Some people see a mountain and think – I should hike up that. Joy!
Other people see a mountain and can admire it’s splendour from a distance. Like from the comfort of their comfy chair at their desk. Such people can say, “What a lovely mountain. We should leave it alone and never disturb its tranquillity.”
Do I even need to ask you which group of people I belong to?
When I lived here before, I used to go walking…and running, every morning with my fabulous friend Maylani. Such walks took place at Tuanaimato. Long lovely walks on FLAT roads. It was great. I was fit and healthy and I got to chat with my friend every day.
Now I’m back and she invites me to “come walking. We’re going up Palisi.” Im delighted as I envision a meandering trail through the windswept trees…lots of reflecting on nature…lots of conversation. And best of all, I have a legitimate reason to get away from my children for an hour.
So I go, taking my unfit, untrained, unsuspecting and TRUSTING self to “walk” with Maylani. This is the starting point. She tells me it will take 45minutes.
Ten minutes later – I am gasping for air. And asking Maylani, “WHAT THE FOX?! This is not a walk. This is a hike straight up a mountain. This is not a smooth road, its a rough track to hell. Why didnt you tell me it would be like this…blah blah…”
Just then, we meet two people walking down the mountain. Im not wearing my glasses so I can’t see who they are. But I can hear her. “Lani, is that you? I bet you’re b**ching and complaining every step of the way, arent you? You’re gonna complain alllll the way to the top!”
It’s my friend (and former personal trainer/gym owner) Anita. The woman who knows all too well my penchant for beeatching and whinging when it comes to exercise. I’m slightly miffed at just how spot-on she is. But I do stop complaining…And we keep moving.
Twenty minutes later – my legs hurt and I’m wondering what a heart attack feels like.
Thirty minutes later – Maylani thinks she’s being helpful by pointing out a rooftop faaaaaar away in the distance, peering through the trees. “Thats the halfway mark. Not far now!”
Halfway? We’re not even halfway?! You said the whole walk would take 45 minutes? But it’s been half an hour on the steepest incline of a treadmill loaded with rocks AND IM NOT EVEN HALFWAY?!
I’m not happy. But Maylani is my friend. And I can’t kill her. At this point I don’t have enough energy to even push her off a cliffside. We keep moving.
Forty minutes later – we haven’t got to the halfway mark yet. My vision is hazy. I’m trying to calculate how long it would take for the Westpac Rescue helicopter to come save me. Awww heck, and I’m delusional. There’s no rescue choppers in Samoa…
That’s when I call it quits. I sit down on the trail and tell Maylani to go on without me. “I’ll be fine. I want to enjoy the view. Meditate on nature.” lies…lies…The truth? I want to cry and dont want any witnesses.
She keeps going. As soon as she’s out of sight, I lean back on some rocks, and hoist my shirt up to wipe the sweat off my face. And a stray hysterical tear or two. Mosquitos appear and attack me. Swarm over me. I want to pass out in a ditch but I have to do the mosquito slap dance. There’s splotches of blood all over my legs now. I want to go home. But I dont want to walk there. Save me!
My pity fest is interrupted – by some athletic, sprightly (tattooed) men – who are running up the mountain. “Malo Lani!” they say. “Fa’amalosi, you can do it!” they offer encouragement as they dash past.
I’m suddenly very conscious of the fact that I’m a disgusting mess. And I smell bad. And I’m wiping my face with my shirt which means I’m flashing the forest (and the tattooed hiker-runners) with the blubbery body sections which only Spanx should ever see.
I put my shirt down and jump to my feet, trying to look happy and athletic as I wave them on. “You go ahead. Enjoy! I’m ummm, waiting for my friend.” *roll my eyes* ” She’s taking forever!” Lies…lies.
As soon as they’re out of sight, I flop back down to the recovery position. But this time, my radar is honed for sounds of approaching hikers. This time, I’m ready. I have a strategy.
I hear another hiker-runner. He’s coming down the mountain. I leap up and start walking purposefully DOWN the trail. He overtakes me easily and with a cheery greeting, “Malo Lani!” He’s working a kind of #DanielTahi look and I’m very glad that I’m not a babbling mess of patheticness on the forest floor. No, instead I’m a mountain-hiking guru that’s ambling down the trail because I’ve already gone to the top.
“Hi,” I say. With an airy wave. “I’m waiting for my friends to catch up with me…” Lies…lies…
He powers down the trail. Hopefully convinced by my incredible acting skills. Ha.
One hour later – Maylani returns and together we start the descent. I don’t complain now. Because there’s no air to waste on whiny words. And because, I’m just so excited to be getting down off this stupid mountain. Yes!!
Back at the car, Im jubilant. We made it. I didn’t fall into a crevasse. Sniffer dogs won’t be required to search for my decomposing body. Okay, so I didn’t make it to the top…or even halfway…
But I’M ALIVE!! And the hills are.alive…with the sound of music!!
I told Maylani we’re still friends. Right? Please? Although I’m not sure she wants to hang out with whinger unfit losers who give her a headache when she’s trying to kickstart their mountain hiking career. Especially not whinger losers who FAKE that they’ve climbed the mountain when athletic-tattooed-types go past…
Then I went home and did what any good athlete would do after a strenuous workout – I ate cake. (that I’d baked in the morning)
And it was very good.
I’ve decided I will hike the mountain again next week. Hopefully I ‘ll make it to the halfway mark this time.