Archive for September, 2010

It’s Happening! Kilimanjaro is Just a Few Hours Away

My packing mess: Duffel bag with snacks and obsessive little anti-bacterial gel bottles sticking out

It’s finally here. The moment I’ve  been waiting for for three months is only a few hours away. This is the first time in my entire life that I start packing and feel relaxed as I do. No rush with anything, just put the items that have been lying there since I bought them from Britain, fold them one by one and whisper secret wish to each of them that they work well, and voila, the red duffle bag is all packed and happy. This trip should be a lesson for me in traveling light, I still added some extra items I know I can do without, but you know, it gives a sense of security to feel that you have everything abundantly.

My everlasting FPO (Fear of Peeing Outdoors) syndrome, which was diagnosed and named by my good friend and Kilimanjaro veteran Nadia, continues to rule my life. Being not very well versed in the art of peeing outdoors, today at the supermarket I bought 8 little bottles of anti-bacterial gel and an endless pack of wipes. I might have been able to hold it for 12 hours on St. Katherine in Sinai, but I’m not sure it could work for a week in Kilimanjaro, unless it freezes.

I have a rough idea of what to expect on the hike from others who have already been to the mountain. So I did my homework and got the clothes and the equipment I might need. But I know that no matter how ready I try to get or how ready I think I can get, there will always be room for panic over just what might be missing. So I do believe that a mountain experience is a very personal one. It’s me and that mountain. We’ll figure out the language we speak to each other, and it will tell me how to climb it.

The minute I took the decision to go up Kilimanjaro I stopped sleeping at night. I would toss and turn in bed, forever obsessing about getting ready and having the right equipment. My heart would race just by the thought of me taking my patient steps one by one to the top. It was like I discovered an inner passio

n in me that had always longed to express itself and has finally found its way out. There is something that draws me to that summit. I feel at awe each time I look at mountains, and this was the chance for me to experience the full majesty of the highest peak in Africa.

Kilimanjaro is known to be a kind and friendly mountain. It looks serene in the picture I have on my desktop. You only trek up, no supernatural abilities of climbing are required. But the altitude of 5893 meters above sea level has a tendency to work wonders over people’s brains. The lack of oxygen can disrupt muscle functionality and cause brain damage. I get claustrophobic just by thinking about thin air, and I get dizzy in heights, but I still want to climb mountains. No other experience I have been through has given me the same physical or spiritual rewards. So I’m starting with Kilimanjaro and my mind can’t wait for the journey.

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