Endurance- the term conjures up images of marathons, of triathlons, of long hours of effort compensated by the sense of accomplishment. I once remembered watching a telecast on the TV of a desert marathon in the Sahara- the participants ran in the night but ever segment was pure agony- pure polarised agony- no escaping the punishing trails. The reward must have been worth it. Personally I’m not a marathon person. I’m normally not someone who gives into heroics. I have a clear idea of what I’m capable of and what I’m not and tend to steer away from extreme things. However there is one event that is etched in my memory- there was nothing spectacular or heroic about it when looked at it from the perspective of a normal person. But it was different for me and when I was done with it I was so completely happy and proud of myself. Let me tell you what happened.
So last year, I went on a short vacation to Siem Reap in Cambodia. My trip was just for 4 days and I had planned for a long day of sightseeing on every day. To my dismay I came down with a sore throat and fever on the very afternoon I landed in Cambodia. I hoped that a good night’s sleep would help me recover and that I would feel fine the next day but I didn’t. But I couldn’t push the sightseeing any further so I started off to Angkor Thom the next morning after a measly breakfast (not many options in the buffet for non egg eating veggies). I felt ok to start off with but within 2 hours I was close to fainting- my fever had returned and I had no option but to cancel that morning’s sightseeing and return to the hotel to sleep. This was terrible for me- it wasn’t like I could return to Cambodia every other month and I had sunk in a lot of effort and money into the trip so it was a disappointment to get back to the hotel. But it was also necessary if I needed to have any chance of recovery. So I took my meds, had a pizza for lunch and slept wishing my illness away.
After a few hours of sleep I felt a little better once again and I braved out to do some sightseeing again. The paracetamol kept the fever under control and even though it was a bit difficult I stuck with it and visited Angkor Wat and Ta Phrom- two of the most spectacular temples in the Siem Reap area. Once again it was back to the hotel and sleep for me.
The next day I felt a bit better but the fever still kept me a bit weakened. I did a bit of sightseeing- reduced from what I had originally planned but nothing that exhausted me.
By the third day the fever had gone so I felt brave enough to wake up at 3.30 in the morning to head to Angkor Wat for the sunrise. Then a visit to Banteay Srei. The last part of the trip was the one I most remember when I think of endurance. It was a climb up the hill to visit Kabal Spean. The climb up the hill is what could be described as a cake walk to experienced trekkers/ hikers. I’ve never been a great climber. Somehow my muscles tend to freeze and I get stressed- this is in the best of days. So fevered out, tired and hungry with not quite the best pair of shoes I don’t know what got into my head to try it.
And I was right. I kept slipping- my heart was beating at twice the normal rate and I kept looking at the distance boards wondering how much longer a kilometre and a half could be. It was the longest and most tiring climb and descent of my life. And I did slip on my way back and landed up stubbing my toe quite bad (and pushing my guide accidentally when he tried to help me- he got a bad bruise and scratch as well- thanks to me- sorry!) But when I got back to the first signboard, I felt like I had conquered the world. I felt so proud of myself that I could go back eat a heavy breakfast at a small roadside restaurant and drink a huge cup of coconut water. It was quite probably the best breakfast of my life.
So this was my endurance test- one of the few- but one of the more memorable and happy ones.
The A to Z challenge is also a kind of endurance test. How many of us are going to make it through the alphabets that are left?