This was the first time I have flown internationally, and as such I didn’t know what to expect. People always assume that because I enjoy climbing that I have no fear or that it doesn’t play a significant role in my life.
Being alone is scary but often times rewarding. Feeling alone is horrifying to me. I felt completely clueless flying out of JFK–I probably don’t need to reference the bedside manner of the TSA, but lets say they are not at the apex of quality customer service. They didn’t hassle me about my diabetes supplies though, so that was a plus.
My first flight was a 10 hour haul to Istanbul–which was literally the best flight I have ever been on. Turkish Airlines wait on you hand and foot, give you all sorts of free stuff, prepare great food (relative to the context!) and they have an outstanding movie selection!
To make things better I made friends with my neighbor, a fellow from Ankara, Turkey named Bugra (pronounced Boo-ra) who was a great traveling companion and hopefully we will stay in touch for when I bring the Project365 documentary to Turkey!
When I arrived in Istanbul however, things were much less inviting. No one spoke English, everyone wore too much cologne and was in a rush to go somewhere presumably important. My travel credit card didn’t work and to top it off, I started to feel ill. Here I am in the middle of the world without anyone to connect to, and no way to even connect my phone to the Internet (no free wifi in airports!).
“What if I get sick?” I thought. How will I go back or go forward? Neither seemed viable. So I just kept drinking water (bottled) and I tried to keep on the proper schedule with malaria pills…
After another long flight, I landed at Kilimanjaro airport near Arusha, Tanzania–at 3:45 AM. Upon getting out of the plane, I was greeted by a horde of mosquitoes, who must have instinctively know that I’ve been fretting about Malaria and Dengue fever.
I was able to screw up the visa application process by accidentally attempting to circumvent the final two stages of this three stage process…but throw in a couple hours of fitful sleep and several bumpy cab rides and I arrived in Arusha, my “pre-Kili” destination.
The drivers here take traffic laws and indeed safety itself as a suggestion, and no one seems to get too worked up much, despite frequent horn honking and furious driving on roads that are rutted or littered with potholes.
The people here seem genuinely happy. No one has a lot by our standards, materially, but seeing the kindness and humility these folks live by, it makes one wonder if maybe they have a lot more than we realize at first glance.
I made many new friends upon arriving at the lodge in Arusha, some of whom will be part of our team (which ill introduce more later) and others who had already summited and had great advice and stories to share. One new friend I met actually is from Park City UT! Small world we live in…
Finally…diabetes, my “other” climbing partner! Had some highs and lows. You know, normal diabetes stuff. None of those killed me, so I feel like I’m doing ok–I broke one of my cardinal rules and ate rice with dinner so I’m pretty high now and it’s not wanting to come down. Frankly, though I’m more concerned with getting a parasitic infection or “the scoots” from contaminated water or food.
We begin climbing on Friday so tomorrow will be devoted to prepping gear, charging my Goal Zero yeti 150 (which will power my ability to capture images) and sleeping in and hydrating! Stay tuned to our social media feeds because its a lot harder to keep things up to date via the blog than it is via shorter postings!