Tyson: Rwandan walk of shame

Published: December 11th 2012
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moments before giving up and going home...
Today Anne climbed a volcano and I received an armed escort out of the park.

After arriving at the Volcano National Park and conducting a brief meet-and-greet with the guides and 5 other hike-mates we set off to the base of Bisoke. On the way we were treated to an extensive Rwandan massage (getting repeatedly tossed out of our seats) and joked about how small the volcano was in relation to Kilimanjaro.

We joined up with our armed escort (for protection from the 'wildlife'😉 and set off at a rocket-like pace. After the first hill, I was breathing heavily and shortly thereafter regreted making fun of Bisoke's height. When we stopped for our first 'break' we had been climbing for about 1.5 - 2.0 hours with myself and another woman from the UK (coincidently another engineer) falling ever further behind. Apparently Anne never heard the saying 'leave no one behind'.

The 'path' was little more than a mud-banked stream and everytime I would briefly stop to catch my breath the guard behind me would say "almost there" - I question his knowledge of the english language. Approximately 30 minutes after our break and after struggling over a particularly nasty mud 'staircase', the guide appeared with some words of encouragement: "At this pace, you will not make the summit." Due to the altitude induced haze, I staggered along for another 10 minutes before fully processing what the guide had told me. It was at this point that I proudly told the porters that I was done and wanted to go home. They conversed amongst themselves deciding who will escort me, referred to as 'silly tourist', out of the park. I got bored waiting, started my descent and was quickly joined by two Rwandan soldiers.

Getting back to the vehicle gave me plenty of time to make friends with the locals. I was quickly approached by a friendly boy of about 14 who had many questions regarding who I was and where I came from. We actually exchanged email addresses and I look forward to convincing him to hunt down that Nigerian prince that owes me money. After our conversation ended, I was approached by an angrier looking boy, who proceeded to ask me about my parents. He told me he was an orphan after his parents were killed by soldiers and he is now forced to take care of his 5 brothers and sisters. I wasn't sure what to say, so I said I'm sorry to hear that and offered him a maple syrup candy for him and his siblings.

After doing my good deed for the day, I decided to take a much deserved rest on the floor of the jeep, safely out of view. After about 5 hours the hikers returned where I learned my fellow slow-poke was able to reach the summit afterall. Dang...


11th December 2012

Not a wuss
Don't feel bad, Tyson. I've been to places high above sea level -- highest I think was Puno (Peru) at around 3,860 m. It takes a few days to get acclimatized, and people react differently too. My friend didn't make it up the Andes cause she passed out along the way! Maybe you knew when to quit. Better that than falling ill of exhaustion (especially considering where you are right now). I often find that chatting with the locals is one of the best parts of my trip... something I remember for a long time. You may end up considering yourself lucky. :)
12th December 2012

Too bad you didn't make it to the top but you got to schmooze with the locals!! Rest up and drink/eat lots to get ready for Kili! Don't forget to take your Diamox! "You can do it"!! Love you!

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