The climb

Something happened to me last summer. Among all other great and not so great things, something happened. It started with a journey. A simple weekend away on the beach with friends.

After I was fired from my job, the very same day, around 4 pm, I headed for a weekend in the south-west Riviera in my country. I was told by my friends, there was gonna be a climbing festival three days straight, with a lot of music, yoga classes, climbing and hiking. Don’t forget the parties and the stunning beaches. It would be a great distraction from my life and its current problems.

My expectations of what would happen on my weekend on the beach were so different from what really happened. First of all, I learned that I COULD survive sleeping on a sleeping bag, inside a tent without caring too much of insects, spiders, rocks, snoring from the neighboring tent or anything that could bother you when you sleep outside. Secondly, I found out that the human body can endure a lot of sleepless night and days full of activity, if it is an activity that you love and enjoy. Thirdly, I understood that the only one stopping you from being great is yourself. Maybe you’d say how the hell does someone make such a discovery on a simple weekend at the beach?

It was a surprise for me as well. I wanted to go and chill, forget about life stuff, heavy stuff, problems and even forget about myself in a way. But the best part is that that’s where I found a big part of myself.

We arrived at 9 pm, it was dark and after parking the car, we began to walk through a very narrow and dark road that would lead us to the small bay of Gjipe. We were told it wouldn’t be a very long walk, but it seemed eternal. We walked for almost an hour, because we had a lot of bags too. You’d think I’d get mad and stressed, but I really thought that dark and dangerous walk in the middle of nowhere was a perfect start for this adventure. At last, we arrived and we were given help from our friends, who got there earlier. The tent was ready. We put our things inside, got into comfy clothes and headed towards the improvised (just for this weekend) beach bar.

After the first night of a lot of dancing, drinking and sleeping on stones (and I definitely have to mention this, that night, for the first time in my life I swam in the sea and the weirdest thing happens. The water around me was shinning!!! I found out later that it was a special king of alga that shines during the night if you go near them. Pretty great first time right?), I woke up to a beautiful view. I unzipped the tent, woke my “room mates” up and told them not to miss this morning’s spectacular view. You don’t get that everyday. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so in honor of that:

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That view led us directly into the water. There’s nothing better than a good swim to wake you up. And after that, the cold Frappe at the beach bar.

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During the morning coffee we were told that the yoga class would start in half an hour and who wanted to join was more than welcome. Of course I joined. I have always wanted to go to a yoga class, but never got the time or had enough will to enroll in one. To sum it up, it was amazing. In the end we also did 15 minutes of meditation, which was also something I have always wanted to include in my daily practices. And fortunately now I am, daily and sometimes twice per day. I think everyone should.

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But now let’s go back to my crazy and wonderful weekend. When the yoga ended, I was sure I would go lay down on the beach, sunbathe, have a swim or two and probably go to sleep cause of the lack of sleep I had from the previous night. And swim I did, and sunbathing too, but I kept forgetting about sleeping.

It was around 2 pm, the hottest hour of the day, when we were told that a big group was going to hike in the canyon. Just a few hours earlier, my friend had begged me to go there with her, because she loves hiking and had explored that canyon before. I, on the other hand, did not want, not in a million years, to spoil that perfect and relaxing day with unnecessary and tiring movement such as hiking.

But there I was, wearing my snickers, shorts and a T-shirt, abandoning the relaxing atmosphere of the beach, to go on a strange adventure. I had never been a fan of hiking and nature exploring. I was appalled when I found out it was going to take approximately 2 hours to go and come back. However, I had decided to try this one out. I already knew that this was a weekend of firsts after all.

It started out easy, stony terrain, some rocks here and there, but after 10-15 minutes, just looking at the rocks gave you chills and I thought that you had to be a professional climber to make it. Those 2 hours, I hiked, I climbed huge rocks, some of them even without any rope, I crawled, I jumped, I got into dirty ponds where clans of frogs had built their mansions, I got scratches almost everywhere, I almost fell from 3-4 meter heights, but I can’t even begin to explain what it did to me.

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I felt invincible, no problem back home seemed a problem anymore. I felt I could take over the world. Now I really understand the meaning of stepping out of your comfort zone. You have to challenge yourself and never believe for even a second that there is something you cannot do. By climbing those huge and very dangerous rocks, I in the end, didn’t just own them. I owned me again.

After that experience, I have done longer and crazier hikes around my country, but I have to admit, I prefer climbing. You will get some scratches on your knees and maybe those nails will get ruined, your legs will tremble and your heart will be on overdrive. But after you arrive on the top, the view will be amazing. You will feel amazing!

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