Together with my family and Sarah (unfortunately Chris couldn’t join us) we attempted to hike up the tallest peak in Africa—Mt. Kilimanjaro. I call it a hike and not a climb, because it really was quite luxurious and nothing like my usual mountain experiences. We slept in huts, were served all our meals (including morning tea brought to us in bed!), and had most of our things carried for us by porters (I think we had 27 people cater to us, including cooks, guides, and porters!). Also, we were forced to walk at the pace set by our guides, which was extremely pole pole (very slow). Whenever one of us tried to pick up the pace a little, our guides would insist that we walk slowly to conserve our energy because we were on a serious mountain. Even though our guides gave strange advice sometimes, we really enjoyed walking with them. They chanted Kuche Kuche (our team name) as we walked past other groups to let them know that our team was VIP.
We spent three days leisurely trekking up to the base of the mountain, and on the fourth day we reached Kibo (the high base camp) in the afternoon and continued up to the summit that night. Unfortunately, it was here at Kibo that some of us from our group fell sick with “the plague” as we called it. Benny and Sarah were throwing up uncontrollably… our guides insisted that it was altitude sickness, but we know that it was either food poisoning or from bad water. They were too weak to even think about moving, so they couldn’t leave with us when it was time to go at 11pm that night (which is too bad, because they for sure would have raced up the mountain ahead of us if they weren’t sick!). As we stepped outside our hut ready to start for the summit, my mom started throwing up too! But, she still wanted to try for the top (what a stud!) so we started climbing. After a few minutes, though, she still felt awful so had to turn around. So, it was now up to Sarah J, Danny, Alison, my dad and I to represent the others and make it to the top.
As we climbed up and up in the dark, our guides serenaded us with songs in Swahili, all about us safely reaching Uhuru, the summit. Sure enough, after several hours of moving pole pole up the mountain, the rest of us all reached the top (but I won’t mention who made it up first…). It was amazing being on the top at 5895 meters, my new highest point! I just wish that the others who were sick could have been there with us.
We got back to Moshi on Christmas Eve, and the next day for Christmas we went to Arusha National Park for a one day safari. We saw tons of animals, but mostly lots of giraffes and Colobus monkeys.
My favorite was Bambi, a tiny little dik-dik (a small antelope). The next few days before my family had to leave, we went to spend some time to relax on the east coast. It was hard to say goodbye to my family, especially after we had such a good time and they all spoiled me with lots of treats! Sarah J. stayed a few days after my family, so I got to show her my work and what living with my host family is like. She left early this morning, so now I have to get used to being all on my own again!
Even though it’s going to be hard to adjust again after such a nice break, I feel refreshed, encouraged, and am looking forward to new opportunities at my work and continuing with my service term. (For some more recent pictures, check out my Facebook album).