The Universe works in wondrous ways! A little over a year ago, I committed to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. I researched, and found that the best time of year to climb is February, before the rainy season set in. It also is one of the best times for wildlife viewing – with the great annual migration of wildebeests and zebra through the Serengeti. So – I, along with a couple of friends committed to the challenge.
We worked out. We changed bad habits. We climbed 14’ers. We purchased lots of “trekking” clothes. We broke in our boots. My friends had a “she’s never been married, never had kids, but she is climbing a mountain, shower.”
Then, a couple of weeks prior to departure, we learned that the conditions on the top of Kilimanjaro…were bad for those of us looking for a leisurely trek vs. a mountaineering experience. It’s great for Tanzania, bad for us.
There is more snow at the top of Kilimanjaro, than there has been (by most reports) in 50 years. We all discussed it – and decided we weren’t physically or mentally prepared for a wintry mountaineering adventure. With the help of our expedition organizers (Tusker, who I will rave about in article continuations), we changed from the climb, to a safari. We still wanted to be close to Kilimanjaro, so they arranged a last minute, magnificent safari for us that would have us walking the foothills, and staying at the base of the mountain.
I should digress here and tell you what led us to this adventure. About 18 months ago, I wrote a short story that is set at the base of Kilimanjaro. Some “powers that be” read it, and urged me to turn it into a full length novel, and try my hand at a screenplay. Last February, I was interviewing a guy that had just returned home from climbing Kilimanjaro, and after an hour of questions (I think he was tiring of me), said – “Just go over there. See it for yourself.” He was right.
Everyone should experience Africa.
I’ve been back now about 10 days, after a month long adventure in Tanzania. It’s hard to reintegrate into American life. America is LOUD. Tanzania is quiet. There is too much going on – everything here is multi-tasking hell, and fast pace. In Tanzania, POLE POLE (slowly slowly) is the way of the land. As an ex-multitasking, sending email while talking on the phone with music playing in the background, individual I find now that every day tasks here are annoying. Going to the grocery store – the loud speaker announcing specials in the back of the store that I couldn’t possibly be interested in…traffic…television news…alarm clocks…all annoy me in ways I never experienced before.
For a glorious month, I was without television, newspapers, and only had Internet access 3 times. I didn’t miss any of it. Now, back home, there are many things I miss from my Tanzanian adventure…NAPS, the serenity of silence, the wonder of the animals, the smiles and bright eyes of the people, the NAPS.
I’m still having a difficult time formulating the words to properly bring to life the beauty of the people, the land, and the animals. All were spectacular in their own ways, awing beauty, raging power, and the subtle simplicity of life. Tanzania is a beautiful country, with gracious, warm people. Their land is varied, and I was surprised by much of it. Parts are very lush and green, others are dry and arid. Mountains, plains, foothills, rivers, lakes...everything you could ask for, and so much more. I am formulating a more detailed account of my experience, and will be publishing it as the words flow. For now, I leave you with a few favorite shots…