Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Hey folks!
Good news on the picture front. Steve has put his photos of our adventures together on a page that can be viewed by people who do not have a facebook account. Here are the links:
Also, I have just recieved a camera from home, cunningly packaged by my mom so that it was not "lost" in the mail. So from now on, I will be able to upload my own pictures onto a slideshow on my blog. It is most exciting.

SO that's all for now. I'm in Dar es Salaam for the week, and plans for next week are as yet not solidified. Further bulletins as events warrant.

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter!


Saturday, March 22, 2008


Hey all! It's been a while again, but I think posting once a week or so will be about as often as I can manage. If that. But there's only so much you guys want to read about me anyway, I'm sure.

I'm having a really good time right now! I'm staying on Zanzibar for the weekend - an island off the coast of Tanzania which is well known for it's beautiful beaches, and coral reefs and that sort of thing. It's very relaxing. In fact, if anyone needs a good honeymoon destination, I found it.

Here's my day so far: slept in, had some bread and fruit for breakfast and went swimming in the Indian Ocean. We (Steve and I) had to dodge around the local women who were chasing fish into a huge net. We didn't have to worry about the Dhow fishing boats today, cause they tend to leave earlier in the morning. They dotted the water further out though. I'm hoping to take a ride in one at least once before I leave the coast. At about noon we went for lunch - rice and beans and fish for the equivalent of about 80 cents. When it got hot (that is, hotter than we could really deal with) we went inside to use the internet. Then we'll go swim some more, hang out on the beach and go for a beer at the local bar. Tomorrow we are planning to go snorkeling.

Last weekend I went on Safari in Arusha with a group of characters who are living there teaching English, friends of my former workmate Madeleine. There were 7 of us, all late teens and early 20s and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
In Swahili, the word Safari means "travel" or ""trip". More general than the common meaning of a trek through a national park where we get to encounter exotic wildlife. We participated in the latter, though I suppose we were all msafari (travelers) as well.
We spent two days in the Serengeti and on in Ngorogoro Crater, a huge area of land protected by crater walls as well as the Tanzanian government. We drove around in a huge jeep with seven seats and a roof you could raiseThe driver was also a guide and very knowledgeable about Tanzanian wildlife. We saw Zabras, giraffes, hippos, elephants, alligators, baboons, many kinds of antelopes, buffalo, lions, warthogs, a cheeta and a leopard (very rare apparently. Lucky us!). And a large variety of strange birds. Pictures will explain them better than I will, but unfortunately I will have to wait for the others to send me theirs, as I still have no camera. I intend to rectify that soon.
At night we camped in park campgrounds and watched the sun rise and set over the plains. We had a variety of wild animals visit our camp including a lion and a hyena on the first night, looking for hunting, but unable to see us in our tents (thank goodness!) and an elephant and a herd of buffalo on the second night. And always these enormous birds would hang around the camp looking for garbage. They were up to our chins standing with huge beaks and enormous black wingspans. Apparently they don't attack humans usually though. I don't think much of my chances against one of them. Or three.
If anything, the weekend ended too quickly, but in is close to $150 a day to visit the parks. I did get to spend some time in the village they teach in this last week and visit a couple of schools for the day, which was pretty cool. I also visited the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda at the Arusha Conference Centre. Also very interesting, though most of the exciting stuff happened in a closed trial.
I got to bond a lot with the gang in Arusha and was sorry to leave. I'm hoping to stay in touch with all of them.

Well, that's all I have for now. I hope you all have a wonderful Easter weekend. I'll be missing Turkey and Easter egg hunts, so please eat some chocolate for me. And Turkey. Just generally eat a lot.

Till next time!

PS. Other pictures (Kilimanjaro, etc) are up on Facebook and I will try to get them onto my blog next internet venture. Should be this coming week. Sorry it's taking so long!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Post Kilimanjaro

Hey folks!

Sorry it's been so long. I got down from six days of climbing Kilimanjaro last Friday and have had a hard time getting on the internet since then. Or rather, I've had a hard time finding an internet connection that will allow me to access my blog account. I finally found one at a rehabilitation centre for the disabled in the village I'm staying in outside Arusha. Unfortuntely, Steve, who has all the pictures from Kilimanjaro and the week before, had to go back to Dar es Salaam for work early this morning, so the pictures will have to wait for a later date.

In the meantime, I'll tell you a little about my experience on Kilimanjaro. We arrived in Moshi on Friday Feb 29th, and spent most of Saturday shopping around for a good tour company. We finally settled on one called Crown Eagle, because they offered us a reasonable price and were very professional.
On Sunday morning, we left on a six-day trek up the Marangu Route, a winding but scenic variation on the traditional way up. It was a beautiful hike. Although it rained consistently for a couple of hours every day at about 2:30, we generally had good weather and gorgeous views. And we did our best to be at camp and in the tent by the time the rain started.
There are several species of plants and trees that grow only on Kilimanjaro, so there were times when the surroundings felt very foreign even for Africa. The static electricity in the air often made lightning strike even though there was not a cloud in the sky. It was fascinating during the day, learning about the vegetation and weather from our guides Losobo and Ezekiel. Once we were above the rainforest, teh nights felt a little eerie, as if we were at the bottom of the ocean.

The food was also amazing! We had four porters and a cook with us (who all carried huge loads on their backs and heads in a most incredible display of strength and fitness) and we had huge meals every breakfast lunch and dinner ready prepared. Things like pasta, chicken, ragu, potatoes, spanish omlet, sausage, fruit. It was like a five-star hotel. My only regret about that situation is that we didn't get much of a chance to connect with our porters, even though we camped with them every night. They kept their distance from us and treated us like very important guests at their restaurant.

On the fourth day of our trek, we circumnavigated the mountain so we could approach the summit from the other side. We climbed down into several beautiful valleys with rivers and waterfalls, and up the side of a canyon at one point, which was slippery with ice, but otherwise really fun! We finished the day at about 4600 meters. At this point I was feeling less than well, but I passed it off as symptoms of the stress on my body and the altitde. I had no headache or any of the common reactions to altitude, so I just brushed it off.
That night, the guides woke us at 11:30 for our overnight ascent. I had overheated in my sleeping bag and I was feeling a little weak and feverish. I was very slow to start. All the same, I pushed on for about three hours up the steep zigzagging path in the freezing clod and wind. I had to stop every now and then to catch my breath, at which point I would get very sleepy and almost pass out. When the guides asked me how I was, I lied and said I was just a bit tired, that I'd get better if I kept going a bit more. Eventually, Steve suggested maybe we should go down. I fought it, cause we had come all this way and payed all this money and we were so close. Maybe an hour and a half from the summit. The guide looked at me, and told me that the insides of my lips and gums had changed colour and my pupils didn't dialate when he shone his light at me. He told me I had Altitude Sickness and I had to go down. I didn't want to, but my body really did. When I argued, Ezekial asked me which was more important, the money or coming down alive. So I went down.

I convinced Steve to continue to the summit, although he didn't want to. I think he's glad he did. His pictures are pretty amazing. I wish I had made it to the top, but I also think that I made the right choice. That night, a man died on the summit from Acute Respiratory Edema, because his guide had not recognized the symptoms of Altitude Sickness.

When I got down, I did some research. I learned a lot that I wish I had known before about aclimatization and keeping your body healthy while you climb. Things like how much water to drink and how much weight to carry. Kilimanjaro was an extraordianry hike, and maybe another day, I'll have a chance to do the last 500m.

So, that concludes my Kilimanjaro adventure. This week, I am staying near Arusha with a girl I know from working at MEC. She is teaching English in a small village, and today I went to visit and help out. School is very different here.
I'll be in Arusha for the week, then off on a Safari with six other young English Teachers from the area. We'll be going to Ngorogoro crater and the Serengetti, so I'm sure I'll have a lot to talk about after that.

Until then, hope you are all well and thanks for reading!