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The adventurer within me sought excitement and the value received after accomplishing a great feat. Who else did I know could say they scaled the tallest mountain in West Africa? The guidebooks said the trek up Ghana’s Mount Afadjato would last two hours – one hour to climb, and one hour to descend. That was nothing too terrible, as far as I knew.  Only last year, I’d climbed to the top of Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat peak, taking about the same amount of time.

I’m not a physically fit person, and, combined with inappropriate footwear (whoever said Crocs made for good hiking shoes!?), I lagged behind the group. Our local guide, thin as a rail, never stopped to breathe or have a drink water. He also completed the climb in flip-flops alone.  I on the other hand, stopped every ten minutes to prevent impeding asthma attacks, and gulp down water from plastic sacks.

I made it to the top!

I made it to the top!

“Across the way,” our guide tells the four of us. “Is Togo. That other peak, is a different country.”

Borders have always fascinated me – how are they so definite when, like the mountain-range between Ghana and Togo, the world “gets in the way.” If I hike down one side of this mountain, I’ll be in a completely new country. Was it really that simple? No border police? No visa applications? I won’t get my passport stamped, but at least I’d be there.

Looking over at Togo from the border of Ghana

Looking over at Togo from the border of Ghana

There’s not much room at the top of Mount Afadjato. Any grand movements can result in a deadly fall.  The peak is best suited for sitting quietly anyway.  A bit of meditation, and some light reflection after a difficult climb, is cleansing.

I faced the challenge.  I faced another country, mere miles away.