Sunday, March 14, 2010

it's about the journey not the destination

"It's about the journey not the destination." This is one of my favourite mantras, something I want to emulate. I often but not always manage to live by that philosophy.

This weekend I experienced an unusual but lovely illustration of this principle. The entire staff of my programme went to the mountains for three days to participate in a training for emergency response. Since I really didn't want to be left alone in our Indonesian village, I tagged along, but managed to secure myself a spot in the one car instead of the two big buses.

As we drove to Bukittingi, a city far from everything but nonetheless a municipality in its own right, which apparently was the capital of Indonesia for one year in the 1940s, the drive was absolutely scenic. We drove along a river with roaring rapids. Then we came to a lake that is so big it has its own beach resorts. Then we turned left to head up into the mountains.

When we started up the hill, my colleague said, "This road has 44 turns, and at turn number 12 you can see an amazing view." I pledged to count the turns so as not to miss the view. I'm a sucker for eye candy.

We started up the hill and I started counting the switchbacks. One... Two... Three - wait a second! There was a sign with a big "3" written on it. Not only that, but there was a decorative brick monument covered with flowers, apparently part of an "adopt-a-switchback" programme with local businesses.

All the way up to number 44, at each turn we were treated to a reminder of our progress and something lovely to look at.

I don't know what my colleague meant about the view from turn #12, because while the view at 12 was lovely, so was the view at 13, 14, 15 and 44.

Right around #20, we started passing monkeys. Dozens and dozens of monkeys popping out from the jungle, so frantically that I was sure there were hundreds if not thousands more where they came from. Sometimes the monkeys stared at us, sometimes they smiled at us and sometimes they entertained us. All the way up the mountain - and as we headed back down again today.

The road is too narrow and the switchbacks too precarious for sightseers to realistically consider stopping to enjoy the mountain road. We just had to enjoy the numbers, monuments and monkeys as a part of the journey.

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