Piro Beach was empty, but not silent.
The darkness swallowed body and mind, until Manuel instructed us to turn on our headlamps. Our heaving breath was drowned out by the strong surf, roaring and crashing against the shore. The sand, in contrast, was soft and silky, sifting through my toes easily.
Minutes before my feet were encased in rubber boots that scraped and pinched my big toes, but now free, I wiggled them, digging in the sand further. We all had to wear these boots, because when something is worth the journey, you walk miles to get there.
We weaved through mucky paths and thick bush, crossed a river that weighed down my boots because water seeped in with alarming speed, only to navigate a muddy embankment, my boots squeaking from water and friction. Looming trees and engorged vines enveloped us, along with the dark.