Every self-respecting 2000’s kid knows Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana’s hit single, “The Climb.” With lyrics such as “there is always gonna be another mountain // you’re always gonna wanna make it move,” it is clear why this song popped into Bernice and I’s head as we made our way up the mountain path to Bois Jolie this week. The hike was moving slow for us, but we spent it talking about love and the future, which helped it pass quicker than we thought.
Before I came to Haiti, Pradip told me that I should be able to run up and down the three (very steep, may I add) flights of stairs to the photography classroom 10 times without passing out. Then, I would be physically prepared for the hiking we would be doing. This task seemed very daunting (remember, these stairs are steep!) but I wasn’t going to let these stairs get in the way of my dream.
Flash forward, I am breathlessly singing “The Climb” as I make my way up the mountain. I am covered in a layer of sweat, but this has become just another necessary accessory, like my hat, boots, and sunscreen. To my left is a view that rolls over green mountains into blue skies, under my feet are loose stones that pose myriad opportunities to tumble. It is hot, and this day in particular is painful, but I march onward.
I have never been a particularly athletically-inclined individual. This is to say, I don’t really push my body to do anything that takes much physical exertion. This is not to say I am incapable of physical exertion, rather I simply avoid it if possible. The first time we made the hike up to Bois Jolie, I remained silent until we were resting in the shade, in an attempt to conserve energy. This week marked the third time we have hiked this path, and this time I talked (albeit in ragged voices littered with holes in conversation so that we could catch our breath or make our way up a particularly difficult section) and even sang as I hiked.
I am proud of myself for making it up the mountain, a task that had caused me mild distress in the weeks leading up to my departure to Haiti. I am proud and happy that my body is stronger than maybe I gave it credit for, and proud that the hike is becoming easier. The hike is no longer something I dread, rather it is simply the climb that takes me to the people, the relationships, and the work that I am here for.
And I will add — somehow, the two-hour hike in the Haitian heat seems easier than the three flights of stairs to the photo department in Sewanee.