Monday, January 19, 2009

I have lots of stuff to say it, but not really time.

So you can call me, and maybe I can tell you about it. It's free for me, not for you. So buy an international calling card, and I promise I'll tell you lovely stories.

011 254 726 831 080

Kenya is really sweet.

Friday, January 16, 2009


So, I made it to the top of Kilimanjaro. And I'd really love to tell you about it, but my limited Tanzanian schillings warrant only a limited amount of time on the Internet, and such a subject warrants more time than my notes allow. Plus, I doubt I could focus well, as I just read the Times review of Notorious, and now all I want to do is listen to Juicy, and/or that magical Biggie/Elton John mashup from Night ripper. I don't have my Ipod.

So really, I'm just saying I'm alive. I'll be in Nairobi tomorrow, and I get a cell phone then. So maybe you can all buy international calling cards and call me. I promise it won't be hard to find a suitable hour considering time difference, seeing as my sleeping patterns never really coincided with the average person's anyway.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Currently, I am alive.

After about 36 hours of travelling by way of three flights, two underground trips, and a rather enthralling Land Rover trip, I have arrived. Highlights include meeting an Australian man who bet me 200 pounds in front of Big Ben that Bill Clinton was a senator. I lucked out on the flight to Nairobi and had the entire row of the 747, four seats (one even being superfluous owning to my imposing stature) to myself. But don't worry, because on the plane ride to Kilimanjaro I sat next to the fattest man I've ever seen. (Camp point of reference, Mike Lally, Rest of world point of reference, a Sumo Wrestler). I used to wear a yin-yang necklace when I was a kid and never believed in it until now. I just wanted to look cool/also do karate. Jet lag really hasn't hit, which is pretty superb.

I am staying in a small village called Marangu. I leave tomorrow for the hike.

This is really one of the more beautiful places I've ever seen. Everywhere/one/thing is astoundingly vibrant and colorful. And the girls are really uncommonly pretty. Many of them keep their hair buzz cut short. They all wear kangas, colorful skirts tied around like a towel. Their faces are really striking.

I thought it would be strange at first to be a minority. But I'm coming to realize that the ideas of minorities aren't really applicable. Divisions after all are broken down along tribe lines. Anyone else is just an outsider or foreigner. So to say I am a minority isn't entirely accurate. Mzungu, their term, means basically 'white man.' But I feel more like a linguistic outsider than a phenotypic stranger. The tribe that encompasses the Kilimanjaro area are the Chaga. They speak their own language, and also Swahili. I've ventured several times into the town, only with a guide. Often you get the impression that everyone, including the guide, are making fun of you behind your back. Or, more accurately, in a different language, to your face. I'm having a hard time determing what the local people actually think of tourists. Many times I imagine the conversations with my guide has with the locals as going "Taking the dumb white man out for a touristy stroll around the village again eh?" "Yup." The children are always really excited to see you though. Walking along the river naked boys kept shouting "Jambo!" and "Mzungu!" to me. I can't tell if they were excited to greet a white man, or really they were making fun of me. (Really no problem with nudity, either. At a local swimming hole today my guide stripped down and jumped right in.)

The bird calls at night are pretty interesting. One sounds like a baby crying. It might have just been a baby crying also though. Another makes a sound like holding a ping pong ball over a table and slowly lowering it down so that the bouncing increases until finally it makes a strange echo between the reverberations on the wood and the cup of your hand. Only more guttural. It might have just been a guy holding a ping pong ball and slowly lowering it down so that the bouncing increased until finally it made a strange echo between the reverberations on the wood and the cup of his hand though. Right next to my head. Also, there are roosters, which really do make a cock-a-doodle-do.

Also there is fruit everywhere, and you need only hold up your hand to pull down passionfruits pineapples bananas watermelon mangos. Not the watermelons though, becuase actually, those grow on the ground. Actually so do the pineapple, or more like waist high. So really I suppose you could do a sweep from the earth up to the sky and come up with an entire fruit salad in your hand, if you can hold simultaneously a watermelon, pineapple, and banana, and also cut them and put them in a bowl so that they become fruit salad.

I thought I'd feel uncomfortable, but so far, I haven't. Attribute this to the fact that first, I've only encountered locals with a guide. Second, I'm staying in a hotel which caters to tourists, and not a city, which couldn't give a shit about them.

I have three minutes left on this internet deal. Will write after the hike.

Monday, January 5, 2009


It’s strange now to be on the cusp of departure when for so long this trip has existed only in my head. Understandably I find myself going through periods both of giddy excitement and quiet anxiousness. The majority of my nervousness, I’d say, stems from my trip up Kilimanjaro. Due to mistaken planning on my part, and rather callous inflexibility on my program’s part, I’m not doing the hike I wished to do. So instead of summiting in seven days, I’ll be doing it in five. A longer trip provides better chances for acclimatization, so I’ve been kicking myself the past month or two over not double checking dates and being able to do the hike I originally planned. As it stands, I’ve been (difficultly) persuading myself that reaching the top isn’t important. That the trip and the experience are what matters. This proves more difficult in light of the fact that the standard method of climbing Kilimanjaro comes through the hiring of a guide and the use of porters to carry your things. I’m not sure how spiritual or enlightening a hike can be when your dinner is waiting for you when you arrive at camp, and you only have fifteen pounds on your back.

This doesn’t mean I’m not excited. I certainly am. Only I hold trepidations that become annoyingly persistent the more I entertain them, and are in no part diminished by the fact that still being in America, the outcomes can take any shape they wish in my head.

Background on the mountain: 19,340 ft, the highest peak in Africa (though shorter than a giraffe, apparently - I stole that photo from I forget where, but I think that the giraffe or mountain was photoshopped in), and, (depending on how you reckon the term) the highest freestanding mountain in the world. (Among the highest mountains in the world, however, it doesn’t break the top 100, and I don’t wish to give off the impression that this is a monumental feat.) The coolest part, I think, is that while it lies near the equator, it also climbs high enough to include nearly every climatic zone on earth. (Lots of paranthetical statements here).

I’ll update more on the program when I get the chance. Before, however, I would like to acknowledge the fact that about ten people die every year on the mountain. And while it is not part of my itinerary, there still exists a small chance that I will indeed perish in route. In the unlikelihood of such an event, I would like to express my wishes that my ashes be scattered at camp. If you hold my funeral in a church, I will ensure each and every person’s life in attendance will be haunted by me from the afterlife of my choosing (my preference, the DH, but I'll leave logistics to you all). I think when people say “Wear bright colors at my funeral! I want it to be happy!” they think they’re being unique and cheerful, when in actuality I’m sure that’s in at least five movies, and anyway, doesn’t it seem a bit odd? Celebrate my life all you want man, but face it, I’m dead, that’s sad, so I want you all in formal dress and somber colors. Get drunk all you want, but really, this isn’t a Jake’s Gone! Party. I would also like my life’s savings divided equally between every one of my Facebook friends, even the ones who friended me in the summer between high school and college in order to appear like we knew people freshman year. I want speeches made by my three best friends. I'm not going to say who those are now because what if I don't die? Then you'd all be bitterly angry and upset about not making the list (or being lower on the list than you hoped) and everyone would get in a fight and I'm not even dead. So rest assured that, were I to die, I would find a foolproof method of communicating to everyone who I am choosing to speak. Finally, I want played (in specific order):

Sting: Every Breath You Take
Puff Daddy: I’ll Be Missing You
Sting: Every Breath You Take (so you can really compare them this time)
Venga Boys: Boom Boom Boom Boom
Fatlip: What's Up Fatlip (including the dance)
The Chemical Brothers ft. Fatlip: The Salmon Dance (including this dance)
Andrew Concannon: Kanye West, Wale, Lupe medley of his choosing
Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony (Every second of it)
Taps, but on a bagpipe, because they sound better than horns, and the guy playing has to have a beard. Also, he has to wear a kilt.
Bon Iver: Woods

And the only things you can eat at the after party (at Puffy’s) are vegetables.

P.S. Blogs are kind of weird.
P.P.S. Love you all.