I peeked through the window at the winding hairpins they called a road. We didn’t get a moment of rest. Every second of the journey felt like treading on a giant sand paper. It was bumpy, curvy, and clammy — yet it was the best trip I had had in a long time.
Everything about the road was dangerous. And that only made it more exciting. At least for us inside the car. Visibility was a thing of the plains, not the mountains. The mist — or fog, I never know the difference — hung in front of us, obscuring our path for hours together.
Our driver wasn’t keen on headlights. He’d realised they were useless anyway, and decided, instead, to rely on his instincts, hoping no vehicles would come at us from the opposite direction. Despite it being a national roadway, with over thousands of vehicles passing by every day, the road isn’t safe for two vehicles at the same time.
Just as I had made peace with myself that the ride wouldn’t kill us, we made a swerve so sharp that I bumped into my neighbour, almost pushing her off her seat. Grinning and wishing we hadn’t made each other too awkward, we both turned to look outside.
On the right I saw cliffs steeping all the way down to the oblivion. When I hugged the glass to get a better glance, I saw turquoise splashes of unspoilt water, flowing through rocks as shaven as a bald man.
On my left rose the biggest mountain I had ever seen. It felt more like a massive rock spotted with natural beauty chasms. I hadn’t expected mountains so huge, so dented, and so beautiful — all at the same time.
Looking down from the airplane, I had seen an expanse of parched land, bearing more sand than I could capture in one photo. But as I passed through the same mountains in a much smaller vehicle, they seemed as alive as the giant beanstalk itself. With tiny people, in their efforts to conquer everything they chance upon, picking their way through the solidity.
Throughout the day, they seemed at work, reconstructing, drilling, and planning. They went about unperturbed by the endless stream of vehicles. It was just another day for them. Countless passers by, random people getting sick, people staring, provoking, feeding the monkeys, and some others hoping to become the next great photographer.
We didn’t seem to bother the natives at all. But nature was less forgiving. From woollen gloves that betrayed me, and mountains that loomed so high that they made me trivial, to the trees that swayed their disapproving heads as I pulled a sweater over my head.
Nevertheless, it all was worth it.