Friday, February 04, 2011

Meru Photos

At the start of our trip, our taxi to the park gates was hastily arranged on the bus from Moshi, so we weren't terribly surprised when he didn't show. Instead, we opted for motorbikes into the park.

That is David on the motorbike. An enthusiastic mountaineer, David has climbed over 15 mountains over 4000m. Being German, he had plenty of very pragmatic advice about mountain climbing and life in general. Hiking a big mountain certainly accelerates the rate of familiarity, and David was a great guy to get to know.

David (who also supplied the majority of these photos) wanted to travel light. Initially, he insisted that we carry only chocolate (Ritter Sport) and nuts for the 3-day hike. As you might expect, I heartily vetoed this idea. Regardless, we didn't have a camp stove, so the rangers shared some of their hot Ugale and vegetables with us. We were happy to share.

A view from Rhino point showing Meru's peak and the ash cone formed in the old crater.

Me and my companions on the eve of the summit. We met two other Germans, Heiko and Jens, at the base who shared our ranger. Initially, the Germans were quite upset to share a ranger, given that we had theoretically purchased our own ranger for the ascent. In the end, it turned out to be a good group of guys. We played several rounds of Danish Bastard in the hut, which the guys mostly loved - especially when they started winning.

The summit of Meru, "Socialist Peak".

Sunrise at the summit with Kilimanjaro on the horizon.


Identity Crisis

I think all moms would agree that becoming a mother involves a major shift in the way you perceive yourself. All prior warm and fuzzy notions of wanting to put other people’s needs before your own seem laughable the moment you realize an infant’s dependency on you. Your career, your social life, and your schedule are all thrown for a loop by a little creature who has no interest in knowing about your previous experiences or interests. During 2am feedings, you often find yourself thinking, “Whoa, who have I become?”

Tanzanians answer that question by giving you a new name. With the exception of most muzungus (that’s white people in Swahili), I am known as ‘Mama Townes.’ I don’t just mean that I’m called that affectionately, I truly don’t think that any of the Tanzanians that we know would recognize the name Kacey at all. When I call them on the phone I say, “Jambo, this is Mama Townes calling.” At times, it feels crazy to have so much identity wrapped up in another person but there’s something about my new name that acknowledges the identity theft and embraces it with a smile.

(Townes calls this the 'old, tired swing' because he's mixed it in his mind with the old, tired engine from The Little Engine that Could.)