I'm always gonna want to make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb"
Sorry to quote Miley Cyrus, she's far from one of my role models. However, her song "The Climb" relates very well to the adventure we went on this past Sunday as well as experiences abroad in general.
Also, we found ourselves belting out the song as we climbed up the Barva Volcano this weekend.
I was invited by a friend to join a fellow group of expats as they climbed a nearby volcano this weekend and of course my answer was yes! Any activity involving outdoors, exercise and little money is something I'm all in for. I didn't ask many questions, but I was warned that it would be a pretty intense hike and I should prepare accordingly.
I showed up at my friends house at 8am on Sunday and we walked together to the bus stop to meet the rest of the group. There ended up being 10 of us total including americans, brits, a french guy and a tico. We took the 20 minute bus ride to the nearby village of Barva, a commuter town to Heredia. On the bus ride I found out that the volcano usually takes 3 hours to climb... one way. Boy am I glad I packed a water bottle and snacks. The bus dropped us off at the bottom of the volcano, and we began to climb upwards. The path was paved but steep, very steep. Almost immediately, our larger group formed into a faster and slower group. Not even 15 minutes in someone from the slower group ran up to us and told us that four people were already ready to be done and were gonna take a taxi home. The 6 of us kept going fast at first and then we slowed down to a more reasonable pace. As we ascended we watched the weather go from hot and sunny, to cool and foggy, and finally to cold and rainy. I wouldn't say the climb was particularly difficult at any point, but the uphill battle (literally) was relentless and it became a mental battle to get to the top. I'll admit, there were some miserable points. Like when it first started rainy and I was so hot that I didn't want to put my hoodie on, but then it got soaked, and later on when it got colder and I wanted to use it the damp hoodie only made things worse. Not to mention my muddy, soggy shoes which I had to slosh around in for 4+ hours. However, it was all worth it when we got to the top where a beautiful national park was waiting for us. We spent an hour or so exploring the cloud forest and checking out the volcano crater that has turned into a lagoon. On the way down some of us were able to hitch a ride with a friend I ran into, and we warmed up with homemade soup from a restaurant on the side of the rode. By the time I got home at 7:30pm I was exhausted but all smiles as I had quite the adventure. Not only did I get to see a beautiful piece of nature, but I got to know some pretty awesome people and hey, I CLIMBED A VOLCANO. I'd say that's a pretty big accomplishment.
I think the lesson I learned from hiking the volcano is similar to the one I've learned many times living abroad. There can be rough times like when money's tight, when you're homesick during the holidays or just feeling overwhelmed by culture shock, but it's all those little experiences and reaching that end goal that make it all worth it. It's the journey you take, the friends you make, and the experiences you have along the way. So, to anyone out there that's having one of those down moments right now, remember that it will get better and that it's all part of a bigger picture. And if you need to, feel free to turn on "The Climb" and belt out the lyrics, because Miley knows.