The Vicious Vandering of the Virunga Volcano (yes, that is how wandering is actually written)

We write the year 2015. It was in the fair month of October when three adventurous travelers decided to leave their vast residence in the grand metropolitan hub called Kigali to widen their vision and search for new lands. But quitting the district was not that easy. Spies and subordinates to the cruel Lord Kagame (who is in many parts of the empire known under the fearful acronym of “THE MILKMAN”) where all around the city. Therefore, the two pledged the royal servants for a travel permission, which would allow them to move freely and visit the neighboring regions. As the servants were under the curse of slow-processing and laziness the travelers waisted a lot of time. Still, by the use of incredible charm and fast motos they arrived at the grand station of Nyabugogo where merchants, peasants and the alike met to start their journeys to all parts of the country. It was dark, the lights were shining and Leo obtained the last samosas from a friendly vendor.
After a bumpy journey through the lucious green pastures and the hills, which the travelers could only imagine by analyzing the distribution of the light spots and the ascension of the roads, they arrived in the city of Musanze. Getting out of the coach they were hosted in a vast mansion, which was owned by the count of “Winnaz” ; the owner of the one and only chips factory in Rwanda, who had started his entrepreneurial journey in march to spread his dutch chipsmaking skills to the population. As a sign of his grace he even provided a mattress, which helped the travelers to refill their energy reserves for the upcoming journey.

First Impressions of the Volcano
As the sun crawls up the hills, the young explorers make last preparations before heading to the foot of the great Mount Bisoke. The smell of water, ascending into the air from the grass, driven by the warmth of the sun, hits their noses. The fields shine in a vibrant mix of green and white, still covered by the mist of the night.

VolcanoesEdward, the ceaseless hiker, conqueror of the Virunga forest and friend of the mountain gorillas, shows them the way up to the volcano.
The explorers from Kigali are surrounded by fellow travelers. It is yet to show whether all of them are prepared for the journey. Having the image of the crater lake, on the top of the hill engraved into their naive minds they start hiking up the small paths and tracks. On the left trees, to the right bushes, plants and leaves. In their ears, the voices and sounds of the inhabitants of the rainforest. The mood is high. The mind set. The path which has been created by former visitors is steep, but signs of exhaustion are yet to come. The wanderers are focused on their next step. One of them is chanting to keep up the mood. Then suddenly, while Angmar is sharing some peanuts and the first bananas are consumed to provide energy,
rain is coming.

Facing Reality

First, a light drizzle. Enjoyable, as it cools down the sweaty skin. Then, thunder evolves through the valley and the surrounding volcanoes. Floods are starting to fall, as raincoats are used to cover body and luggage. The path continues, just like the rain. It does not stop from falling out of the grey clouds and slowly the joyous journey turns into a fight.
Human versus nature, good against evil, concentration needed to avoid that single wrong step, that could leave you falling down the slope of the hill.
The eyes and the sounds of the hikers show that they are just now starting to realize the harsh reality of their decision. Still, the top of the hill in their head, they continue as the path turns in to a river, the ground turns into slippery mud and the dry fabric turns into soaked clothes.

The top is still far away, but Simon an unprepared fellow, is struggling harder and harder. He slips, gets back up again — continuously, repeatedly. As his trousers and the red Manchester United shirt are getting dirtier, his mood drops. He is breathing heavily.
The community has to take a decision. Simon is left on the way, the group has to move forward. One casualty is accepted to reach their goal. A selfless companion agrees to guide him down the slope, which is loosing grip with every second.

Winter is coming !
The remaining trek is slowly climbing up the hill. Exhaustion is showing from the stressed worn out faces, but step by step they are ascending. As they move up to higher spheres, the air is getting thinner. The first ones, ahead of the track are quitting the forest, and with it the protection from the wind which is now rummaging through their bodies making the wet clothes which are glued to their bodies feel even less comfortable. The feet, soaked by the ceaseless streams which are making their way down the mountain, slowly lose feeling. The body is starting to shake, as a reaction to the cold that spreads through it. One of the explorers is trying hard to hold on to his fork, trying to fill his stomach with the noodles of yesterdays evening as quickly as possible.
The ascension continues and then, finally they reach the promising, wonderful, thrilling sign, that marks the top of the volcano. 3711 meters over the ground level, the wind is pushing harder then before. While some are exhausted, almost disrupted by the cold, trying to get some feeling back into their extremities, others are opening a bottle of Turbo King to celebrate the arrival. As big cheers are proclaimed, the group starts dancing, to overshadow the fact, that the expected view of the crater lake is going to stay a mere imagination, as it is blocked by grey clouds and fog. They are trying to force themselves, to enjoy being on top of the active volcano which last erupted in 1957. The mood is ambivalent.

Falling Action
While being proud of the successful ascension, they know that the way down the muddy slides will not be much easier then the way up.
As some travelers are forcing themselves, trying carefully not to slip, other comrades are experiencing heroic feelings as they are sliding down the hill, while the Lord of the Rings soundtrack seems to be playing in their heads. Feeling of warmth, joy and glory are returning to the wrecked bodies. The new enthusiasm is emphasized by war paint made out of the wet soil which now marks the faces of our little group.

The Hobbits
The Hobbits

The following excerpt which involves a warning from Brea (who had initiated the trip as part of her anniversary ceremonies), gorilla excrements and the first downfall of Leo was cut out by the editor. The immunity of the involved subjects must be provided.

As Angmar, Alessa and Leo quote songs from the infamous bard Peter Fox. They are enjoying the beautiful views of the surrounding volcanoes. Then, silence. The group is stopping. Brea is pointing in to the bushes about 50 meters in front of them. 8 pairs of eyes are focussing. A black spot is evolving from the green environment. 4 humongous legs are surpassing the ground. The group is standing, no movement, just pure amazement by the image of the beautiful Silverback Gorilla which is strolling through the plants looking for some food to provide his massive 200kg-body with energy.

The actual silverback
The actual silverback gorilla

After a few minutes he heads out into the forest, leaving a group of happy and exhausted travelers, covered in mud which is now desperately trying to catch the last coach back to Kigali.
Accompanied by laughs and curious looks, which are provoked by the muddy faces and the dirty bare feet Leo and Alessa arrive back at Nyabugogo. The feet are now touching the steel of the motos, feeling the movement of the engine as they are heading back to their home.

The End

Leo, Alessa and Brea (the birthday girl)
Leo, Alessa and Brea (the birthday girl)

One thought on “The Vicious Vandering of the Virunga Volcano (yes, that is how wandering is actually written)

  1. You’re awesome Leo 🙂 Read your whole story and that sounds like such a Wonderful experience 🙂 Miss you lots, stay safe, but still have fun 😉 haha! Hope to hear more of your German-Rwandan stories 🙂
    Take care!
    Your favorite Canadian,
    Sarah Labelle


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