Very powerful story about the realities of immigration status that looks beyond the media’s boxed view of what it means to be undocumented.
THIS IS THE POINT FUJI GOT REAL!!
You know that feeling you have when you first wake up from a nap… The feeling of wanting to slowly wake up, get use to your surroundings, stretch. Yeah, well none that happened for me.
After waking up from a nightmare that bugs were crawling on me and being cold I was jerked awake by Rupert telling me it was time to go as if we were late for something. I jumped from the top bunk of what looked like a huge bunk bed. We would hike in dark up Mt. Fuji from station seven.
The trail would become even more difficult. We found ourselves climbing over rocks trying to dodge the ledges thankfully we had good weather and only dealt with rough winds at times. Thank goodness for warm clothing! Safe to say it was cold! After hours of hiking and stumbling over rocks, it seemed as though we would never get to the top. The mountain was crowded with people! This was a Thursday night / Friday morning, I could only imagine what a Friday / Saturday would look like. We heard conversations, chants, random noises, radios, ect. Definitely not so peaceful.
Hours in I would see the same young elementary school boy that impressed me in the daylight by 2am was in tears crying from frustration and probably pain and lack of sleep.I felt his pain… I would also have an old man fall flat on his face about 30 minutes later! Honestly, I couldn’t help him. I was so tired that I knew if I tried we would both end up on the ground.
Looking forward and backwards we could see nothing but headlamps of people miles ahead and behind us, everyone with relatively the same goal, make it to the top before sunrise. Around 4 daylight would start to break through the clouds. It was honestly a bit discouraging. We looked up and saw tons of people miles ahead of us and my goal changed from making it before sunrise to just making it to the top! Throughout my heart would beat way to fast, head would ache and altitude would cause dizzyness. I would have to stop get water and catch my breath bc I definitely wasn’t trying to end up on the news for dying on Fuji!
As the sun began to peak above the clouds you could hear the roars and cheers from people whom had made it to the top. Beautiful faces of all races of people who had all come for the same thing! People from all over the world (mostly Japan of course) filled the mountain peak.
It took about 5 minutes for me to actually calm down stop and appreciate the moment of what was just accomplished. As I searched for the rest of my team I would meet each of them individually, between bathroom runs, taking pictures and or just finding a place to sit down.
Dez and I would take pictures of the sunrise before I finally sat down with my sister madi and waited for my brother Rupert. I ordered ramen for ¥1000. I was so tired I found my self dozing off and napping (I’ve been told this is a bad idea at such high elevation).
We stayed on top of the mountain for about 2.5 hours just enjoying the moment and mostly looking for each other to take pictures and waiting on one another to receive the final stamps on our sticks.
Our journey down would be a long one… A very long one. About 2 hours down Madi and I realized that the trail we took down was much easier than the one we took up. After putting together this mystery and realizing there were too many elders and children on this trail headed up the mountain. We had seen both on our climb up, but definitely not as many as we saw headed up. We realized Rupert had chosen to take the expert trail. While this honestly made me a little angry at first, we had made it… The past was the past.. Plus it was his birthday so this really was a senseless argument.
After a few near ankle sprains a meeting between my bottom and the ground, a headache, thirst and some bathroom breaks, we finally made it down to the 5th station a few hours later.
We took the bus for an hour down to the train station, hopped in a taxi and would arrive at our ryokan (traditional japanese hotel) 2 hours before check in. We’d use their free wifi, eat at the karaoke restaurant across the street check in, shower and I would fall asleep by 430pm until the next morning!
Definitely have to be careful about my healthkick. I just made teriyaki chicken last night…