed the right one, circling around the crater. The problem was that it was getting super windy and the path was very narrow right on the rim with nothing to hang on to.
And the fact that nobody was in sight didn’t make me feel comfortable to continue.
I panicked a little bit but I thought that I could easily go back. I remembered the path and I didn’t think it wouldn’t be that difficult.
Something I didn’t consider though, was that on the way back the path was completely different and spots that I thought I was recognizing, I actually didn’t.
At one point I was sure it was not the path I took before. In fact, it was the one I have purposely avoided. But I was already in the middle of it and I could not turn back.
The path was getting narrower and slippery with sand.
I had nothing to hold on to on the bare mountainside. I couldn’t go back because I would have lost my balance.
I was stuck and felt stupid and I was scared to death that I would have slipped and fallen into the precipice. And nobody would have looked for me because I didn’t advise anyone that I was there. How could I have been so silly?
Anyhow, the only way to prevent any fall was to move forward while paying attention to my steps and at the same time do not vacillate because it would have been worse.
It was only 2 steps to reach a safer position, but just like on Kilimanjaro (you will read it later), 2 steps would have been enough to stumble and fall and die.
My legs were shaking and I was breathing heavily as if I had just run a marathon. I was also crying a bit. I didn’t really want to die there.
Ok, Isabella, let’s stay focused, I thought, stopped crying and get out of there. I put all my focus and energy into those steps and although I felt the sand slipping away from under my hiking boots, I felt quite stable.
Once I reached a safe position I felt so relieved and happy. But also proud of myself for keeping cool and not freaking out.
I managed to relax immediately until I found another crossroad. This time I wanted to circle around the mountain and I suddenly realized that I had downloaded the maps.me an application that works off line and sometimes indicates off-path trails. In fact, it worked and I found a better trail to get back to base.
However, I couldn’t help thinking that I could have used it all the way and avoided that terrible experience.
Anyway! that’s how I am, forgetful, clumsy, and slow-thinking, and yet I enjoy my adventurous solo trips.
12. Visiting the cave of snakes
I was on an amazing road trip around Yucatan visiting all the off-the-beaten-path places before selling my car and leaving for my endless journey around this globe. I had heard about this cave where snakes would come out from the top at night to eat the bats. If you know me, you know I am terrified by snakes, only the thought of seeing one freaks me out.
However, I was really curious to see this cave and I thought that being with guides I would have been protected. So off I went. I have yet to write about this adventure, but I am in a nutshell.
I arrived in the town and found the tour office and arranged the tour for the very same night. I was really scared as it was pitch dark when we entered the forest to reach the cave and our path was only lit by our torches. while entering the cave we already encountered a couple of small snakes, they were fake coral snakes (small and not poisonous) but different from what we were going to meet inside.
That was a welcome 🙂 I was really surprised to see how I managed to keep calm. But the worst had yet to come.
Once we entered the cave, to my dismay, I realized that the ceiling was very low, and in some parts, we had to crawl to move on. Considering that the snakes were hiding in the crates from the ceiling…, imagine my happiness to know that I might have had a snake peeking out on top of my head at any moment.
I was also scared to touch the walls in case one of those sneaky creatures decided to show up. I don’t remember how long the tour lasted, but I can tell you I couldn’t wait for it to end. It’s true that I was the only customer and I could have ended when I wanted.
However, I thought, since I was there, let’s not miss the highlights. At one point I saw one of those snakes, one of significant size, snapping a bat for his dinner. I started to hear a disheartening squeaking sound from the bat while he was trying to free himself from its predator.
Of course, I was on TEAM BAT, and I was cheering him up the entire time while looking at the tragic scene. Ultimately the snake realized that the bat was too big for him/her and let it go.
I was so relieved and altogether decided that such a happy ending could also mark the end of my tour. I believe I had seen enough. Unfortunately, I lost all the videos and pictures I took with my GoPro.
But trust me that was some scary adventure for anyone who doesn’t particularly love snakes so much.
13. When I found a surprise underneath my toilet seat
I was in Tanzania at a gorgeous Glamping site in the heart of Selous National Park, where my friend was the manager and was kind enough to invite me.
I was not staying in one of the beautiful luxury tents but in my friend’s cute room, with an external open bathroom, which I loved, by the way.
She warned me to look around for any wild animals before using the bathroom or the shower and so I did, being so afraid of snakes. Spiders are usually not so frightening and many times I have kindly walked a few of them out of a room. But this case was a little different.
One night my friend called me from the bathroom as she noticed something peaking out of the toilet seat. When we lifted it, we saw a huge tarantula as big as the palm of my hand.
Of course, I didn’t measure it, it’s approximate. But it was huge. I was breathless for a few seconds.
We decided not to use the toilet and give her space, and time to change her mind.
She left after a couple of days, but you can imagine my anxiety every time I needed to use the bathroom.
14. Snakes adventures during the hike to the Ciudad Perdida in Colombia
I had an amazing time during this hike to the Lost city in Colombia. It was not a difficult hike at all and at every campsite, we had rivers or lakes where to relax and swim. It was so beautiful I would do it over again.
There was one episode though, that freaked the hell out of me.
We were sleeping in bunk beds in an open space, which was also open to anything else, from the outdoors, like it was completely open, except for the roof. One night I heard an excruciating sound, like somebody shouting, that woke me up.
When I asked what it was about, I was told that somebody found a snake under a bed or in that area and killed it with a machete.
The snake was a poisonous one for the record. I was happy that I wasn’t the one who found it. But can you imagine how I have slept for the rest of the night?
15. Shenanigans on the Kilimanjaro hike
When I went to Tanzania it was also to volunteer and I managed to find an association where I thought I could do some good. It wasn’t like that but that’s a topic for another post.
Since school was ending a week before I planned, and I had some unexpected time to spare, I decided with my roommate that it was a great opportunity to hike Kilimanjaro.
Why not? With no training at all, we started to run around our neighborhood in Arusha where we lived, and do some exercises 3 weeks before, with the hope to get fit enough for our hike.
Everything went well, it was a sort of mystical adventure for me and actually for all of us, besides losing about 5 kg. 🙂
You can read the entire adventure in my post “Hiking the Kilimanjaro by accident“
However, there have been 2 episodes that scared the heck out of me.
The first one was during the second or third day, I don’t remember, exactly. It was a beautiful landscape and we needed to circle a spectacular valley walking by a cliff.
The path was narrow but not dangerous, and we could hang on to the rocky wall on one side. Until we got to a point where our support wall was reclining over the path which instead became narrower, leaving very limited space for us to pass.
“And now?” – I thought
The guide explained how to approach that passage. We had to “kiss the rock”, that’s to say hug it and make a long step onto the other side.
Easier said than done. It was one step, but if you failed that, you could fall into the precipice. My legs were shaking, but the guide was confident and tranquil and managed to make me feel comfortable. He kindly helped us one by one to safely walk onto the other side of the “hole”. And we happily continued on to our journey.
The second scary episode was at the apogee of the trip, the last hike to the top of the Kilimanjaro when we reached the Uhuru peak at 5,895 m.
It was a night hike and the most challenging one, for the altitude and for the steepness of the mountain trail, the cold, and the lack of oxygen.
I started to feel bad and I thought I had something wrong with my lungs. I was going to give up, but then something happened and I decided to continue, the pain disappeared and I successfully managed to reach the top with all my friends and travel companion.
It was such a joy and a sense of accomplishment that I burst into tears and couldn’t stop, for the emotional efforts.
I cried all the way from the stellar point to the Uhuru peak which was a pleasant walk in the snow. It wasn’t hard anymore at that point because the tougher part was over. Such a relief and at the same time a victory for my mind against my body and all my fears.
That’s why the feeling of fear is sometimes healthy because it’s a kind of warning but don’t let it take over and stop you from living amazing adventures. Sometimes it’s worth taking some risks. Just look inside your heart and listen to it.
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