Monday, December 28, 2009

Time Traveling and Mountain Climbing

Hello again from Tanzania Tara! If cyber shame could be expressed, consider this to be it for it has been far too long since I have posted about my going-ons and happenings here in Tanzania. Let it be said right away it has been an exciting, busy, unbelievable last few months and a blog time lapse that won’t happen again.

I have been writing about my experiences, but have yet to transfer them into shareable bits of stories, feelings and insight into this life in Tanzania. So, expect the next few *hopefully* frequent posts to be a modicum of offerings to give you a window into the time existing from August-December 2009.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

This morning, I experienced a tearful good-bye with Amy and David at the Arusha bus stand (while been assaulted by pushy, rude water and peanut sellers… Hey Mzungu! Looks like you’re crying, want to be overcharged for a bottle of water?!) followed by the long ride home and arrival back to the village, dust-choked, tire and sore. But despite this bit of loss I’m feeling at the departure of my best friend, I can only reflect on the last two weeks and feel an enormous smile creep and sweep across my face.
For not even two days ago, the three of us stood on the top of Africa, submitting the continent’s highest mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro at 5895 meters (that’s 19340ft!)*. Watching the sunrise over one of the peak’s remaining glaciers, turning the ice and shrouding clouds into deep and changing shades of pink, purple and blue that morning made me feel wonderfully loopy, altitude sickness or not.
It is incredible to me that we were able to walk somewhere on our own two feet where the air was so thin that despite being only degrees away from the equator, you’re wearing 5 layers and feeling the sweat on your face freeze into tiny ice crystals. And where you feel nauseous, drunk-like and as if you were wearing lead boots.
And its not just the 6:37am summit that followed 6 hours of straight uphill hiking on loose gravel in the dark. Or the spontaneously sprint down to the glacier wall, enormous and looming, smoothed and sculpted by the wind into icy pinnacles and staircases. Or the varied and beautiful landscapes we passed on the way up the mountain (lush mossy forests, open wildflower sprinkled sagebrush, barren volcanic vastness). Or the hilarity of our six porters (yes six people to get the three of us up the mtn) taking our expensive, hyper-designed backpacks, dumping them into gunny sacks and lugging them up the mtn on their heads with a case of fresh eggs strapped to their backs.
It was altogether something more. A feeling of accomplishment. A feeling of absolute joy to be in wilderness again. And a completeness in doing it with two of my best friends (and an awesome group of Tanzanias) from whom nothing but positive energy flowed and highlighted the experience. It was six days that reach a height far greater than the 5895m we summitted and an experience that will remain among the most extraordinary in my time here on Africa.

And now back to Monday December 28, 2009...

And so now, that time here is coming closer and closer to its end. I’ve been calling this continent home for over 22 months now and the close of my service just seems to be a blink of the eye away (Still 5 months, but time is a strange moving thing). For that I’m both sad and thankful.

But for those of you curious about that future, here are my plans and what has keep me so internet busy the last few months:
I officially close my Peace Corps service at the end of May. Then it’s traveling a bit here in East Africa… I’m not leaving without kayaking Lake Malawi. Then finishing up in Mali and possibly other West Africa destinations before heading home in mid-July/Early August. (If any of this sounds interesting to you, Karibu!). Then visiting friends and family before starting graduate school, hopefully, in the fall. I’m applying to six schools (UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, Michigan, Columbia, Chicago and Minnesota) for PhD programs in vertebrate paleontology.

And then I will have met the future and all this will seem as far away as home has felt to me here during the last two years. And I don’t know if I’m quite ready for that.

I miss you all terribly, but not so terribly as I know I’ll be seeing you soon. Think of you daily and especially strongly this past Christmas holiday. I love you and am looking forward to sharing more of the wonder and craziness with you in upcoming blog posts. Hope you are all well and bringing in 2010 with much happiness!

*After Brendan’s visit, he told me with astonishment that it took a dramatically long time for his Tanzania-departing, Ethopia-bound plane to reach an altitude level with Kili’s peak. And again, I look with astonishment at my own two feet. Thank you Amy, David and Mom for making it a possibility.

1 comment:

Robyn said...

Incredible, beautifully written post. Thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us; it sounds like a truly life-defining moment.