Hello from Nairobi,
Well it has been an incredible trip. Have been in Nairobi for a couple of days and will be leaving Africa today. Somewhat saddened to leave as with one month here in mostly Tanzania, I have only seen the tip of the iceberg.
But, I leave here with many wonderful experiences and memories. Mostly, I have climbed to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro at over 19,000feet. I have been having victorious visions and occasionally suffering on the climb not reaching the top. I am glad to say that I made it to the top safely although with much persistence. I am sure I have lost a few brain cells at the high altitude, so please excuse me if the note comes to you in broken sentences. :)
The 6 day hike was incredible, combined with travel through different climate zones. It was amazing to see the surrounding change as we climbed up..from warm lush rainforest, to the summit where nothing survives, and the surrounding just filled with volcanic rocks on the ground and clear blue sky up above. The first three days was relaxing hike but I was nervous as I knew it would get tough. Strangely enough, as I got closer the summit look more overwhelming. Day 4 and 5 were the toughest as we pushed to the summit with about 20 hours climbing in a 30 hour period. The summit was made starting at midnight, hiking 7 hours with a flashlight, toes to the heels of the person in front. We were all so focused on our challenges; the drive to the summit was basically done in silence among the group. There were times I felt drunk and hungover..drunk as my mind was slow and could hardly keep my balance and hung over as I felt dizzy and wanted to throw up. It is incredible what the body does once you set your mind to it. The only way the top was made was by mindlessly putting one foot in front of the other, following to the temp of the heavy breathing and steps of others, while signals that your body tells you to stop. Coincidentally, I read an article about Einstein on this trip, and he said "that by acting on the human mind, it has overcome man's insecurity before himself and before nature" I put so much energy reaching the top, I barely had any energy coming down as my body basically shutdown after reaching its goal.
My trip through Tanzania was filled with other adventures. Before climbing, I went on a 5-day safari including the famous Serengeti National Park. It was so nice to see where a place that man is secondary and is respectful of nature and the animals. But then, it is only smart as the parks were filled with lions! Camping in the Serengeti was so memorable. We heard of stories that bush pigs destroyed tents and that animals will come on the campground to search for food. Sleeping in my tent alone was an experience that I will never forget -- numerous sounds of lions roaring, hyenas yelping, gazelles grazing, lying on the ground with nothing but a piece of nylon from the tent to protect you. Believe me, in such a situation, you learned to respect the animals. We were lucky as we saw basically all that I could ever have dreamed of. Lions, cheetahs, migrating wildebeest, zebras, hyenas on and on.. All were so plentiful and up close. The funniest experience is that we had seven flat tires (Yes, 7!) and one time we could not even get out of the truck to help the driver as there were feeding lions surrounding us. You should have seen the look on his face when he saw a lion come running out of the bushes after the kill!
When I first arrived in Tanzania, I headed straight for the beaches of Zanzibar, the Spice Island. The island was interesting and culturally different from the rest of the country as it is 95% Muslim. Funny, due to the lack of good restaurants, many people gathered after sunset on the beach to dine on the numerous variety of food offered by BBQ stands. It was a great opportunity to sit by the ocean with cool breeze and meet people from all over. Many nights, I sat with the local people and exchanged thoughts. I found out religion is a taken seriously. It is no wonder why many wars are fought and being fought due to religious beliefs. I spent a few nights on the northern coast of Zanzibar, an area with numerous straw bungalows. Our restaurant was basically a straw roof on the beach with the kitchen consisting of a burning wood pile separated by a wooden wall. I had a chance to do a few dives off Memba hoping to swim with the dolphins. The dolphins did not show up, but certainly saw numerous giant Green and Hawksbill Turtles.
Now I am in Nairobi, heading for the airport this afternoon. Nairobi has been what I expected of a big city in a developing country. Funny, one of the biggest expenditures so far is the "tips" and "contributions" given to friend met along the way. Yesterday, I met a refugee Sudanian university student who was waiting to bet his UN refugees papers so that he can go to UC Davis in the States. The people are very nice and outgoing here (once you figure who are the hustlers). It has been interesting to talk to them about the culture and the life that is so different from ours. I look forward to coming back to visiting rest of Africa and learn more about its diverse cultures.
For now, I am off to Dubai for a couple nights stopover, then off to Pakistan to meet up with George and Hope on their way down from China. K2 here we come...
Well, I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the summer (except those of you down under). Again, if anybody has traveling plans would love to meet up with you and share the adventures together.
Check out the new photos on the web at www.adventurageous.com