August 08, 2006

an old write on my mt fuji climb

Conquering Fuji-san (and Forgetting Papa-san)

"You're a fool if you don't climb Mt. Fuji. You'realso a fool if you climb it more than once." A friend related this old Japanese proverb while we were aboard the bus headed to the sleeping volcano, which is the highest peak in Japan. I remember only smiling in reply to that spoken maxim while my drowsy head drifted off to thoughts that went "Hahay! Mt. Fuji won't be as exciting as it should be had he come along! Humph! Oh well, I guess I'll just have to turn on my radar alert for some cute boondocks Japanese guy lurking among the shrubberies on the mountain!" heaving with disappointment at the guy whom I’ve laid twinkling eyes on and who was supposed to go with us but was nowhere beside me (because I’d be sitting beside him if he came along).

Well, back to reality where my butt, back and legs ached for better reclining space on my bus seat, I pondered on what my friend said. Hmmm, it wouldn't be really hard trekking Fuji-san, as the mountain is commonly called among the Japanese people. I had a very trying feat at Banaue where I climbed mountains, slid hand in hand with friends down rocky slopes, walked on the narrow paths of the rice terraces with thick mud on the left side and ravine on the other and descended to what seemed like a million steps down tothe Batad waterfall haven! And I surmounted this 10 hour trek back and forth with only the expected sweat and panting, little bruises and scratches here andthere, a victorious grin and nary exhaustion and regret. So, I thought, Fuji-san would be, more or less, conquered similarly. But, oh boy, I never imagined that I'd be greeted with mixed surprises along the way!

Our bus arrived at the 5th station of the mountain at around 8 PM. (There are supposedly 9 stations before the peak of the mountain could be reached. But I tell you there were a gazillion of them!) We, along with the other climbers, went to what seemed to me was an inn slash grocery store to change into our "mountain climbing gears". Uhm, what climbing gear? Oh, I didn't have them because it was an unplanned trip for me. Having gone only with my friends along with the foremost hope that the object of my affection, err, interest (too early to use affection) would be there to catch me in his sweet-scented sweaty arms during my dramatized tripping and falling along the way, I left all my rugged stuffs in the Philippines including my rubber shoes! Anyways, since it was drizzling and quite cold, I put on a long-sleeved shirt on top of the short-sleeved one I already wore. Then I put on a borrowed winter jacket. Then tadaaa! I was already in my climbing gear: two layers of shirt beneath an oversized winter jacket, Penshoppe jeans, and my favorite black leatherette shoes! Then I stowed inside the locker that we rented some of my stuff comprising of: cologne, soap and shampoo, towel, sleeveless shirt, short shorts, and other thingies that would never protect me from the cold. Earlier, my friends told me, through their laughter, that I was probably going to take a bath in a hot spring and not go trekking! "Well, aren't there bathrooms and washrooms at the summit?” I thought.

And so the mountain's spirit beckoned us to start the climb! But before I could really answer to that sultry call, I had to debate with my pocket if I should allow my money to be traded with a stick with a couple of bells and a Japanese flag tied to it. Well, everybody bought one so I finally bought one also! When we went outside, the climbers gathered in the midst of drizzle, slight haze and wind and listened to the supposedly funny (the Japanese people were constantly laughing) talks of some mountaineers, whom I found out later as volunteer guides, at the center. And my, my, my heavens! A Jet Li look-alike stood on the boulder, where the speakers took turns during their speech, when it was his turn to talk. Hmmm, cute guy alarm full force!!! "I'll have a word with him later!” I promised myself. Then a guy in front started demonstrating physical stretches while shouting something I couldn't figure out. Since everybody followed his exercises, my friends and I too followed suit. Then at around 9 PM, we started our ascent excited with the thought of reaching the peak on time to catch the glory of the sun's rising! Then my, my, my heavens for the second time! Our volunteer guide turned out to be the Jet Lilook-alike! He introduced himself in Nihongo (Japanese) to our group. Since I was the only one whose jaw dropped because of not understanding what he said, I daintily moved closer to him and said, "Sumimasen, anata wa eigo ga dekimasu ka?” (Translation: Excuse me, do you speak English?) To which he answered positively that he could. I looked at the heavens with closed eyes to thank God of this rare blessing! And so I told him that he looked like Jet Li. He thanked me for the compliment and I gave him the shy smile I give to cute guys on first meetings! Well, I couldn't keep Mr. Li to myself (after learning that he traveled a lot, went to school here and there, lived here and there, worked here and there) because he had to be everywhere to shout "Mamboooooo!". To which we had to reply "Mamboooooo!" also. At first, I thought that it was something to keep our trek lively but later on I thought that it was really something to determine if we were still alive!

I kept on leaving my friends behind so I would talk to other climbers. I chanced upon the petite girl who was constantly with my Jet Li prince. I struck a conversation with her because she knew little English. And then my heart sank in an abyss of hopelessness! She said that the Jet Li guy was her husband! But I just had to swallow my despair, smile and go on with the "nice" chat. (FYI, I'm nice!) She suddenly asked me if I had a lover. I simply answered that I had none and was still waiting for that someone to come. To which she then said, "Oh, waiting for your princess!"I really couldn't take it at this point anymore! So I gave her a smile while concentrating on heavy panting instead of talking. And inch-by-inch I tried to mix with the haze and slowly evaporated away from our chitchat! While I slowed my pace away from her, these words were echoing in my head: "I'm the princessssss!!!"

To set the record straight, I'm gay! (No pun intended!) Well, I had to transform my Jet Li prince into a frog so that I could nurse my bruised heart and ego easily! And so I had to wait for my friends to catch up with me. I started chatting with my friend's Thai friend. I found out that he's intelligent, a better English speaker and most importantly, cute! And so I went walking and climbing rocks merrily while flipping my short hair when telling stories or answering his questions. And I kept on motioning to my friends behind to just follow the tracks of the drag queen and her escort.

Fuji-san was probably jealous of my new Thai friend. At the 7th station, he blew cold winds and sent rain to impede us in our ascent. But the unpredictably prepared gay scout that I am took out my raincoat, which I called a transparent trench coat but my friends called Matrix' Neo-inspired costume, and donned it with the flair of a supermodel. But as we approached the 8th station, the cold started to take its toll on me. I could already feel the weight of my backpack, my tired legs and feet, my heavy eyes and head, my numb and sore toes and hands due to the cold, no sleep and inadequate protective clothing. Luckily, I was able to protect my hands from freezing! I wore as gloves the extra socks I brought! It was kind of embarrassing because it wasn't the best looking of its kind! But what was a helpless, hopeless but petite, pretty homosexual trying to keep his wit intact to do? Fashion was becoming the least of my concern then! At least I was still able to make the already despondent group laugh!

Our adventure turned out to be an ordeal as our shivering and aching bodies still went onwards. At station 8, I already wanted to surrender but I was motivated to go on after seeing old people and children went ahead of us. And despite that quote from the Bible that kept reverberating in my head: "The spirit is willing but the body is weak", my spirit was strong enough to prod my feet to keep on moving!

Well, we reached the point where we could already see the top. The climbers were slower because it was colder, the rocks were sharper and the ravines were steeper. At around 5:30 AM, the sun started to rise! It's magnificence and glory was greeted by the Japanese people with "Ohhhh! Ahhhh! Sugoi ne!"(Translation: Ohhhh! Ahhhh! It's great!) amid clickingof cameras! It was indeed orgasmic, in fairness to the sun! (Kahit walang in fairness, actually!) But my friends and I were too tired to take shots so we just bathe in the tingling heat of the sun that slowly rose above the clouds!

After the sun's short-lived glorious rising show, we continued climbing to the top; already thankful of the heat seeping in the cold fog. Finally we reached the peak at 6 AM. Tired is such an understatement and too short a word to describe our condition! My friend coined the words "lost in the wilderness" for them and"a rape victim" for me! That's when I realized thatFuji-san was indeed a man because he raped the helpless, hapless me. We rested for only 3 hours at the peak; waiting in line at the toilets, eating bland expensive ramen, sleeping for an hour, buying souvenirs, and taking 3 or 4 pictures. Harassed as I was, my cute guy radar was still on! There were a bunch of tall, lanky and handsome Caucasians and many cute anime-looking Japanese guys. And I could not help thinking of the guy who was supposed to go with us. Humph! He would have served another purpose. Aside from inspiration and catching me from my falls, I would have had him carry my bag! And how could I not mention my cute Thai friend who already ignored me at the top because of a headache? But all these papa-sans weren't any consolation at all. If they gave me a massage at the volcano's crater then that would have made me their worshipper forever! (But they had and have to worship me first!)

At 9 AM, we started our descent. It was another occasion of Fuji-san raping me! For more than 4 hours we walked, ran and slid down a rocky slope against a combination of fog, glaring heat and later on rain before we reached the 5th station. We were 100% exhaustion and hunger personified! I looked like a rape victim lost in the wilderness!

"Anyone who doesn't climb Mt. Fuji is a fool, but anyone who climbs it twice is twice the fool." My friend said yesterday that this is the correct translation of the old proverb. Fuji-san will only remain a memory of an adventure slash ordeal for me. Though it only looked barren at the peak, the picturesque sea of clouds that surrounded us and the magnificence of the sun rising above the clouds will forever be imprinted in my camera mind. But I am nevergoing back there! I guess that makes me wise, huh!? I can never imagine being raped by a mountain again!

Uhm, wait, wait, and wait! I think I just heard someone say that HE's planning to go there! Do I need to pack now??? Well, I guess I'm a fool for love, err, this man!

emmanv 07/30/2003

i wrote this as an account for my climb in mt fuji on july 26, 2003 with rachel, nene, alvin, and boy

1 comment:

poeticnook said...

hi =) musta na?