One Does Not Simply CLIMB Kilimanjaro!!!: The Tanzania Chronicles #7

It had all started so optimistically.

We settled our bill at Imani, which included a free ride to the Zanzibar airport (which was amazing after all the taxi-related debacles). After getting through customs (where the customs officer gave me quite the strange look when she saw my tripod — I think she thought it was something else), we’d take a 20-minute flight, where we’d reunite with Trevor and Sakshi!!!

The plane that we took from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam to Arusha
We had to make sure to pick Trevor and Sakshi up for the ride in STYLE….

It’s funny how you can be so happy to see someone one day and so bewildered with them another — but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Another couple of hours in our 12-seater bush plane and we were picked up by our driver (and new best friend), Muba from Maasai Wanderings, who would take us to Ahadi Lodge in Arusha to rest and prepare for what could very well have been the most challenging week of our lives.

My mission, should I choose to accept it (and my friends didn’t give me much choice in the matter, here), was the following:

DAY ONE

Arusha-Machame
Hike: 8.2 km
1840m-3022m
5-6 hours

“We depart after breakfast for the transfer to the National Park Gate at Machame where we fulfil [sic] the registration formalities before entering the Park. We make our way through the heavily rooted forest area parallel to a flowing stream. We eat lunch along the way and by mid-afternoon we are able to recognise our first camp.”

End: MACHAME CAMP

Sounds simple enough, but from the first day of climbing, we realised that reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro would be far more of a challenge that we’d thought. Between Sarah and I, anyway, she’d idealised what kind of adventure it’d be, realised how much of a life-changing experience it’d be, but not factoring in how hard it would be to do it. Me on the other hand — I chose not to think about it very much beforehand — bad move since the Kili climb is as much mental as it is physical, if not more so.

But I digress — let me tell you about the madness that was 7 Days of Kili!!!

So like I said, the first day would already set the tone for a week that none of us would ever forget.

After the belated arrival of our guide on the first day (both ironic and an omen, since he gave us flack for being “late” the night before — when in fact, our flight time had been given to him incorrectly), we packed our gear into Muba’s Toyota Land Cruiser and started the 2-hour drive to the mountain!

But not before stopping at the Shop-Rite supermarket! Did you know that they don’t sell dental floss in Tanzania?! Seriously, it’s the little things you miss the most. But moving on…

Some of the sights we’d see on the way there included:

The Clock Tower — in the Central Business district of Arusha, they call this “the centre of Africa” as it’s allegedly halfway between Cape Town, South Africa and Egypt

The Arushan International Conference Centre — where they were holding tribunals for criminal involved in 1994’s Rwandan Genocide

Tanzanite Mines — where we learned about Tanzanite, the stone said to be a thousand times rarer than diamonds (back in 1967, you could find Tanzanite 6 or 7 feet into the ground, but now they’re searching 400-600m deep and coming up with squat) and accordingly ridiculously expensive

The sightseeing tour would be brief, though — through the clouds and on the horizon loomed the beast that we (read: I) were sure was out to destroy us — Mt. Kilimanjaro!

Theoretically, we should have been more than prepared to deal with this:

  • for our group of 4, we were given a team of 17 to get us up, including guides, a chef, waiters, a tent-master, and an army of porters to carry everything (our bags, our tents, the food, everyone else’s crap, and so on)

    The list of the 17 staff we needed to ascend Kilimanjaro
    While it was initially surprising that we needed 17 crew to get up Kili, as the week went on, it made more and more sense….
  • our guide, Julius, was made out to be a legendary figure:
    • one tale had him carrying a woman (who’d given up) on his back up the last leg of the climb to make sure that she saw the summit
    • in 17 years, he’d climbed the mountain over 500 times
  • we’d brought all the right gear, got in shape and were young and positive enough to get this done!

This video should help to give you an idea of our initial attitude toward the mountain:

Kili had plans for us, though — plans indeed.

Muba — and our ride to Kili — leaving us behind for a week to brave the mountain.
“Muba, come back! Come back! I don’t know if I want to do this!!!”

We would enter Machame Gate at 1800m, and while we waited for Julius to get our registration complete, men descended upon us to rent us gear (of which Trevor and Sakshi wisely partook for that which they lacked); we were provided with nicely gift-wrapped lunch boxes for the day (more on that later); we would watch as Muba drove off into the distance, marking that as the point of no return; and 45 minutes later, we were on our way!

The lunch boxes that Maasai Wanderings prepared for us
On day one, we thought this was an amazing gesture! By Day 14, though…

Here’s what we looked like right then:

From left to right: Casey, Sarah, Sakshi, Trevor
Ready to take on the WORLD.

And on we would go. The first temperate zone of Kili is farmland (800m-1800m). Not much of a climb, so they skip you forward right to the second zone: rainforest (1800m-2800m)! With majestic trees and rugged paths, it made for quite the hike!

Walking through Montane Forest
Montane Forest looms well over you as you make your way through the first stage of Kili’s Machame route

But as long as we took it pole pole (remember, Swahili for “slowly, slowly”), we could do it!

Yeah RIGHT.

Rainforests also bring something else — TORRENTIAL TROPICAL RAIN! We should’ve known we were in for trouble when our guides started suiting up in rain jackets, waterproof pants and gaiters for their boots and we only had our raincoats with us, but it was a lesson that wouldn’t soon be forgotten after TWO HOURS OF RAIN and pants that were SOAKED THROUGH. (I, for one, also learned that Canadian passports AREN’T WATERPROOF.)

So LESSON #1: Carry ALL of your rain gear with you! Not just your rain coat — your bottom half will thank you.

After this, we were obviously miserable, and still had far to go. Trevor — who I was none too impressed with at this point, as I unfairly blamed the entire idea of the trip on his adventurous self — decided to look at the situation optimistically with a dose of “Trevor Zen”:

Trevor: I look at it with Trevor Zen.

Casey: Whaddya mean?

T: Well, each step we take is one that we’ll never need to take again!

C: …Trevor Zen sucks.

But he was right — if we kept moving forward, we’d eventually get thee. This is something we’d need to constantly remind ourselves over and over with each passing day!

Plus, part of my misery was my own damn fault — I hadn’t thought to unpack the unnecessary junk out of my day pack before climbing, so I walked 6 hours like I was carrying my bag to work in Toronto, including:

  • my iPad
  • the Joby Gorillapod Ballhead X tripod I’d brought
  • our entire supply of snacks
  • two camera lenses

on top of the stuff I was going to need:

  • my digital SLR camera (yes, with a third lens)
  • 3 litres of water
  • raincoat

So, LESSON #2: Only carry what you need! This applies from the morning before you drive out to the afternoon when you get back — make sure your bag is light and filled with things you’ll actually use while constantly on the move. (And trust me, you won’t need snacks!)

Climb time: 12:35 pm – 6:15 pm (5h 40m)

Machame Camp where we rested the first night
2 tents for us (foreground), the cook’s tent, the mess hall (far right) and the guide’s tent (not visible). Our home for the next week!

We’d eventually make it to Machame camp, where we would strip the wet stuff off, rest our weary bodies, and dine on a voluminous dinner! (Note: between the amounts of food for every meal plus the lunch boxes they have you carry per day, there is no way humanly possible to finish all of the food they give you, ergo snacks are useless. Don’t pack too many!) We felt terrible that first night as we didn’t want to be wasteful, but our stomachs weren’t big enough to handle it all! This feeling, too, would eventually wane….

With one day down and six to go, we’d already learned a few lessons, and surely we could make the next day better than the first — right?

A view to the summit from Machame Camp
Just in case we needed a reminder, the summit of Kili is ever-visible from every camp you stay at…

Next time in the Tanzania Chronicles — it’s called “uphill” for a reason!

–case p.

The 2K11 24/7 CCXXXIX: The Dilemma of Daily Dedication

Sticking to something daily is a huge challenge. Some people try to hit the gym every day. Sometimes it’s making sure to make time for a significant other. My daily thing — obviously — is blogging. I can’t lie, it takes up a lot of my time. I’ll often think that I’ve wrapped up for the night, only to remember that I have a blog post to get up for the next day. It’s those moments that I groan, I gripe, but I write. It’s important to me that I keep up with the daily posts — it’s the first time where I’ve made a public commitment and have been pretty good at sticking to it, so I can’t be my source of sabotage at this point; things need to get done.
How about you? Is there something that you want to do every day, but you feel that something’s holding you back? Do you try to schedule things into your life but often get sidetracked?
It’s mind over matter, and your mind is more powerful than you think. The first step is convincing yourself that you have the ability to achieve whatever it is that you’re seeking out of life, and then just go for it. My list isn’t getting any shorter, and I’m not getting any younger, but I’m still hustling hard, day after day, since I’ve yet to give up on the dreams that’re floating in my head.

The 2K11 24/7 CCXXIII: Syrious Business

I had a Syrian coworker once who was quite the comedian! In the eight months of planning my wedding, he was rife with hilarious advice and wisdom to keep me going.
But what I would soon realize is that not only were these pieces of advice for how to run a successful wedding — they could be applied to just about ANY social gathering you come across! Here’s a couple of the gems of Syrious (yes, I went there) advice he’s sent my way:

The 2K11 24/7 XLVII: T is for Temptation

“Don’t mess with Mr. T
Don’t mess with Mr. T
T (he’ll get ya)
T (he’ll get ya)
T (he’ll get ya)
T (temptation…)” — Big Sean, “Mr. T”, If I were to write a list of the things in life that can be a pain in the ass, temptation would be way up there on the list. All too often, our ids take us down paths we probably shouldn’t be taking, mostly due to the Mr. T mentioned above. Whether it’s a minor temptation (e.g. “Just one more piece”, “It can wait ’til tomorrow” or “Just let me sleep another 10 minutes”) or a major one (e.g. “S/he never has to find out”, “Just this once” or “What harm could it do?”), they’re always there, just waiting to wrench us from our paths. I’m not even talking about this from a religious standpoint (though, admittedly, it’d be way easier to do so since there’s a standard set of rules one must abide by, more or less) — even if you don’t believe in a creator, there are temptations you’ll come across in life that you might take and REALLY come to regret later.

You’ve seen some themes repeat themselves in my posts a few times since the beginning of the year — this is because I think that they’re important and just good, solid advice that can help YOU through the challenges you’re SURE to face in life.

Let me focus on a few of these principles now so we can discuss how you can better manage temptations when they come your way:

The 2K11 24/7 XLVI: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Be Da Bomb

Worrying is so 2010. It’s human to worry – we did it pretty well from 2007-2010, with the recession heralded by the subprime mortgage crisis and all. The news says that we shows signs of recovery, and yet we worry. Centuries ago, the Mayans developed a calendar that predicted the end of the world (as we know it) in 2012. We’ve had Nostradamus make several predictions, many of which we’ve interpreted to the true, which seems to add weight to this argument. Add the Christian Second Coming, the Norse idea of Ragnarok, Armageddon, etc.., and you get an event that may or may not happen anytime soon, and for the most part is outside of our control. And yet we worry.

Worrying is a fruitless endeavour. I tell this to Sarah all the time. Then she hits me. (Kidding.) But seriously, what does worrying gain you?

  • grey hairs
  • wrinkles
  • deteriorated health
Yeah, oh man — I really want to worry now.
But to be concerned; to be proactive; to plan — none of these are bad things. Feel free to prepare for things that may happen so that you’re not caught unaware. But when things start to usurp your thoughts and cause you to stress — it’s time to rework your mental processes. The future you worry about is like trying to get a date with a supermodel — you can think about it all you want, but it doesn’t mean it’s actually going to happen. Worrying is like an ear worm that makes it way deep into your conscious, shifting your thoughts away from anything productive.
So I say don’t worry. Worrying will only hold you back. The more you worry, the less you get anywhere. Spend that time thinking on happier thoughts — things you’d like to be; places you’d like to go; your dreams; your aspirations. The worries — take care of what you can, and leave the rest to time, patience, and hard work. You’ll get where you need to be if it’s important to you!
Worrying has been a waste of time since the beginning of it. The Bible can tell you all about it:

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” — Matthew 6:24, Holy Bible, NIV Edition

Or perhaps if that’s not your cup of tea, how about a word from Mad Magazine?
“What, me worry?” — Alfred E. Neuman, Mad Magazine

So when those thoughts creep up on you out of the dark and you feel overwhelmed? When your world is crumbling around you? When your mind feels like it’s going to break apart?
You know what? Don’t worry about it.
–case p.
46/365

The 2K11 24/7 XXIII: Ultimate Advice

Sorry guys, would’ve had this up earlier, but I got asked to be a sub (substitue) player in an Ultimate Frisbee game by some friends, so that took up some time. It was good to brush the dust off of my cleats and play on some turf while chasing the disc; but I can never seem to get away from an Ultimate game unscathed – I have a nice scrape on my leg from a missed catch and subsequent slide. Ah well, still awesomely fun – dodgeball tomorrow!After the game, the team and I were talking about the entire idea of giving advice. As you know, this is a blog about improvement. Self-improvement. Your improvement. The improvement of the society and the environment around us. A pretty grand task, I know, but I feel that it’s one that could use some serious contemplation.

60 Ways to Lose Your Lover

Ha, I don't normally post stuff like this, but sometimes we all need a little help. Sarah was kind enough to show this article to me from The Toronto Star (no, she wasn't dropping any hints), and I think everyone should take a look to see what they agree with, disagree with, or even think is just plain stupid.

60-ways-to-lose-your-lover

A few key things I'll note:
  • Outside of the Facebook item in the women list, I'll pretty much agree with everything there
  • The men's list is WAY longer than the women's list. Is this telling or just plain biased?
  • Communication = the solution to EVERYTHING
Happy reading!
–case p.

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The 2010 20K: Day 41 – Busking

http://www.metronews.ca/toronto/local/article/456474–busking-is-like-public-art

So it would seem that busking in the TTC might not be the best idea if I want to reach this goal in a timely fashion. If we consider that:

  • There's a $150 annual permit for busking in the TTC
  • One would need to commit to six-hour shifts three to four times a week, which would definitely cramp on sleeping time
  • I have limited musical talent – I don't think I could very readily pass a serious audition
  • It's a subway station. Those things are COLD.

So maybe we'll look to something more like street performing. Or maybe doing portraits of people – but WAIT!

http://www.toronto.ca/licensing/pdf/rd_allw_fees.pdf

  • If I'm just busking or drawing with chalk on the sidewalk, we're looking at a $35.69 permit fee.
  • If I want to draw portraits of people as takeaway items – it's a $300.00 permit fee. THREE HUNDRED. I'll need to think this over – see what approach might even be good to take care of this =/
  • The application for this is pretty lengthy – and there're a gajillion rules and regulations and bylaws associated with the practice – man. Buskin' ain't easy! I'm going to need more me's just to make this work!

I was going to enter one of those surveys you see on the back of your receipts from the fast food joints – you know – let us know your thoughts and you could win $1,000 – but damn! The recession must've hit Wendy's hard, because their is "tell us about this visit and we'll give you a free Single hamburger"! Wow, Wendy's. Wow. And you can only redeem one every thirty days. You know what – how about I fill it out and give it to a homeless person? Least I can do with this thing. Note: I actually would've done this, but just realized that I needed to fill in the survey within 48 hours of my visit. It's been 79 h 23 min. My bad, random homeless person 🙁 Also, in an amusing side, it appears that Burger King (huh – guess I have fast food more often than I think) doesn't even WANT your two cents – only a portion of it:

Whopper

Still collecting Air/Aeroplan Miles like a fiend – kinda hoping that I'll be able to supplement some of the trips to come with these.

  • Aeroplan Miles to date: 1263
  • Air Miles to date: 609

If anyone has ideas on how to optimize collecting and using these, let me know! I'll post some ideas that I found and go from there – I expect that I have some fellow avid collectors out there!

And now, observe as I forge out into the snow to try and get to work on time!

Plus I have another couple of resumes to look at – commuter reading! Woo!

Digits:

The 2010 20K Running Total = $192.14

Have a great day, y'all!

–case p.

The 2010 20K: Day 40 – From Pocket Change to Potential

I love pay day – seriously love it. New possibilities, new options – it's like waking up and unwrapping a new present to do with as you wish.

As of late, though, my pay days mean more that I get to see my credit card balance reduce at an accelerated rate moreso than getting the shiniest new whatever's out there. With my regular income, I've devoted myself to getting rid of the invisible shackles that hold me down and being able to go into the future a bit more carefree and content 🙂

I remember the days of living cheque to cheque – I mean, I'm 26 with no kids or mortgage, so thank goodness I didn't really have anyone else relying on me to feed or clothe them – it would've been a horrible situation. No, oftentimes it was because of that desire I just mentioned. To be the best dressed. Have the new toy. Eat the finest foods. It was really just me valuing all the wrong things and doing whatever I needed to do to get them.

On one hand, I think that these are the kinds of lessons we all need to learn in our lives at one point or another – and for me, I'm glad that it's something I came across early on – but at the same time, one would hope that people are given enough teaching that they can avoid falling into similar pitfalls. Not everyone gets the same opportunities in life, as we can often see from the disparity between the rich and the poor in our world. I can remember from my time spent as a Financial Sales Representative that I'd often have to counsel people twice my age on their finances, simply because they were never given the same access to knowledge about investing, credit, budgeting, etc. that I had. Now that I'm at a point in my life where I'm purging items more than I am collecting, I can see the benefits of all this and hope that I can eventually pass on what I know to others in such a way that it very practical and easy to follow.

Some easy tips come to mind:

  • Don't spend what you don't have – if you must do so, find the method that costs least (borrowing interest, especially) and/or can be paid off the quickest
  • Try to make do with what you have – mend a tear if you gotta – make notes on envelopes – reuse jars like crazy – do what you gotta!
  • Shop smarter, not cheaper – cheaper isn't always better – example: dollar store batteries versus a solid set of rechargeable batteries, ESPECIALLY if you have a charger! Over time, the money you save from not having to dash out to the store repeatedly to replace those batteries will start to look pretty good once you keep using quality rechargeable batteries through their lifespan – they can last a VERY long time. There are a number of instances like this in life where what seems like a massive investment compared to alternatives in the beginning may turn out to be the better option.

Just some food for thought.

In other news:

  • I did sell that RAM, but my friend discovered that their computer won't actually accept anything higher than what they already had, so we're trying to figure out what we can do to fix the situation
  • The last chart I released in my other blog (chart is NSFW!) became more widespread than I'd expected – about 240 diggs, 70 total comments, 40 notes on Tumblr and 3,250 views on Huffington alone. I'm pretty encouraged by that, despite the rather embarassing nature of the chart itself, lol – I'd like to create something Olympics-related, but nothing's come to mind just yet that really knocks my socks off. If anyone has something they've always wanted to see in chart form, please let me know!
  • I got those three resumes that were on my plate out of the way, and I'm happy to say that the clients are all very happy with the new products I put together for them. I got one person a job in two months after years of looking – maybe I can do the same for you? Let me know!

Otherwise, it's been your regular sort of week – I have a cousin getting married this weekend, so the work time will be reduced significantly, but other than that, the hustle continues as per usual. I have noticed that I haven't quite made it easy to share my blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, what have you – so worry not; new functionality will be on its way!

So, in closing, thanks for joining me once more – please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns or ideas – they're always welcome in the 2010 20K. I can't wait till this cold is over and it gets dark later so I can get out in the world and REALLY do some stuff!

The 2010 20K Running Total: $192.14

Winter, you can't stick around FOREVER, homey!

Have a great Friday, y'all,

–case p.