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The Great Wall

Hello Yakkers,  Get comfortable, because you’re in for a story.

We have been in Beijing for two days, and have just recently finished our 5/5 rugged travel trek to the Great Wall. You may be wondering, “Why is the 6-week language intensive program doing rugged travel?” Well, let me explain. As a previous Yak post mentioned, Beijing’s weather is very remarkable. As many of you may not know, the temperature in Beijing can reach up to 101 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Now that, on top of the fact that the air itself sweats (it’s very humid here), makes it feel like we are in an 150 degree sauna. I will say that it is bearable with the assistance of some air conditioning.
Now, prior to embarking on our journey, it was noted that the temperature was very pleasurable today as it was much more mild. Unfortunately, the humidity was still present. On a side note, it is not too well known, but cicadas love hot environments. Remember that for later. So, we began to climb the tall, step, slightly damp hill to reach a remote section of the Great Wall. Shortly after starting, we began to understand why this could have the potential to be a Hurt Locker Situation. “What’s that”, you may ask? A Hurt Locker Situation is a term based on the famous movie about defusing bombs in Iraq coined by our own Ross Killion. Although we were not defusing bombs, or were in any sort of danger for that matter, the climb was definitely Hurt Locker. You see, because of the fact that this part of the Great Wall was pretty remote, the path up to it is seldom climbed. As a result the path was very narrow on account of the large amounts of shrubbery.

Now, let’s test your memory. What do cicadas like? Right. Hot environments. In case you didn’t know, they also love plants. You can assume that since we were constantly surrounded by plants and that it was very humid out there were lots of cicadas out. I must say, the cacophony of sounds made by cicadas is very pleasant, but, pull one cicada out of the group and you have a terrifying creature forged in the deepest darkest parts of Earth. Every step we took these creatures would fly out from the trees, sounding their battle cries, as if they were kamikaze pilots diving into enemy battleships. On top of that, spiderwebs stretched across the path, entangling any unfortunate passers by. Regardless, we climbed to the top, running from oncoming enemy cicadas, dodging massive spider webs, avoiding giant Chinese millipedes, whacking past the surrounding foliage, and pushing through the grueling heat. As you can see now…this was Hurt Locker. However, just like Jeremy Renner in the movie, we did not give up. Persevering is both important to show that you were able to push through a tough situation, just like this one, but also for the reward. And boy, was this reward…rewarding.

This was my first time at the Great Wall, along with four others, and it was everything I had imagined, plus more. As I stood atop a guard tower taking everything in I was dumbfounded. The panoramic view revealed the wall stretching on for miles as it cascaded down the mountain. It was truly picturesque. This whole section of the wall for just for us. No tourists, no admission tickets, not even a single sign had been posted, just history. Sometimes life throws the worst things at you, even Hurt Locker things, but, it’s worth pushing through, it’s all worth it.

-Jackson DaPuzzo