A Bathroom and a Volcano

My roommate and good friend Drew and I have decided to re-watch the Star Wars Saga after our mutual excitement over the trailer for Episode VII. One of the most famous lines from the Saga comes from Episode V when everyone’s favorite puppet, Master Yoda, throws some knowledge to young Luke Skywalker: “Do or do not. There is no try.” The little green dude has a point. What follows are two stories that are evidence of the truth of Yoda’s words. They involve adventure, struggle, frustration, and triumph. One about a bathroom and the other about a volcano.

Last week a number of my friends and I went out to dinner in Kigali. When we arrived at the restaurant I felt the urgent need to relieve myself and use the restroom so I found the toilet and headed in. To ensure my privacy, I locked the door to the single bathroom that was connected to a second single bathroom. Almost all the doors in Rwanda are without deadbolts and rather just have a key on the inside that you turn to lock and unlock the door. After I finished my business I attempted to unlock the door with the key, yet was having some trouble. I announced to Gabi who had just left the bathroom next door that I was having some trouble and so she waited outside the door until I could unlock it. Yet, it didn’t seem to want to unlock. I continued to try to turn the key yet it didn’t budge. I passed the key under the door to Gabi on the other side yet her attempts caused the key hole to fall through my side of the bathroom. I was in a bit of a predicament. My only choice was to crawl over the wall separating the two bathrooms by climbing over the toilet on my side. So I delicately climbed over the toilet, boosted myself over the wall (with my nonexistent arm muscles) and tried my best to lightly land on top of the toilet on the other side. Luckily Placide, a Rwandan friend, had reached the other side to help me down. Once I had walked out of that door I was able to breath fresh air and have a chuckle. “Do or do not. There is no try.”

On Monday my friends and I traveled to Volcano National Park in Northwestern Rwanda to climb Mount Bisoke, a 12,000 foot volcano with a magnificent crater lake at its peak. The morning of the hike we were up by 6 a.m. to travel to the base of the volcano to begin our ascent. We had been warned that the mud would be tricky to navigate through, as this is the rainy season in Rwanda, but we were not expecting the amount of mud we were met with. The views were beautiful on our way but it took all of my physical and mental strength to continue to the top. To say we were trudging through the mud would be an understatement. Our feet were being sunk deeper with every step into the thick volcanic sludge. I pushed and pushed and pushed. With the help of a portar, a native of the area that assists on hikes, who eventually carried my bag and sometimes my hand, I continued up the volcano knowing that the peak would be worth it. My breathing was slow, my legs were numb, and my shoes were giant blocks of mud but I made it to the top. I was able to breath fresh air and have a chuckle. “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Thanks Master Yoda.

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