My heart is beating out of my chest. As we are so high up my left ear has half popped so the sound of my shallow breath is amplified. My thighs are burning and my calf muscles are on the brink of cramp – I’m climbing a gigantic mountain. As the climb gets tough I count in multiples of 33…come on Spiers you can do this, you ran a marathon last year. As the path becomes less verticle I count in multiples of 100. The little negative voice creeps in – you’re so slow, she says, I bet you’re the slowest person to climb this mountain. I hit my wall, I have no energy left. I’m drenched with sweat as it was baking hot 2 hours earlier but now we’re in the clouds and I’m cold. Beads of sweat fall down my neck and my arms, making me shiver.
My back arches forward, how much further? 20 minutes and we reach the top replies Pradeep, my trekking guide. I’m embarrassed, I’m out of breath and dripping wet in front of a guy who looks like he’s going for a short stroll in the park AND he’s climbing this mountain in flip flops.
We get to the top and arrive at the highest tea plantation in the world. I slump down, my clothes sticking to me, my head is pounding and I feel dizzy. A large Indian family walk around the corner and I’m thinking shit, I know what’s about to happen. The usual Indian curiosity questions land at my feet – what’s your name, where are you from, are you married? I’m staring blankly at them as request for photos follow and I feel sick. Someone passes me a cup of sweet milky tea, as the liquid dissolves into my dry mouth it gives me the energy to lift my eye lids an inch higher. This is the best cup of tea I have had in my whole life, I say. The guy sat next to me said you must be wiped out as it’s a pretty normal cup of tea. I turn to my right and look at him with a half smile, I hold out my hand, I’m Lesley from Surrey, England, sure you can have a photo. The man can tell I’m struggling so signals to his friend to feed me dried banana. I’m becoming friendlier by the second.
Pradeep points me in the direction of the place I’m staying in…up hill! I want to throw a tantrum and cry like a little girl but on I go wobbling from side to side still shivering from my wet clothes.
On arrival I seem to transform from an embarrassed out of shape trekker to a queen. This place is amazing! I was greeted with tea and biscuits followed by a hot shower, massive double bed and a apartment overlooking this view.
I drink my tea and eat all 10 biscuits and feel incredible. I wrap myself up in a big blanket and read my book called Wild Feminine while listening to folk music. Can life get anymore perfect?
Later that evening after more room service tea and snacks, Senthil arrives with a big smile. I am so grateful he has booked this place for me and I then discover his company runs the apartments. Senthil’s business has grown loads since we first met and I get a lovely feeling of pride for what he has achieved… one guy with a big vision. We walk around the side of the building and there is a bonfire which I get really excited about. I sit with senthil and some of his colleagues, warmed by the fire and blown away by the blanket of stars above me.
Senthil asks how long the 14km trek took and I reply about 4 hours. Oh that’s quick, he said, it’s normally a 6 hour trek. I melt into my chair and feel proud whilst pointing a smile inwards towards the voice that had doubted me earlier in the day. Well done Spiers.
Over the next few days I hang out with some awesome people, playing games, chatting, getting up at 5.30 am to watch the sunrise and more walking. Munnar, you continue to astound me!