An open love letter to my best friend.

My girl ROCKS!! 

When I met this woman I never, ever, EVER thought that we would exchange more than pleasantries on sight. So quiet and collected. I could never find a good time to get near her, because she was so consumed in whatever she was doing.

We met while we were doing weekend mountain training in 2017, preparing for Kilimanjaro.

At some point, I even remember not wanting to be paired with her because I felt so awkward around her! I actually felt like she doesn’t want me around.

To be honest, we only socialised because we both HAD to. We were either behind others in training taking our time, or paired for something.

Woman hiker. Clear sky on top of a mountain with more mountains in the distance.
Possibly the first photo I took of her

She doesn’t know this but weekend after weekend, I began guessing who she is. For example, I tried to guess if she was my age, or if she was married and many, many more. That’s how mysterious she was!

However, weekend after weekend I also began realising that she doesn’t talk much because she is more of an “actions speak louder than words” kind of gal. She doesn’t like small talk and fake interactions. She is as real and raw as a person can be.

I was clearly intrigued by her, but we still remained training buddies (if even that).

To my surprise, when we were being paired up into hut-roommates or activities for the trip to Tanzania, she actually requested to be paired with me!

* In Pumba voice * Is this love? I think so!!!

Personally, I was thrilled because she is organised, mature and quiet. I knew that we would work well together as far as logistics and respecting personal boundaries, which was good for my overall mental health during the trip and on Kilimanjaro.

After all, it was going to be my first time doing any sorts of physical and mental challenge of this magnitude. I needed to be focused.

Little did I know that on Kilimanjaro she would become the sister I never had.

This was after we all came back from Kilimanjaro. Red and peeled off, but happy faces.

She had already acquired basic mountaineering experience by summiting Elbrus in Russia, but I didn’t even know about that until we had some alone time on Kilimanjaro. That’s two months after we had met!!!

I noticed that she was careful not to brag, always describing her reaction to near death situations like they are natural to all humans.

Like there is nothing special about her.

Sure Marianna… hanging by an axe that you spiked while falling into the VOID is a natural reaction!!

I, on the other hand, would have spent my last moments falling, twisting and turning like a newborn baby deer unable to walk …while screaming to my splashing death! 

…too gore?

My intrigue turned into liking, due to how modest she is in all of her “badassness”.

I KNEW that I want this woman in my life. 

The cutest moment of all was in a bus in Moshi (Tanzania) I believe it was, when I realised that this “I’ll stare into the eyes of death anytime” woman, would rather hang from an icy cold peak at 6000mASL, rather than have small talk with strangers. Adorable!

I, on the other hand, could not wait to get out and walk into a local market with live chicken and local fruit, speaking in the little Swahili that I had learnt.

I’m her opposite as far as these things go, but we always admire these qualities in eachother.

We discovered that we are both brave, in our own special way.

Marianna is also the smart type of smart, not just educated. A learner by nature and curious about how everything around us works. Constantly wanting to expand her limits both in mind and body.

“I’ve got the world on a string” ❤️ Photo credits to Максим Фойгель

She is sooo inspiring and passionate. 

Did I mention that she is in love with mountains?!

But not just the pieces of rocks they make them up, but for everything they bring to light inside of you when you face them. 

To put it simply, she is a Lady that you would never ever guess is such a badass. 

This award was for her summit to Mont Blanc by KOMOAAP  ❤️

She is the kind of person that makes you smile when you hang up the phone, the type of person that makes you want to do things and do them NOW, before its too late. 

The kind of person that reminds you of your superpowers, but also of how fragile we humans are. 

In snow with axe climber
Marianna being Marianna! ❤️ Photo credits to Максим Фойгель

I have had the need to tell the world about her for a few days now, because she is on another one of her dangerous adventures, hanging off of some mountain in the middle of nowhere.

Being worried about eachother while we are on our solo adventures has become the norm now. 

She argues that meeting strangers in random villages in every corner of the planet (or even just outside big cities), is more dangerous than what she does. 

I argue that she’s crazy and to not compare hanging 4000mASL off of our sweet FLAT ground (!), with exploring a country’s culture. 🤷

Looking at the view, it is worth the climb. ❤️ Photo credits to Максим Фойгель

The other day she summited Dent du Géant in Italy (basically means ‘the tooth of a giant’) at 4,013mASL. So she is now advancing into technically more challenging climbing instead of “just” hiking mountains. Something she had dreamed of doing for some time now.

👑 Climbing Aconcagua, Elbrus, Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro etc, is too boring for her Royal Badassness. 👑

Or it might be that her wandering soul is not letting her settle for less?

On to new more challenging adventures!

If I had to pick one of the many things that Marianna has taught me, is that if you feel like giving up and that you’ve reached your limit, push some more!!!

Our brain tends to want to protect us, it wants to keep us within our comfort zone. It’s our duty, to ourselves, to exceed our perceived potential. 

I hope that you stay safe during the rest of your climbs towards Switzerland.

I love you, and never forget to have fun. <3 

Go Explore! xx

Nicole Vassiliou the author of Go Explore Nicole website in red, looking at the camera.


2 thoughts on “An open love letter to my best friend.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.