Friday, August 7, 2015

Heading to the top of the world tomorrow!

This is it - the Kilimanjaro climb starts tomorrow! Here's a picture of the top of the mountain poking through the clouds as I was flying from Dar es Salaam to Arusha. Yes, that's the plane wing in the foreground.



I'm as ready as I ever will be to climb a mountain that you can see from a plane, with a local (Maasai) nickname of "house of god" (ngaje ngae). They also call it  “the white mountain” (ol doinyo naibor), and I'm glad I'm climbing it when there's still snow at the top, because there are predictions that all the snow will melt in the next few decades. I guess this light reading I brought with me for the trip is appropriate, then.



The flight was uneventful, but I was amused by a few things in the in-flight magazine. I flew fastjet, a newish airline that flies regionally in eastern and southern Africa. I learned that they have all of three planes, and that you can pre-book your fish buckets to save a little money. Yes, really.



Well, now I know for next time am in dire need of a bucket of fish.

I was pretty happy that this was one of the billboards that greeted me at the airport, because I have waited a LONG time to climb this mountain!



I spent the afternoon at my hotel in Arusha: repacking, doing email, charging my digital camera and iPhone batteries, and even getting a chance to have a quick chat with my awesome husband. It was good to hear his voice. He's been solo parenting since I left, but this Sunday his mom and cousin are coming to stay for about 2 weeks. He emails me daily updates of how he and Toby are doing, sprinkled with delightful anecdotes of day-to-day happiness (mostly). Did I mention that he's awesome?

Our Kilimanjaro guide came for a briefing tonight, which was... brief. He wanted to see if I had any questions, collect money for the gear I am renting from them (things like a sleeping bag, warm jacket for the summit, and hiking poles), and let me know what time he'd come to pick us up after breakfast tomorrow. The friend and colleague I'm climbing with, Jen, didn't arrived in time from Kenya for the briefing, but got in soon afterwards. Jen recently finished her PhD in Anthropoology - she's the first person whose dissertation committee I've been on! - and we basically do exactly the same research so I figure if we run out of other things to talk about, which if you know me at all you know is highly unlikely, we can just talk about awesome research ideas. Jen just finished up a long field season in western Kenya and came straight here from there  - she was literally at the field site this morning! She was very happy to have a good meal and is looking forward to a good sleep, as am I.

This will probably be my last post until I get back, since I won't have my laptop with me. I think this is the longest I will have gone without my laptop since... my honeymoon, in 2009? Yikes. I'll post photos to Facebook if/when I can, though.

If you want, you can watch our Kilimanjaro climb progress on the TK Google Map page (you can click on the link and another page will open up - here is the actual map). Our climbing group will be called JEPA x  2, 8th – 14th August 2015, and will be posted on the map when we arrive at the entry gate to the mountain tomorrow. Our guide will also post updates on the Team Kilimanjaro blog when he can.

Wish me luck!!