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My friend, David (who I talked with about math and evolution on previous blogs, links are below.) went on a backpacking trip in Africa recently. This is his story of the experience of other cultures.
This is the fifth blog in part 2 of this series. Here is the link for the page where the others can be found:
June 9, Bisoke:
Mount Bisoke is one of the 3 Volcanic mountains in the Volcanoes National Park that borders the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s one of the only places in the world where you can find wild mountain gorillas. The peak altitude is 3711 metres above sea level, and today, we started to prepare for the hike to the top. We packed light bags, got into the safari vehicles, and made our way to the place where the hike was being organized.
After a half-hour long bumpy ride, we reached our destination. We were welcomed with the beautiful cultural dancing and tribal drum beating of some African performers. I heard the deep sound of the drums and watched the rhythmic dancing, with the backdrop of the 3 volcanic mountains that faded into the distant sky. It was a powerful experience. That’s when I really got the awareness that I was truly in the heart and soul of Africa; the cradle of humanity.
After getting debriefed about the climb and meeting our porters, we went on another 20-minute-long ride to the starting point of the hike. Military men would escort us to protect us from dangerous wild animals and Congo militants. The hike through the dense African jungle had a lot of sights and sounds.
On the way up, our tremendous effort was rewarded at every clearing with the beautiful sight of the Rwandan countryside in the distance. Alongside me were Maddie, Brett, and 2 military men who escorted us. 3 hours and 5 minutes after the starting point, and marching against a gradient, we reached the peak of Mount Bisoke. The view from the top was absolutely breathtaking. The Clouds that had been covering our path rolled around the edge of the rim and swirled into the volcano’s crater. In the bottom of it was a serene, perfectly round lake that was surrounded by wilderness. The sides of the crater were steep cliffs that couldn’t be accessed.
We took pictures and ate a light meal of hard-boiled eggs and avocado sandwiches while we enjoyed the view. The way back down on the same path was tiring, but not in the same manner as going up was. It was a lot harder on our knees.
When we got to the bottom and rode back in the safari vehicle, there was a child with a gorilla picture who was following us. Kyle, Stella, Sarah Bell, Maddie, Sydney, Lindsey and I were having a huge debate about who would buy the picture from the boy. It was like the U. N. security council debating about the effects of poverty in Africa. Stella seemed to be anxious to buy the picture. I was arguing that she should not do so. With arguments going back and forth, and Stella about to lose it because she felt bad for the boy, the bus broke forcefully. We heard a bang. The kid had banged his head on the back of the bus. Everyone burst into laughter and the poor boy retreated to a tree with his face turned away from us. Kyle was hysterical and Stella was pissed off.
“I don’t understand why that’s funny!” she said.
The boy eventually came back for a while longer, but Stella had no money anyway. The events of that bus ride turned into the story that no one let go of for the rest of the trip. It was even the topic of debate in one of the sessions that happened a few days later, which kind of changed my perspective to a degree.