Tuesday, March 29, 2011

...and Here We Go!

I feel so lucky to be here.  My first time abroad and this is where I get to be!  Funny to say but Kijabe is as African as you can imagine.  The Fisher's home is nestled right in the small town of Kijabe witch is perched right on the edge of the Rift Valley.  From their living room window you can see for more than 50 miles into the heart of the valley. 

Most of the roads require a 4x4 and if not available you piki! John has shown me how to ride the piki's (dirt bikes).  They are so much fun! Today we rode down to the small trucking town Maai Mahuu in the valley about 3 miles below Kijabe.  The whole time I expected a zebra, elephant, or lion to jump out onto the road.  But John informed me that the the closest big game is about 100 miles away. Some giraffes and zebra could be found closer, but further down in the valley.  In the trucking town as well as in Kijabe the level of poverty is clearly visible.  It is the first time I have seen this kind of living.  It is a lot to take in.  And so far not sure how I can fit into the community. 

Sandra has given us a tour of the hospital and it is incredible.  The community is so fortunate to have the hospital here and all the volunteers.  I can't wait to get back from the climb to have the opportunity to shadow Warren and the other doctors in the hospital.  There is so much to learn here. 

But next is the Kilimanjaro Climb.  Tonight we are packing and going over all the last details of what we need.  It is very fun to do all of this with the Fisher's.  We leave tomorrow for Narobi to meet our ride to Lotokitok, then the next day we start climbing from the Kenya side of Kilimanjaro. We are doing the Loitokitok route to the Rongai route.  It is 5 days and 4 nights on the mountain and we will end up in Tanzania.

3/31 Day 1 Lotokitok to Sekemba (2900m)
4/1 Day 2 to Third Cave (3875m)
4/2 Day 3 to School Hut ( 4750m)
4/3 Day 4 to Summit (5895m) to Horombo Hut (3720m)
4/4 Day 5 to Marangu Gate and stay in Protea Aishi Hotel

We are all having so much fun and are really excited.  Wish us luck and talk to you again soon.

Here we are!

We have arrived in Kijabe! It is beautiful here, surreal. This is the Africa that you dream about, your idyllistic vision of what you hope it will be.

Our flights here were smooth and stuffy in our foggy state, drifting in and out of sleep, and getting fed every half hour. The fam was there waiting for us in Nairobi and it felt so good to see them after so many months. John was towering over the crowd looking so old and handsome, and Erika looked so exotic with her beads and hair twists. Apparently Africa has been good on the parents because they look better than ever. Luckily, they had realized just in time that our arrival date was in fact Saturday, not Sunday as they had thought. Although it would have been a fun adventure finding our way from the airport alone...

We have had three nights here now and are doing well adjusting to the time change, slowly but surely switching ourselves around. I had some nighttime wanderings two nights ago, but slept hard last night. Myles woke up last night "starving" and had a little feast by himself around 3 am. We have done some good exploring already; walking down to the fig tree where the baboons put on quite the show, running and hiking the trails, trying the chapatis and chai at the "dukas," fresh smoothies and banana bread in the mornings... John and Myles have done some piki riding to Maai Mahiu, a small trucking town below Kijabe, across the tarmac to prepare for our bigger rides ahead.

We apparently arrived at the perfect time, it is like a second spring here. The rains have come, making everything green, and the animals are out in full force to greet us. So far though, the rain waits for the night, leaving the days sunny and hot with just the right amount of breeze. There are monkeys in the trees and birds swinging from their nests. Feeling thankful to have these few days to adjust and prepare for our climb, we leave tomorrow! Until next time... Ali.