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Baranco Camp- Day 3

Day 3 Baranco camp

As I laid down in our tent, my Fitbit reads 26473 steps, 11.6 miles,3481 calories,147steps,285mins of exercise for today. Honestly, my Fitbit maybe inaccurate because in truth we hiked from 7:45 am to 5 pm with an hour lunch break at Lava tower where we were at a higher elevation, about 4000 ft precisely, to help with acclamization. So far this was the hardest day we’ve had! First Adaeze and I started having headaches as we hiked to the highest elevation so far on our trip …Kilimanjaro is just under 5000m above sea level, aka 19,500ft. Then after lunch , Amara started with a headache that had her crying and unable to keep in her pace down from the lava tower. She felt miraculously better after ibuprofen and pee break and the she tapped the whole way down the mountain to Baranco camp. The oldest three were champs and literally zoomed down the mountain with the help of our guides, while DH and I stayed back to nurse Amara back to health which didn’t take much thankfully.

Ada said her headache went away after increasing hydration with Gatorade and some trailmix snacks. I on the other hand did not get relief from trail mix or hydration or even ibuprofen sadly, I felt exhausted by the time DH, Amara and I arrived camp and literally fell asleep right after we reunited with our other children who were in such high spirits. Where the heck did they get their energy?! They were settled in at dinning tent eating popcorn and yapping away to one another when we arrived . It was so good to see them warm and safe as I kissed each of their faces as if we hadn’t just left eachother a little while ago on the trail when their sister got sick. The guides had wanted them to keep their pace to get down to lower elevation as soon as and as safely as possible , I understood this somehow but didn’t help my anxious mind when I couldn’t easily follow them with my eyes down the mountain.

DH and the chef Amosi woke me up for dinner an hour later , I was grateful for the rest but could have slept longer . The kids played shadow puppet and put your on a show for us after dinner in the dinning tent right after our senior Guide Propser came to brief us as usual about our schedules the next day. We had contemplated skipping the next camp and hiking all the way to a further camp tomorrow . We thought this could give us a whole day of rest at base camp but after reviewing all the logistics including that once at base camp, we would be required to attempt a summit the following early morning for various reasons including scarcity of water at base camp. We decided it best to take our time to stay at Katanga camp tomorrow night before proceeding to base camp the next day and this would also avoid fatigue since the hike tomorrow would be about 4hrs instead of about 10hrs followed by an attempt at summit before sunrise , yup that would be doing wayyy too much in my opinion.

The kids moved their show and play into the girls tent, playing UNO card game and coming up with the cutest and silliest dares for eachother. DH joined them with the game while I lay next to al of them in our crowded but much warmer tents thanks to all the family together in a small tent. Alex was witty as usual but more quiet , he now complained of a headache while Alan and the girls were going full speed laughing and carrying on. DH and I urges them to wrap up the game as it was getting late and the boys did goodnight to us and headed next door to their own tent. Minutes later , due to the cold outside, I begrudgingly get up to go use the out house bathroom one last time before bedtime only to find Alex had puked right outside their tent….Oh Laud!  I help him clean up all the while praying that he just over ate at dinner and this is nothing serious.

All is quiet now , my headache is lessened in intensity, the camp site is sleeping, the porters and guides have also all quieted down their chatters in their tents, you can hear snoring from nearby tents while the starts shine so bright over head. The southern cross and the Milky Way appear so close, so beautiful. I send a prayer for safety for the rest of our journey. I also pray and call by names loved ones near and far for blessing. I especially ask God to keep my family and I safe and healthy on this mountain.

Until tomorrow…. thanks for reading.

Day 2 -Shira Camp!

13F58EFE-6EB4-4E39-8FBB-A517FBF389A5Shira Camp – Day 2!!

We set out to Shira Camp from Macahme camp at exactly 8 am after another lovely meal by chef Amos. As usual the guides set the pace and give protection for all of us especially since this terrain was very rocky and steep. The kids keep up with the pace without many “ How much longer?”

Everyone appears healthy, the boys literally are playing  aka talking through “magic the gathering “ card game from memory … “ oh we memorized our decks Mom”… okay then🤨while the girls DH and myself play the game “name the celebrity alphabet game “. This helps past the time and distract from the tasking climb. Oh by the way, Amara is fully mended from her right elbow injury. Incidentally I omitted to mention that while we were enjoying an excellent Israeli dinner with my cousin ,on our last night in New York , Amara hurt her arm while jumping around on the staircase … long story short blah blah blah , we ended up taking a cab to the nearest urgent care center , an X-ray , an arm sling and 3 hrs later  and lots of TLC we are released and able to fly to Africa the next morning.Phew😅

But I digress… the point is ,she is totally fine and back to all things Moo baby again while on the mountain . The kids tolerated us asking to get pictures,well because they were forwarned ahead of time that we deserved pictures of this expedition and there was to be no complains nor whines about that. Just smile and say cheese and viola! that’s what they mostly did. The terrain was tougher on day 2 so having the trekking poles were helpful for my running aging knees lol. We all took it easy.

We got to Shira camp around 1 pm, settled in with lunch , girls and I took a nap while the twins “ rough hausing “- their words exactly when I asked what they did while we napped lol. We had another short acclimatization hike and came down for a medical check before dinner and bedtime. No headaches no nausea , no altitude sickness , So far so good!.

I got a chance to write and it feels good because I truly want to hold and cherish these mountain memories for as long as possible. Also because I enjoy writing and I hope that you too enjoy reading . Thank for you for visiting my blog and for your comments and follows.

g.

Day 1 Machame Camp

Day 1 Machame camp ( June 19th 2019)

We woke up early to eat breakfast and drive to the Machame gate, the entrance for our route to mount “Kili” as it’s sometimes belovingly called by the locals. Incidentally we got a lot of Swahili lessons by the locals that accompanied us,for example Kiliman means Mountain while Njaro  means “ glistening water”. This makes a lot sense given this wondrous snow capped mountain is one of kind in the world, the only snow capped mountain in Africa. The first explorers to climb did so in the 1800s while the National Park was opened officially in the 1970s. You have to forgive my approximation of dates, but I’m recalling from memory and have no access to goggle now lol. My DH summited Mt Kilimanjaro shortly after we started dating in 2003, and sixteen years later he is bringing his wife and four young children to behold the beauty of this majestic mountain.

We had logistical things to take care of at the gate like registration and signing waivers for our young children. Incidentally the youngest official age to climb is 10yrs, and our twins are hoping to be the youngest official summiteers as their birthday will be on summit day – God willing🙏🏾. Ofcourse our youngest Amara is only 8yrs, She obviously recognizes what a big feat she’s embarking on but mostly acts as if she’s there to cheer on her brothers to get to set “the record”. Adaeze is a gentle strong sister who really does an excellent job at leading our awesome foursome. We know that we have been truly blessed by family and we are grateful.

The climb on the first day started at noon and ended around 6 pm. We go through the first zonation which is the rainforest, it looks like something out of this world with fog draping the atmosphere as part of a Hollywood screen set. We have several guides and porters who are amazing and help the pace, Baracca a young gentleman sets the pace from front while our kids line up behind him in a single file… poleh poleh which means slowly slowly, we make our way up the mountain.

We arrived our first camp site and the kids are still energetic infact stating that it felt easier than they expected while DH and myself exchange a knowing look of silent triumph and gratitude. We are so proud of them! Our senior guide had mentioned in the briefing the night before that there were four ingredients to determine 95% success on the mountain, 1) nutrition 2) hydration 3) positivity 4)cooperation and so far our kids had 💯, and we could not be more satisfied. The other 5 % he promised to share later on the mountain

We were welcomed to Ist camp with warm water for our face Wash and it felt like a piece of heaven- by now the wind had picked up and the sun was set and gone with it was it’s brilliant warmth, which made the gesture by our guides , feel all the more precious!

After we freshened up , we were invited to our dining tent where our chef Amos dazzle with his creations and presentation of various meals. How the heck did they transport all this items up the mountain so quickly in enough time to settle in and already prepare such delicious meals for us??? . I decided that was an inquiry for another day, for now we sat down and enjoyed a family dinner while our senior guide kept us company ,incidentally part of his job was to monitor our nutritional intake. Anything to keep us safe and healthy and for this and more I was extremely grateful.

I fell asleep quickly before I could write , in a tent I shared with girls while DH and the twins shared another tent next to us. DH made a loving gesture when he told the kids “mommy and the girls will have the middle tent that way they’ll be warmer because mommy gets cold easily “. Good call Babe , I slept better and warmer …  well as well as one can in a tent in the mountains of Kilimanjaro.

Sleeping in the foothills of this enormous mountain conjured up feelings of respect within me , respect for the creator of such majesty and a reminder of grace. Grace that God’s love bestows on me as such a small creature compared to all the majesty surrounding me.  I am truly grateful for God’s love and care.

Finally thank you for reading and coming along on the journey with us. I hope to keep documenting our experiences hiking Kilimanjaro and then onto the safari and beyond so stay tuned…hope you enjoy then pictures!

Hujambo!

Okay so about 13 hrs of flight across the Atlantic, we arrived in Nairobi Kenya. Took another quick flight right away to land at Kilimanjaro International Airport. Both flight were thankfully very smooth, but I must say , it is a long time to be flying over the Atlantic if you ask me. I tried to mostly sleep, fell asleep while praying my rosary, then watched random flight movies, cuddled my daughters who sat on both of my sides, anything to distract me from the fact that all my life’s most precious cargo – my family, were all aboard this flight flying over a huge ocean.

My DH sat with our twin boys directly infront of our seats. I am sure his mind was checking off many mental lists and maybe even wondering “ what the F**k are we even doing embarking on such an adventure with our young children?”…..But his smile was always reassuring as if to say “ God’s got us”. Indeed the truth is that God has always had us. We flew next to the commanding  mountain Kilimanjaro and we awed at its majesty from the  sight we glimmered from our plane’s windows.

I was so relived to  get off the long flights and to touch foot again on Mother Africa’s soil – Alleulia!!! Once we cleared customs, a friendly face was outside to greet us. His name was Hilary, a short strong build man with a kind smile, a representative from our outfitters- Gladys Adventure Tours. Our driver drive us about 35 mins to our hotel and we were met by more warm faces greeting our family with handshakes and introductions, even cold glasses of mango juices for each of us.

We were showed to our room and multiple hands helped bring what now looked to me like  way too many bags to our rooms. Watching them hurling all our luggage in a linear procession reminded me of a scene from Coming to America, except we were definitely no royalty. I just kept wondering if we had over packed -yikes

My concern of overpacking quicker disappeared when the two tour guides who will lead us up “Kili” tomorrow insisted on inspecting each and every piece of required item for the climb. Turns out I didn’t pack a snow pant / rain pants after all in all that luggage – crap! .

Next on the agenda , we drove with them to the “Office” where we  rented needed items such as hiking poles etc and ohbyes snow  pants for me ,  were instructed on our route for tomorrow and given lessons on safety and how to pack our “day pack” and picked a name for our group, Alan came up with “ Gold Mane” , it was mostly unopposed in vote so yup that’s our group name -Gold Mane ( as in Lion gold mane get it ?). Finally we even got to meet the founder of the Gladys Adventure Tours, a round faced beautiful woman who appeared energetic. We settled our bill with her and then heard back to hotel for a nice family dinner.

It’s been a long day of travel, the kids have been patient and positive throughout. They mostly laugh and play with each other,  finding ways to entertain themselves while DH and I talk business with our tour guides, our 8 yr old insisting on rescuing an ant who was struggling for survival on its back , by stooping  down to blow air on the ant I order to blow  it back to upright stance for example. A sort aof ant CPR I suppose- ah  Childhood energy and wonderment .

DH and I are exhausted after we get kids showers and tucked in, we had to repack all our luggage all over again, distributing it equally for our porters to handle for the journey.

I am writing because I want to remember as many details about this journey, and as many intimate moments as possible. I also am writing because I now know that some of you are reading and following our journey.  Thank you for taking time to read my blog and for your comments and follows.  As one of my dear friends reminded me  of today ….. I can’t wait to bring  God’s majestic creation Kilimanjaro to you through our eyes!

Jambo!

Embarking on Kilimanjaro….

05BE2741-295B-4636-AA84-4574CDF26B31Sunday June 16th 2019… in about 8 hrs my husband and I are taking our four precious children on a trip of a lifetime. We have spent the past two days enjoying NewYork City ‘s tourist sites and visiting family and old friends. This is our pit stop on our way to Tanzania to hike Kilimanjaro. Yes the highest free standing mountain in Africa! And did I mention we are going with our four children ages 11yrs daughter , twin boys who will turn 10yrs the day we summit and our 8yr old daughter?. We have had our eye on this goal for  several years now and now we are just hours away from embarking on the journey.

I’m writing to release my nerves but I also am so excited at the possibility. To see with our own eyes, majestic creations of God while bonding our family ties . Summit day will find us exhilarated and I’m sure tired , maybe even exhausted, but definitely GRATEFUL!

Grateful for the opportunity, grateful for this beautiful life we share together. It has taken a lot of sacrifice to do this and my DH has been such a ROCK in planning and executing this family adventure . I am most grateful for his love and adventurous spirit that motivates us all.

My prayer is that of safety and joy! I have asked loved ones for their prayers and kind thoughts as we journey.  I will ask the same of you , my readers  .

I plan to document our trip as we go and you are welcome to come along on the adventure with us! I hope to look back on this someday with even more GRATITUDE to have gone and seen for ourselves Kilimanjaro!

The Intro…

Frozen! I have dreamed of sharing my ideas with the world for as long as I can recall . There is so much I feel I need to say so then why do I feel inhibited now? I finally figured out what buttons to click to start a blog and phbbbbtttt I’m frozen?! I sit with my quiet for a while and glance around me. My feet are on our minivan’s dashboard, our children contentedly watching “CoCo” on DVD, while my DH ( Dashing Husband) is driving our family of 6 back home from vacationing in Destin , Florida. The truth is as I sit in my inner quiet , I mostly feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I have just spent an amazing time away from my normal routine , skiing in the mountains of Colorado and then soaking up the early springtime Florida sunshine. The contrast of glistening white snow on my face to the soft white beach sand on my feet has been incredible!
I am enraptured in the beautiful thoughts of gratitude that comes from taking a vacation. Nope nothing frozen about these thoughts . They come pouring out, filling my heart with gratitude. How can we underestimate the importance of getting away to one’s peaceful , awe striking place? I know we can’t all afford the time or resources to physically get away on vacation,therefore may I suggest that you consider occasionally creating a mental space as your own escape . These places and spaces truly rejuvenate our human spirit , giving us what it takes to tackle life’s next to do list , whether a challenge or just returning to your normal routine !