Shark Fin and Teeth

Shark Fin and Teeth

Jason offered a weather report at breakfast. "It's two degrees above zero" (it sounds more sinister in celsius). 

He meant no evil, nor did I return it, but his words did prompt a flashback to my days of fieldwork in the deserts of Jordan.

And we ate it too, twice

And we ate it too, twice

In Paul's hands was the most beautiful birthday cake I had ever seen. We secretly thanked Tommy's mother for bringing him into the world on a day when his future friends would appreciate a special dessert.

A stone-cold cauldron

A stone-cold cauldron

At some point in the distant past, planetary nausea triggered a spew of subterranean chunder. The blow was horrific enough to empty a mountain of structural support, causing it to collapse into its own throat.

On the Shira

On the Shira

We trudged up one more rise. At the crest, the landscape flattened. It was the collapsed floor of an ancient volcano. 

Hakuna Matata

Hakuna Matata

What we heard next was spectacular. The porters treated us to a welcome song in Swahili. It was a Kilimanjaro version of "Jambo Bwana," a local tune. To our delight, the phrase Hakuna Matata ("No worries!") was repeated throughout. It would not be the first time that I felt as if I was living out "The Lion King" in Tanzania. The only thing we lacked was a meerkat.

A hobbily start

A hobbily start

Although the day had seemed long, most of it was spent sitting in a cramped position. We had ridden several hours by bus, waited for official clearance at Londorossi Gate, reboarded and ridden for what seemed to be another hour on the bumpiest road yet. It was mid-afternoon when we finally arrived at the drop-off point beneath the Shira Ridge.

PaperGate

PaperGate

I dangled out the bus window and sniffed the air. It was damp, earthy, and green. Inside the bus were nine other Kilimanjaro trekkers (also somewhat damp, earthy, and green!), four guides, a handful of porters, and many rucksacks.

The LFMW

The LFMW

The ten of us sat around the long wooden table. We looked like members of the board, but this was no committee meeting. Robert, sporting the "please-recover-my-body" orange of Kandoo Adventures, introduced himself as our lead guide. I liked him immediately.

Ptolemaic Puzzles (Part 2)

Ptolemaic Puzzles (Part 2)

I knew Kili was up there and quite close, its hoary head peering down. But from Stella Maris, it was impossible to discern where the giant lay. 

How do you hide a mountain? I thought. Especially the highest one in all Africa?

A Real Star of the Sea

A Real Star of the Sea

Stella Maris is Latin for "Star of the Sea." The phrase originally referred to Polaris, the brightest point of light in the constellation Ursa Minor (or "Little Bear"). As this fireball is fixed in a fluid sky, navigators use Polaris, also known as the North Star, for orientation.

Pole pole

Pole pole

Joshua was the first Tanzanian we met and the first to give us advice for a successful summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. As he inched the van through the traffic between the airport and our Moshi hotel, he encouraged positivism, patience, and pace.

Ptolemaic Puzzles (Part 1)

Ptolemaic Puzzles (Part 1)

The earliest mentions of Kilimanjaro are shrouded in the mist.

Elevated faith . . . and doubt

Elevated faith . . . and doubt

"You know," Godfrey answered, still in reflective mode, "Some people say that Jesus climbed to the top of this mountain."

"Really?" I queried. I was curious where this could go.

"Yes. With his twelve . . . " He searched for the next word.

"Apostles?" I filled in.

"Yes. Apostles. They came here to pray."

An eclectic fellowship

An eclectic fellowship

Twenty-one Bible Lands Explorers from the United States and Mexico hit trail this summer in Israel-Palestine. In eleven days they managed to cover the ground from Dan to Beer-sheba. More importantly, these pilgrims came from from very different locations and stations of life. They gathered as strangers, but parted as family.