Sweat poured down my back and trickled into my eyes.

One step. Next step. Next step. I wanted to quit, I wanted to turn back around the way I came and plop myself on the silky white sand with a huge, cold glass of water.

‘Isn’t this what you wanted?’ I chided myself, ‘Isn’t this what you railed about not getting enough of, working indoors in an office all day? Didn’t you say you wanted swim in the ocean and climb mountains instead of atrophy at a desk for 9+ hours per day? Well, here you go!’

I angrily wiped the sweat off my forehead and focused on the shoes of the German guy in front of me.

One step. Next step. Next step.

“Okay!” Our guide called to us, almost sounding gleeful with his smooth island accent. “We are here!”

And I trudged up the last few steps, turned around, and lost the breath I was desperately trying to regain. Nacula Island spread out below me in every direction, jagged rocks carpeted with lime green velvet, sloping down to vivid aquamarine and cerulean seas. Palm trees jutted up from golden beaches on one end, and forest green reef spread out under the crystalline water from the other.

This. This was worth huffing and puffing for 30 minutes up the steep spine of a mountain. I turned around and around, 360 degrees of pure natural splendor shooting out like a sunburst beneath my feet, the wind picked up and lifted me… and for a moment I swore I would fly.