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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

Going Down

First trek. I felt like I was in a different world. The sacred Apus of Peru surrounded me on all sides. I could hear rushing water beside me and the sun was shining brightly overhead. But even in the lushest, most sublime landscapes, things can go wrong.

It was a couple of hours into the trek when I started to feel off. We had gained a good amount of vertical meters. I began to feel dizzy, I had a pounding headache, and everything went a little fuzzy. I had been feeling the effects of the altitude in Urabamba, but nothing like this. Why, when I needed it the most, did my body have to turn on me? I started to panic. I didn’t know what to do. I was scared.

Soon enough, Ellie and I were sitting on a nearby rock checking my vitals and talking about what I was feeling. Eat this, drink more, lean back this way- she helped me calm down. We rested, assessed, and decided to continue. Further over the pass we went.

Eventually, after assessing my symptoms further, the instructors sat me down and let me know that they thought I was experiencing some altitude sickness and that they didn’t feel comfortable allowing me to continue the trek. The only cure for altitude sickness? You guessed it. Going down.

It was hard for me to hear. I didn’t want to leave! I wanted to continue with my friends and experience all of the intrigues of trekking! Sleeping under the stars! Llamas! Camp food! I didn’t want to miss out. But I knew after some supportive words from Raquel y Ellie, that having me go down was the best decision for everyone. The risk wasn’t worth it, and I didn’t want to put my group through the process of evacuating me if things got worse up higher. I had to go down.

When I told my group about the decision,  I was met with 10 caring hugs and many words of love. They told me they’d miss me, would leave room for me, and even that they would set up my sleeping bag in my honor! My pack is, in fact, with them at the 1st camp (along with my toothbrush, soap, and towel, so wish me luck!).

All in all, I learned a lot. I learned that the best choices for everyone are often the hardest to make and that, sometimes, those choices can really bum you out. However, when you’re dealing with the wilderness you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, no matter how disappointing.

Now I sit back in Urubamba, toothbrushless but also headache-less (hoorah!) after an introspective walk down with Randall. I’m looking forward to meeting up with the group later today to complete the rest of the trek, and I’m hoping for the best.

Gracias a los instructures for being so caring and supportive and to my fellow Dragons for making me feel okay about crying (it wasn’t very pretty!!). Lastly, thanks to Pachamama for reminding me to take things slow, and to breathe through it.

To my family and friends reading this, I love you and I’m okay!! Very well taken care of. I miss you all lots <3