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Bisoke Mountain: Fuck those girls are annoying [author: Ide]

By on May 30, 2011 in Rwanda with No Comments

[author: Ide] Disclaimer: if you are offended by foul language or mind me generalizing a bit about certain types of assholes, please skip to the next post.

Your pal,


On the day after the gorilla trek we were once again at the meeting point in the park. As I poured myself a cup of coffee, Kevin, a Canadian from the gorilla trek, said Hi. We chit-chatted with him about his four-month contact in Nairobi, Kenya, and our experiences in Sierra Leone. It was interesting to compare our different experiences. He was very put out by the lack of planning or motivation he had to deal with in his accounting job.

Kevin was going to see the Golden Monkeys, and we were off to hike to a lake near Bisoke Volcano. Justine must have misread the fine print, because we thought this was going to be a short walk around the volcano to see a pretty lake at the base.

Well that ain’t what it was.

It was, in fact, a treacherously steep hike 3,700 meters (12,000 feet) up the face of the volcano. To rub lye in this wound, our hike was made even more brutal with the incessant chattering of four woman who should never have been allowed to leave home.  As we assembled prior to the hike for the briefing and introductions, we were dismayed to realize that the five women from yesterday, four of which were a pain but ignorable, were on the same trip today.

Here is a quick breakdown:

Daniella, codenamed The Chatterbox. The only time she stopped talking was when she was out of earshot.

Deta, codenamed The Genius in Her Own Mind. This doesn’t quite convey patronizing, obnoxious, and needs-to-shut-the-fuck-up, but covers a lot of her conversation with The Chatterbox.

Eileen, codenamed The Phony.  After four long months in Kagali The Phony has mastered the art of the foreign accent – much like Madonna. Pat on the back for the three words she knows in Kinyarwanda, and the fake Rwandan accent. She is also the best MD to grace Africa.

Pam (forgot her real name, but Justine and I agree that she looks like a Pam), codenamed the Know-It-All. She had done the gorilla trek twice before, and reveled in beating the guide to telling us about the new twins.

Amber, codenamed Why Are You With These Ass Clowns?  She was funny and super sarcastic, with one-liners like when she ripped her jeans and said “Awesome, now I can pee out the hole.”

After learning that the hike was going to take three hours and went to the top of the volcano rather than sedately around it, I was wishing I’d eaten more at breakfast, had less coffee, and brought more than a midget banana for a snack. Earplugs would been a good move too.

Back in the jeep, we were thrown about for an hour on a rocky road that damn near bounced the piss out of me. We picked up a guy from Holland and a girl from Gemany who were volunteering in Kigali. They’d met once for ten minutes but had decided to take a few buses to check out the park. The guy from Holland chatted about his future plans for travel (haven’t managed to convince anyone to hit Sierra Leone yet) and we discovered that one day we both wanted to drive across Africa – us from West to East across the Sahara, and him from North to South – Eygpt to South Africa. Unfortunately we forgot to get his email, or we could have sold him our jeep at the end of our trip/start of his.

I started the hike in high spirits, which were quickly crushed as the volcano came into full view. This was anything but a three hour hike – and where was the lake anyway? We also got a preview of the most annoying and angering conversation that I’ve ever had to listen to. The Chatterbox and The Genius in Her Own Mind started every sentence with either “Such and such university”, “While in grad school” or “I’m a superior species of doctor.” This progressed to (Geta) saying, “I think we should be totally honest with each other about the trial.” Trial? This could be interesting except the conversation quickly turned to Gita dressing down Daniella for the first hour about how shitty her nervous laugh was, and how she needed more guidance about how the wound dressing drainage thing worked, and how so-and-so had no confidence in her. This was funny, because in Daniella’s only attempt to defend herself she said that she had been receiving advice from a couple of professors from MIT where she was in the PhD program. She did follow this with a nervous laugh.

Gita then started in that maybe she should find better advisors, and Dianella said something about how MIT wasn’t good with this stuff.  Gita continued on the we-need-to-be-completely-honest-track which was code for “I’m going to publicly unload a shit storm of bullshit on you.”

Justine asked me if she should say something. And me, in an attempt to stay positive, thinking that they would burn out soon said “No, don’t worry about it.” Well, sometimes I screw the pooch and have to pay dearly for it and this was one of those times. Fifteen minutes later we stopped for a rest and a water break and what was hopefully an end to the Gita and Daniella show. I was crushed when Pam said “Gita, it’s the weekend, can we stop the work talk?” and Gita responded forcefully in a half shout, “No!  This is my time and I can talk about what I want.”  The only thing I could think was ‘this fucking bitch is fucking crazy.’ Daniella started the conversation up again with something about needing to get a patent. I nearly turned to tell them they were both fucking idiots and to shut the fuck up when Amber asked “Are you saying you don’t have a patent yet?” Daniella responded that she should probably get one and would work on it soon. Amber turned to me and said, “Oh, I can’t believe that,” and to Daniella with more sarcasm than I could ever achieve, “Good idea, you think?”

At this point Justine and I sign language that we should drop back so we don’t have to listen to another word. As we waited for the gruesome twosome to get far enough ahead, the last member of our group caught up. He was a German and roughly our age and pulled a face that captured everything Justine and I were thinking. We tell him that we can’t take another two hours of this and he agrees and comments that there’s all this wonderful scenery out there, and they aren’t even looking at it, and they’re ruining the hike for everyone else.

Now that it’s just the three of us plus another soldier with an AK47 we chat for a minute and then enjoy some peace and quiet. However, enjoyment proves to be difficult because the volcano became nearly vertical and I was using a hand and a walking stick for every other step. Also, the mist was so thick that you couldn’t see the top of the trees. Putting our heads down we quickly (well, not really that quickly as Justine was about to pass out from exhaustion) caught up to Pam who was coughing and wheezing thanks to a virus she’d caught two weeks ago.

After passing Pam, we caught up to the group and Eileen had taken over the conversation with Gita.  It had shifted to stories of adventures in Med school which I was happy to listen to this except it turned into “Oh I am so awesome” after every take. In some cases this was probably true, but it turned my stomach because the self-congratulations continued for the next 45 minutes.

At that point I was done. When we stopped for another break and our guide began to explain that we were about halfway to the top and we were only starting the steep part and that we might not make it before the fog came in because of our pace, I took a look around and thought ‘okay, I have been hiking for two and a half hours that are so physically demanding my head might explode, I can’t see anything because of the mist, and I’m sick of the irritating chatter’. I turned to Justine and asked if we should go down. She looked at me like I was crazy but at that point I was so exhausted, both physically and mentally, that I decided to just accept that this was going to be the worst day of my Africa experience and in the top 20 of my life. With that I was now listening to Eileen, Gita, and Pam repeat our option of the group turning back in another hour, or splitting up into two groups and trying to get as far as possible. Everyone else said that we should break into two groups, but apparently we weren’t part of the decision making process because Eileen kept asking the guide what we should do, which only pissed everyone including the guide off more, because the decision was already made.

Finally the guide just turned and started up the volcano, which was good, but Justine and my decision of staying in the slow group made the climb stretch out for what seemed like forever. What ended up happening was that the lead group turned into two groups and the slow group was Justine, myself, and Pam. We’d climb for fifteen minutes and then the assistant guide would have us wait five minutes for Pam to vomit and catch up, which was in no way her fault [interjection by Justine: this was perfectly fine with me, because I couldn’t have gone much faster anyway, and I didn’t have the excuse of being deathly ill].  After the third stop we were told we still had an hour and a half to go. I realized that besides the excruciating climbing, the five minute breaks were making me stiffen up because the temperature was only 15C/62F.  And weighing 230 pounds (105kgs), just standing up for what was shaping up to be five hours was simply too much (not to mention we were two miles above sea level).

At that point I was really over the climb. On top of everything I couldn’t see shit besides mist in every direction (Gorillas In The Mist aptly named) and every time we waited for Pam, the guide said we had just another 30 to 40 minutes. Finally, at the next break I cried Uncle, sat down, and told the assistant guide that I was done. He said, “Don’t you want to make it to the top?” to which I responded “Why would I?”  I don’t think he expected this as he gave me a blank stare. I proceeded to say, “Dude, what’s the point? Those girls are driving me fucking crazy and at the top I’ll get the same view as right here – mist!”. With that he said, “Do you see that ridge?” I nodded and he said “It’s right there.” I felt like asking why the fuck was he telling me it was 30 to 40 minutes when we were less than 10 minutes from the top. But anyway, I hauled ass for the peak. Five minutes later Eileen and Gita are cheering me on and saying “I knew you could make it,” (because they know me so well?) followed by a warning about how cold they were because they had been waiting for 45 minutes and were freezing. I ignored them, lay down in my thin scarf, shorts and no jacket because someone in Ghana was probably enjoying Justine’s warm clothes and the presents the students bought her – which the phony cunt Eileen knew because she’d mentioned it five times, but still had the nerve to complain she was cold.

Finally my light bulb turned on. I realized exactly what these girls were – I’d grown up with a bunch of them and carbon copy guys. The only way to describe them is ‘crabs in a bucket’. If they felt bad they would try and make you feel worse so that they could feel better.

At that moment Justine arrived and she was on top of the world. Taking a few pictures of the lake in the crater of the volcano (yes, that’s where the lake turned out to be) she walked an extra thirty meters to get to the Democratic Republic of Congo. With her excitement and a quick nap I was ready for the descent. When we took off I shadowed the lead soldier. We stopped to let the others catch up but as soon as they did we both took off. After the second stop the soldier introduced himself as Alex and we chatted about climbing the volcano. He asked why I was going down so fast, to which I explained that I liked the peace and quiet and he smiled.  Then I said that it was hard to stay motivated with the girls talking about work and the reason that I was here was to take a break from work. He smiled and laughed, and I realized that it wasn’t only me that was put off by Gita, Daniella, and Eileen – which made me feel like I was not alone. At the third break Amber caught up and was in great form because she’d ripped her pants. She had me dying with her frustrated comments about her ripped pants and tennis shoes. Never to be outdone, when we got to our next break I realised I had ripped my cargo shorts from the middle of the zipper to the cuff at the bottom, giving everyone a full view of my underwear. With Justine’s suitcase somewhere between Ghana, Dubai, or Ethiopia, this cut down our pants options by 25% but I still laughed my ass off. As I walked through the village back to our jeep everyone was laughing at my shorts, to the point where people were pulling out family members and neighbors to check me out. When our driver Omar saw me he laughed for a minute, then unlocked the jeep.

As we started down the rocky road Omar slowed down, then started driving again, and then I heard the hiss of one of the back tires. As we climbed out of the jeep and plonked down in the grass I had a chuckle. As more and more folks arrived to help with the tire, accompanied by 15 gaping children, I realized that my shorts were so ripped that I couldn’t cover up the view of my undies.

In hindsight, I realized that the day was great summary of my African adventure. It had points that made me angry, frustrated, confused and ready to give up. But in the end I realized that if you look for the reasons why you are feeling those emotions, you’re going to see that you can let them burn you up or just be thankful that you got to learn more about yourself, and something new.


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