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Monday, July 18, 2011

My Journey to the Mountains

What an adventure I had last Sunday! In my quest to be back in shape (I really need it lol), I accepted an invitation for a hike. It's a club that has been doing it every Sunday for thirty two years now. I grew up seeing them every Sunday walking the streets of Bujumbura but I had never been part of any of their activities.The club name is "Les Amis de la Montagne" (Friends of the Mountain)

I thought it would be a piece of cake. Come on, I have been a Basketball champion (at least as a coach lol), I have climbed the CN Tour four times,so walking should be easy. What an illusion!

What I did not know was that, whenever I saw them walking, it was just a forty minutes warm up. After the walk, they go for a hike in the mountains, and that, my friends is something. I learned my lesson. For about half an hour, we were just walking, and I was chatting with longtime friends of the family who are part of the club, and they were explaining to me how things work in the club. I was very much impressed.

They told me that, after a while, there would be separate groups who will take different routes according to the degree of difficulty of the hike. I thought to myself:I will certainly be in the elite group.Remember, I have been a Basketball know the story. Then we got to the hills; the leaders showed us the way for the different routes. A and B (the tough ones) would go this way, and the C would go that way. I was definitely an A.

Off we went, A and B together. After about ten minutes of walking, I was sweating like crazy, almost lost my breath. Then something happened. We stopped. I was like, it was high time we stopped. The leader then said: Group A you go this way, and group B you go that way. This time, there was no way I would go with A. No way

Group B took off. Man, it was crazy. By the time we got to the top of a mountain, there was another one to climb. And I was like, what in the world did I get myself into? I wanted to call my wife, my mom, God...., anyone who could help. Needless to say that I was the last one in the group. And all the time I was thankful that I did not go with group A. I would have been dead by this time.

At first, the group members wanted to wait for me, but I told them to keep going because I didn't want them to loose their momentum. I was hopeless. I was stopping every two minutes. I started asking for directions from the people who live there. I was asking them if they saw any men and women with white T-Shirts (that is the club uniforms). They gladly showed me the way, but after a while, there was no way I could get to them. I was done.

Then, a young boy offered to help and show me my way back by taking a shortcut to the main street. I thought it was a shortcut. We walked for half an hour before getting to the street. I was so exhausted man. By the time I got to the main street, I met a club member who took the shortcut as well. He had a meeting to go to, that is why he did not go all the way. I asked him where were all the others and he told me that they were still climbing. I was like, are you serious???!!! These people are machines

I will be honest and tell you that, for years, I thought this club was for old people who could not practice any other sport. How wrong was I! I have never been in any basketball drill that was this hard (maybe it's my age as well). Compared to this hike, climbing the CN Tour is a piece of cake. And these people have been doing it for over thirty years!!!!! That is impressive

How often do we judge people at the first sight without trying to get to know them? So often, we are quick to judge and have an opinion on everything without even trying to understand that person (at least that is my case). After last Sunday, I had a whole other view of the club. It was respect. I had also a great respect for the people who live in those mountains and who, day after day, come down to the city to make a little bit of money and return home, sometimes with nothing for which to show. They are at the heart of our economy (the food we eat comes from there). I learned my lesson

Moral of the story? Do you want to learn your life lesson? Just put on a white T-Shirt and go for a hike in the mountains and you will take a shortcut

Always a pleasure
The Journeyman

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