One foot in front of the other. Breathe in, breathe out.
We don't talk much. It's nearly impossible to find the air required for polite conversation at this altitude and with this incline. Instead we walk, one foot at a time, hearts racing, heads pounding, lungs burning. Silently encouraging one another to continue the climb to our first night of camp at 14,000 feet.
We’re two of eleven people, crammed in the back row of a 1990’s grey minivan cruising down the Pan-American Highway. Sitting sideways and grasping onto the seat in front of us as the van slams over potholes, we watch the sandy desert roll by. With the blue ocean on the horizon, we get further from the Ecuador-Peru border and closer to the small beach town of Mancora. Wiggling our toes to encourage blood flow in our squished legs, we glance at each other, a silent acknowledgement that after more than six months of travel, we still enjoy these uncomfortable moments. And how can we not? We’re out of the Andes (meaning the van is moving faster than 35mph and in a straight line), the sun is shining, we’re in a new country and we’re beach bound. Life is good.
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