Walking Kokoda Track was solely my decision, I agree. I knew it was tough – in fact, one of the toughest in the world and trekkers will swear by the varying degrees of hardship you face along the 96 km track, end to end. This was perhaps one of the hardest thing I ever did – till date. Well, its almost 2 years now – I remember, today, two years ago, I was all ready to leave, having just twisted my ankle in an unfortunate incident, but doing just fine. I did have some doubts about being able to walk the track, but there was so much at stake – so I did go.
Fast forward to the track – (More about this in my book Almost Intrepid)
When we reached Camp Goodwater (me with my two porters Vico and Jones), I was ready to give up. I mean, it was just the start but it had taken me quite a bit of walking and slipping to reach here. I think, more than the exhaustion of walking under the canopy of trees, without another soul to speak with (Vico and Jones weren’t the chatty types) made everything worse and I was already regretting my decision. I
I wanted to talk – sing, dance – but knowing that wasnt going to happen for the next 9 days, I was kinda feeling low. When I went up Kilimanjaro by myself (except for a guide who didn’t speak much either) I had sworn I wouldnt go on any adventure alone, but I had. I am not even getting into the risk of doing something as foolish as this, but moving on – what I really wanted to do was to hold another human. It is one of those moments when a mere human presence makes all the difference. I am not sure what it was that I felt, but besides wanting to speak, I wanted to hold another human being. Fortunately, Camp Goodwater (and most camps along the track) have installed the “tribes people” to look after the camps (keeping dry wood for campers, sweeping up after they have left etc). In the tribal family of 4, there was a little baby – hardly what you expect to find in the middle of one the largest rain forests in the world. But there was – of course, no one spoke my tongue – but seeing a baby made all the difference.
I have no idea how or why but just cuddling that frail little fella made me stronger somehow. As though all the fatigue washed away – and then he cried. A real human baby cry – in the middle of a forest where it was easy to go for days without seeing another human, with the exception of your guide or your group if you happened to be in one. It was magical – the cry of human baby –
I am now hoping that, the said baby, has become a little bigger – and now runs around the camp – I am sure I will never see him again, but I wanna say that in a lot of ways, he gave me that push to walk ahead the next day!
It is strange how we as humans (though we like to call ourselves invincible adventurists) feel the need to bond with another human – and how it puts us back on track!