Relax your back, Angela. Use your butt. Keep breathing. Focus on the shade, looks only five hundred feet more. Damn- this is more difficult than I was expecting.
My sweat had become slimy and my glasses were falling off my nose. All I could see was up, up, up. I kept peeking ahead and around the corners to try and catch a glimpse of a motivational peak that would tell me this climb would be ending soon.
And I knew, that because I was on foot, downhill is just as challenging but at least the summit would offer a break from pushing my hundred pound cart tediously uphill.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into. When I saw the signs pointing left for the tunnel and right to the mountain pass my thought was, I'm not walking the world to see a tunnel. Besides, Hai Van Pass has been listed as one of the most beautiful unspoiled roads in Vietnam. There are plenty of places that I would love to see along my walk that are literally just a few miles away, like some of the world's largest caves with their own ecosystems, but the distance, extra cost of food, water sources and terrain usually inspire me to stay on course.
I stood at the crossroad, scratching my chin like I had a growing beard and pretending I was deciding, but I knew- I'm going up and over that mountain.
As I stopped under the shade of a tree hoping it would bring some relief from the humid jungle, a sound took shape, sharper than the clatter of all the mopeds passing me. A woman's voice dripping over the deluge of flora and fauna. I took a closer look at all 360 degrees around me. It wasn't till I looked upwards that I saw a round, hearty woman calling me towards her with an encouraging smile. I wasn't sure she was directing her cheer at me but I needed it, so I took it.
I pushed my glasses up my nose, inhaled a mixture of fresh mountain air with hints of exhaust fumes, shifted my soaked and useless bra, and continued higher into the mist. As I got closer to where she stood, near the peek of that sixteen hundred foot incline, she began clapping, which although called too much attention for my liking, allowed us to share in the revelry of a small victory.
What happened at the top of that misty mountain, in her tin shack, changed everything.
And so not to spoil a good story, I will wait to share what happened and the changes that have taken place in a short piece I wrote for SGR. It will be published in early April and I'll email you that link shortly.
For now, I can tell you that I found clarity and conviction in my calling since I've last written to you. I've journeyed through guilt for wanting what I want, for desiring solitude and fearing change.
I was catapulted, quite painfully, through an experience of feeling alive while being riddled with a sickness and gaining clarity and deeper meaning through it.
Out of the darkness of disease, comes a new life; a new way of being. In this case, how I walk my walk.
I had drwan a straight line around a circular shape. Reasonable. Practical. Doable.
But not where my heart was inviting me. Was I being committed or stubborn?
A hint: My new mantra; Fuck a straight line.
I'll share the details with you in a few weeks.
Know that I am safe, have recovered from my debilitating but inspiring sick episode and will be pushing my SPOT locator beacon shortly. I am in Hanoi (Vietnam) and haven't pressed that button since I have been in one place recovering.
Be in touch shortly!
Thank you for your faith and support in me. It goes a long way. Carries me around the world, in fact!