I had a job interview yesterday and by far the most interesting question posed to me was to describe an achievement, personal or professional, that I have experienced and why it was so memorable.
Immediately, my mind floated back in time to March 2009 and the memory of Volcán Villarrica outside of Pucón, Chile. The past couple months had been filled with unforgettable days and nights of novel experiences – hikes to Incan ruins, new friendships, living in the jungle without electricity or internet, 24 hour bus rides, running down a sand hill in the Atacama desert – why not add climbing a volcano onto the list? So I joined my friends in planning to climb this volcano, blissfully unaware that it would be the most physically demanding activity of my life at that time and still is to this date.
Why was it such an accomplishment? Because the climb consisted of 5 and a half almost merciless hours of ascent, stopping periodically only for nourishment and rehydration, and being frequently reminded by our guides that we had to get to the top before the increasing winds and cloud cover threatened to prevent us from making it all the way. Part of the volcano was covered by a glacier, and we even had to sport special gear on our hiking boots part of the way to avoid slipping on the snow and ice. Continue reading →
It’s this – coming back to the hostel after a long, tiring, but somehow energizing and an unmistakably satisfying day of exploring a foreign land with friends who were just strangers to me a day ago. It’s the accomplishment of climbing up a mountain for the second consecutive day and understanding the meaning of the word “breathtaking”. It’s that strange questioning of how a handful of people’s lives managed to converge at a common intersection in time and place to create such a memorable day. It’s knowing that moments like these, though no longer novel to someone who is no longer a novice traveller, are still exciting, still continue to feed the fire residing in the depths of my soul, still manage to make me say “wow” or conversely leave me speechless. Moments like these are my most cherished souvenirs; they’re moments I treasure and give more value to than money or gold…