Trance like we walk with no end in sight. The two hour time frame is no longer a possibility as the clock tocks beyond that mark. Our breath has returned and we are able to talk with each other, the time is passing somewhat quicker. My breathing has settled into its usual rate and I’m no longer monitoring. The nausea continues to be a pest that I cannot shake despite medication. I sip water, gagging at the taste but knowing I must persevere.
It’s beautiful and the terrain is changing from wasteland with scrubby vegetation to a thicker carpet of green and succulent plants. John pauses to take photographs, I take some too but am focused on not lingering for fear of not starting again. I’m not hungry and there is no reason for a break as the mere touch of the toast in my pocket intensifies my nausea.
Our group is scattered along the path with some group members ahead and still others behind. Soon we meet an old friend, Godwin. We are happy to see him though his company is more friendship than guiding as the route is obvious. We are mistaken, as in a few moments he veers off what looks to be the path to another shorter route, which is the path. We are happy to not add even a few moments to this day.
My toes have joined the symphony as the constant downhill coupled with the occasional toe stub contribute to a fresh pain which takes my mind off the nausea and headache momentarily. My boots have been fastened to alleviate this concern as much as possible but it will not change due to the unfortunate anatomy of my toes. I cringe and wince my way over the boulders which have made a return to the landscape
I am afraid to ask Godwin how much longer as we probably have more than a few moments left to hike. Finally I ask and am told it’s about two hours. I ask John for the time and walk with purpose, knowing I can do anything for a few hours.
A few hours later we are walking through jungle like terrain, so different from the scrubby landscape we woke up to this morning. Godwin points out the beautiful Colobus monkeys, with the skunk like tails that we saw just a few short days ago. I take their photos finding one who wanted his portrait and happily snapped away. I give Godwin a big hug, and thank him for everything.
It took about 4 hours, right in the middle of the range we were given this morning. We are in good shape and I metaphorically pat myself on my back then congratulate John. Godwin directs us to a building and tells us to get some food. This seems silly as we would be driving to the hotel straight away. We go in and find some of our group just finishing lunch. They do not look elated and soon I would learn why–we are not done. The sign for Mandara tells us we have another three hours to reach our final destination today. I wish for a shorter time, though it’s highly unlikely as the information is sandblasted and likely accurate. Still, perhaps we are quicker than average, this thought encourages.
I’m not interested in lunch though I eat a couple of orange slices. My toast from this morning remains in my pocket should I get peckish later. I don’t want to linger for fear of my body refusing to move. I use the washroom an upgrade from our chemical toilets and I’m ready to leave. I refuse to look at the sign as I pass with my head held high. Godwin has been lounging on the grass waiting and he gets up quickly and leads us into the jungle for our final hours.