Cotopaxi - the last hike
The coastal adventures came to an end. Three more weeks in Medellín, a brief encounter with what could have been the love of my life and then I leave Colombia.
Of Ecuador I know nothing. Still I visit. My days in Quito, the capital, are a mixture of rain and casual sex: boredom and bedroom. On the fourth day I towel dry myself and go to the area of Cotopaxi.
The two hour ride over uneven, rocky terrain feels about as comfortable as it sounds. I briefly stop to file a police report for severe head molestation and drive straight into a Hallmark postcard. The scenery and altitude are breathtaking: everywhere I look I see mountains and fields of green.
The first day is characterised by tranquility and relaxation. The following morning I head out into the surrounding nature for a hike with a group of people from the hostel.
We enter a forest and trudge through the mud. The intensity increases. Within minutes people lose the urge to speak - this I enjoy. An hour passes by and the plants and trees turn into lush green hills and fields of barley. A clear blue sky tricks me into thinking that today will be a good day.
The path leading to the summit continues to get steeper and I start falling behind. Partially on purpose, so I can vomit without a crowd - pity needs to be avoided at all cost.
Whilst ascending I start chewing painkillers as if it’s gum, but in vain. Pain makes its way through the maze of aspirines and my cerebral demon sinks its teeth into my muscles and skull.
I realise I made a mistake.
My legs stop functioning properly and my sight is deserting. I start slipping, fall in the mud, push myself back up, take a few steps and repeat. My brain and body have had enough.
I’m walking underwater. Colours and shapes are all I see. Not a sound is to be heard. Moving in slow motion I still go forward. How, I don’t know. I’m not aware of myself anymore.
Then I lose consciousness.
The world is black. Light was once here, but we haven’t met in over six years. I’d like to flee from this pit of darkness, but cannot fly with wings that are torn apart. Recovery is a fata morgana. I only heal in my dreams and wake up in my nightmare.
Transparent lightning strikes me, lifts me. A throbbing pain bursts through the nothingness and awakens me.
Upon opening my eyes I see mud and barley.
“Get up,” I mumble to myself. Nothing happens.
I try again. “Get up, don’t fucking quit.” My limbs don’t comply.
If I knew how to drop a tear, this would have been the moment. But I don’t. I lay there and wait until my aggression takes over and picks me up - which it does, it always does. I puke repetitively, wipe the remainder of vomit from my mouth and take the final steps to the top.
I reach the summit and sit down. Minutes go by. My sight starts reappearing and I finally see where I am: a mountain range and fields of green.
I don’t wonder if it was worth it, it wasn’t. My face looks as if I barely managed to convince the Grim Reaper to let me live, my head feels as if I didn’t.
Was it stubbornness refusing to accept the situation or plain stupidity? I wonder. Probably both. There’s however only one person to blame for the current misery and that person is sitting on the edge, trying not to fall off of it.
I stop playing around with thoughts and fast forward to the decision to never repeat this again. No more hiking, no more punching against the walls of my limitations. Once I’ve made my way down this mountain that is.
A shrug of shoulders, the swallowing of the last painkillers, a sigh and the descend begins.
All following conversations and events that day pass by in a vague blur. I don’t record anything and merely wait until the night falls and my mattress and I reacquaint.
Vaguely I recognise the outlines of my bed, wishing it was a coffin. I undress, lay down, say my prayers and let the devil have its way with me.
Be sure to follow me at: https://www.instagram.com/asmjournal
Buy the book at: https://asmjournal.gumroad.com/l/headfirst
Like the writing, feeling generous, or just want to keep me abroad? Every single penny is more than welcome. Sign up for a paid subscription or shoot me a DM via Instagram and make a donation. It means more to me than you can imagine. Thank you so much!