I hopped on the back of the tiny motorcycle in Jarabacoa, a tropical yet rustic Dominican town at 1,736 feet above sea level. My driver was a soft-spoken man, who acted surprised when asked the night before if he’d bring me a helmet to wear.
He rested his backpack on top of the gas tank and between his arms. I tossed mine over my shoulders, wrapped my arms around this unfamiliar person, and we took off down a dusty road. It was 4:00am.
As far as I knew, I was the only woman in the Dominican Republic, awake at that hour, at that altitude, astride a motorcycle.
Had I made a smart decision? What if he kidnapped me? The wind chilled my face as I looked upwards; it was a spectacularly starry night. In that moment all fear disappeared.
“Yes, I am alone,” I thought. “And I’m going to climb the biggest mountain on this island.”