So, we set off for the mountains, me, dad, mom and a group of friends that included also little Cristiana, my seven years and a half old pupil. Please always mention the half because she is very touchy about this!
We were heading for the tops of the Godeanu mountains, the Gugu Mountain actually, considered by some to be the Sacred Mountain of the Dacians, our ancestors. The story is that this is the place where Zamolxe, the god of the Dacians, spent years in solitude, living in a small cave and ruling the great people of the Dacians.
We all loaded the cars, Cristiana with wide opened eyes filled with excitement and set off for the heart of the mountains. We reached the big dam in the mountains and we were to drive for another 20 minutes before reaching the starting point of our alpine itinerary when all of a sudden we meet a host of sheep led by two shepherds. No way to go any further so we stopped the car to let the sheep walk past us.
Such an exotic situation. To stay like this, surrounded by 2000 sheep, donkeys, dogs and shepherds. As we were all watching the show in amazement we hear Cristiana saying: Goshhh! These sheep are so slow. I feel I grow old here! Finally the herd of sheep overtake us, leaving Cristiana quite old and ruined behind and we manage to get to the road that goes over the Lapusnic river, where we have to leave our cars.
We start by following the river till we meet the markings. The trail is climbing directly the steep slope. This is going to be a good training for me and dad. Mount Giluwe from Papua New Guinea awaits us.
Come on, Cristiana, you can do it! It seems a bit funny to tell Cristiana the same words my father were saying to me when we climbed Elbrus in the snowstorm.A little bit more and we reach the refuge. You can do it Cristiana!
And we kept on climbing, and climbing through the beautiful forest. And by the way, where is the refuge? Because Cristiana seems to be a little anxious. But here it is. We all feel relieved and wait for Cristiana’s reaction. I have been here before, and refuges, I have seen a trainload, but for the little girl this is the first one.
She steps in and: Whoua! This is great! she says as her eyes get used to the dark inside. It’s alright!She likes it.
We take a break for a while in the shadow offered by the little shelter while enjoying the scenery around us. Then we set off again. It is still a long way in front of us. And filled with obstacles and dangers, like the tasty blackberries that threaten to delay us a little bit too long.
Another hour of walking and lunch break. Cristiana eats her sandwiches in a heartbeat. We look uphill. The trail seems to stretch for ever.The peak can be seen far away. So far away. I start walking with Cristiana on my wake, leaving the other ones behind so that I can initiate her in the deep mysteries of mountain climbing.
‘Look, Cristiana, you stop and breathe quickly, like Cora, our German shepherd, and then deep as I told you. OK?’ ‘OK!’ answers Cristiana, who, for my biggest relief, seems to be a very keen and eager student. I am so proud of her. Only now and then I can hear her mumbling: Alex, are we there yet? But it’s bearable and she is a good child.
And this lasted till I explained to her that is not good for her moral to ask this kind of questions and just to keep walking. One foot in front of the other. I can see in my head my dad doing the same with another little girl, years ago. A little bit more and we reach the peak. Or at least this is what we thought till we realized we had 2 more slopes to climb. Dad became very popular with the ladies in the group. That is why I like him. He knows how to motivate people.
But, little by little, singing, joking and some of us even swearing, we made it to the top. We drop our backpacks and wait for Cristiana to show up. And when she did what a welcome party awaited her. Me and dad tossed her in the air while shouting: Bravo Cristiana! You made it!
Poor child could not stop from laughing. It took a long time to see that victory smile wear off her face.
There is a big pile of stones on the peak and when she saw me perched on top of it she made very clear her intention to do the same thing. So that we have now the picture of a winner, together with her parents on top of Gugu mountain at 2291m. A small event for the human kind, a great victory for a little child. And me.
And let me now introduce to you my little friend, neighbour, and actual student: Cristiana Gugulana.