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Lesson number one: It's ok to ACCEPT help. And it’s ok to ASK for help. I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m stubborn, and fiercely independent. Asking for help would certainly show how “weak” I am - I can certainly do anything without anyone at any time. And now, re-reading that last sentence makes me cringe! How can anyone do anything all the time without any help? It’s not physically possible, nor is it mentally healthy. I certainly learned this lesson the hard way by one of the most gracious people out there. On day two of the Camino Inka, we ascended to Warmiwañusca or Warmihuañusca ("Dead Woman's Pass"), which, at 4215 m above sea level, is the highest elevation on the Inca Trail. (Note: I was nauseated, light-headed, and out of breath more than just a few times during this portion of the trail. Thank goodness for Alfredo, our main-squeeze tour guide, and his Agua de Florida, to alleviate these symptoms). Slowly, but surely, we all made it!

Bakasana on top of Dead Woman's Pass

But of course, after ascending, one must descend. Moving through the clouds made the already slick steps more slippery, even with my decent hiking boots. Not paying attention, I slipped once, landing on my rear-end. No harm done. “Try to step on the rocks that slope backwards, or descend sideways,” says Raul, one of our guides who was a few steps behind me. Embarrassed that he saw, I thanked him, and kept on going. Not 5 minutes later, I slipped and fell for the second time. Again, no harm done PHYSICALLY, but now my ego was deeply bruised and I began to tear up. Raul IMMEDIATELY ran to my side, took one of my hiking poles, and linked his arm into mine. “I do not want you to fall again, and I will help you get down these steps.” Now, the waterworks started and my vision became cloudy. These tears of embarrassment quickly turned into tears of thankfulness that someone helped me during a time of external (and internal) chaos. I kept thanking him over and over again. “It is no problem,'' he says. “We are amigos and amigos help each other.” By the time we reached our next stopping point, my heart was full, and my ego had rightfully snuck its way back into the shadows. So to those who are (were) like me, graciously welcome the assistance that is offered to you, no matter how small. You won’t regret it. Sulpayki, Raul, for reminding me to accept help.

Raul and I

To be continued...

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