We all enjoyed every moment of this brush with nature in all its glory and watching the Mama Gorilla with her new born was intense.. so beautiful and so intense! For most of us our Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda was already a success.
Click here to read Part 1 of this story: Uncomfortably Close Part 1
In some time Patrick asked us to move along and wanted to make us see the leader.. the big Silverback Mountain Gorilla. Post a ten minute very steep trek… there they were! Some 7 or more gorillas all around us.. just busy eating and grooming! At this point I really need you to indulge me and visualize this.
So I’m standing awkwardly at a slippery slope with my Go Pro hanging on one wrist and my Iphone in the other hand. Suresh is on my left, my Argentinian friend Elie is on my right sitting on the ground for a better angle of the Great Silverback, Gicurasi, who is about 8-10 meters away under a thick layer of leaves. Patrick is standing behind her and is ready to offer support to me at any time now. There are some bamboos that have fallen in front of me and 3 young gorillas are sitting on them. One on my left.. pretty close, one with his back towards me and the last one on my far right. Again; the silverback is about 8-10 meters on my right. We all take our share of pics and that when Patrick says “Ok we have disturbed them enough, lets leave and let them eat in peace” We all immediately comply.
But I wasn’t satisfied with the pics of the silverback.. so I gave my Iphone to Patrick and asked him to take some pics cause he had a better angle. In that time, Elie got up and moved towards the exit and I moved closer to Patrick to make way for her. And right then… The Silverback got up… He just stood up and without a second’s delay I squatted down in the fetal position. Patrick chuckled saying, “ He’s not attacking you” It wasn’t funny to me and I was not gonna take annnnny chances now was I? I “shushhh”d him and tried to look up and around.. he was coming towards me and I was sure he was gonna go past me onto the trees where the rest of them were.
I was wrong again… he came and sat right in front of me.. like.. yes.. yessss.. in front.. barely 3-4 meters away. And yaa.. all the profane ways you can imagine to express how scared I was.. I was! But the fact that I was alive was also making this very exciting.. I turned on my Go Pro very slowly cause I definitely didn’t need any zoom. I captured him and panned to the other Gorillas on the fallen trees still. I was right behind.. like absolutely right behind the middle one whose back was towards me. . Patrick decided to return my phone to me at this moment saying.. you have a better angle now. I did! It couldn’t have been better. So I turned off my Go Pro and took my Iphone to get for pics for the blog.
My Gorilla Trekking encounter was yet to happen. You remember the name of this blog.. Uncomfortably Close? That’s when it happened! While I was in the turmoil of mixed emotions of fear and excitement and just feeling so blessed to have had this close encounter.. the gorilla infront of me decided to FART! Yes! You read it right, remember the one whose ass was about 3 meters away from my face…???? He farted! And not just a fart.. the wettest, loudest and longest fart evvvvvvver! His fart was in my face, the smell in my mouth and lungs, bouts of laughter in my throat, gag reflexes in my chest, fear on my mind, excitement fading to disbelief and all this happening on a slippery slope with my Go Pro, my Iphone and Patrick staring at me not to laugh! Knock yourself out cause I already was Knocked out!
Gorilla Trekking wasn’t over! I still had to walk back through all the nettle and hardships. And not throw up! No not to avoid embarrassment but because Gorillas are very vulnerable to our cough, cold and other infections. The walk back as usual turned out to be harder for me. The thing is… when you have rods, climbing up is still manageable but going downhill is very very hard. Within half an hour I was in proper pain.
The thing is… When I had gone through my accidents, I thought people in general were very rude. I was on crutches for a year and limping for another year and they would always ask me very heartlessly what was wrong with my leg or why I was limping. You don’t understand.. I was trying to forget my accident and get on with my life and create a positive frame of mind… and their thoughtless curiosity used to scar my already vulnerable confidence. It’s not like I had a fun story to share.. or for that matter any one has a fun story they are dying to share if they are limping. At first I used to really explain the whole story and later cry in the toilet, then I made a short version of it and finally started being rude back at them. I would say “it’s a sad sad story and I don’t wanna talk about it”
Once I started walking normal, I think psychologically I was still defensive and not ok with letting anyone know I was less capable. So I never told anyone in the group that I had a problem. But with every step.. I became slower. Even though I didn’t take many breaks.. I was delaying the whole group. The young ones started leading and were soon out of sight completely. Suresh and Elie were with me, keeping pace and I shared my problem with them. But inside me I was very mad at me.. I didn’t know why.. but I was. Elie was walking behind me and I was trying to tell her in a breathless and no eye contact manner… something.. something I was still vulnerable about and failing to do so.. so badly!
I think I felt most crushed when I saw the other half of my group sitting bored at the end of the hill. They looked like they had been waiting for a long long time and I apologized. I apologized and had to tell them that I was sorry to make them wait but I was slow due to the rods in my leg. It killed me. I enjoy when people can’t tell that I have a supposed handicap and now I had gone through the process of apologizing for it and explaining myself. I was crying very hard inside.. I was in pain physically and emotionally.
But I have a Solution based brain. Once I know there is a problem I have to fix it. Step one is accepting there is a problem. My problem was that I had a complex towards my fix ups. I had a need to be accepted as able bodied. Well.. I’m not! But I have a spirit that clearly over compensates for it. 😊 There will always be obnoxious people who will think their curiosity is perhaps caring.. well just for them.. lemme spell it… It’s not. People who have gone through accidents don’t like to be asked how it happened. If you are close enough to them, they will bare their stories themselves. Please never ask people why they limp or how they got that scar.. It’s really not nice and can damage our confidence.
Climbing and gorilla trekking the Virungas changed me. I was educated about the wonderful species of mountain gorillas, I was inspired by Dian Fossey, I was humbled by these gentle giants, I was empowered about my strengths and accepting of my short-comings.
I got uncomfortably close not just to the gorillas but myself too. When others tried making fun of my “being farted on” story my instant come back was… “How long did it take for you to fart a wet smelly one in front of someone? Hunh?? Hunhhh??? .. Well that’s how well I was accepted in Pablo’s family. We were just that close instantly” hahahahaha! And about me.. what surfaced was an issue deep inside and I’m glad it came up and I think I’ve been able to resolve it.. I’m a work in progress you see.. hahahahah! And I’m comfortable with that.
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