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Nuggets of Life from Mt Kilimanjaro

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What are you grateful for today?

Among other things, gratitude allows us to celebrate the small wins and appreciate our efforts and progress.

 Making it to the summit of the world’s highest free-standing mountain is something I am deeply grateful for. Standing on Africa’s highest point was truly epic. The views are simply breathtaking. The journey to that point can, however, be daunting and I am grateful for this experience in its wholeness.

Mt Kilimanjaro is about setting goals, staying focused and then pushing yourself up into thin air. Sharing some nuggets of life from Mt Kilimanjaro is not an inspiration from the goals I set or how much I stayed focused or pushed myself. It is rather inspired by the people that made this happen. Those who inspired me to set the goals, stay focused and push myself to the highest point in Africa- 5885 meters above sea level. I share with you three nuggets of life I took with me from the people I was so privileged to experience during my seven days adventure on Mt Kilimanjaro.

The friends we choose.

Conquering Mt Kilimanjaro was a goal outside of my comfort zone. @Victoria and @Evelyn inspired me to believe I could do this. Together, we created the possibility that we could successfully trek Kilimanjaro, having conquered Mt Kenya the previous year. United in our goal, we planned, endured and conquered.

 

Kilimanjaro is often about sitting around in the dining tent, talking into the night with your friends about the shared daily experience. With neither wifi nor electricity on the mountain, you lose track of time. You connect with nature. Most importantly, you are fully present in the now with the people around you. There were moments when it got so tough and hopeless. There were other breathtaking moments of sheer beauty and delight. We cried. We laughed. We danced. We sat in silence. It never felt unsafe to show vulnerability- we were among friends; we could lay our hearts bare. Whom you choose for this journey (and in life) matters a great deal.

 

Keep moving in the right direction

Altitude is the main problem when trekking up Kilimanjaro. The higher you climb the harder and slower the hike due to lower oxygen levels. Pole pole (Swahili for slow and steady) is the Kilimanjaro mantra.

Our guides led by @Boniventure were amazing companions in this journey. They exuded positivity and a can-do attitude especially during the tough phases of the climb. They explained the concept of pole pole — a phrase we would hear over and over for seven days. It was their gentle way of saying we will make it to the summit one step at a time. It came in handy, in times when the journey looked endless; when we felt we had neither the energy nor the desire to keep climbing. With their help, we learned to find a steady rhythm — a combination of breathing and putting one foot in front of the other without stopping. This helped us cover amazing distances and heights without noticing. Summit night is particularly memorable. Our guides would literally hold our hands and pole pole, we navigated the ice capped path to the summit. With their amazing patience, support and good will, we conquered.

 

Every team member counts

It took the experience, expertise, and collaboration of each team member to get us to the top. The guides, the porters, the climbers – we were all one team. The dedication and strength of the Kilimanjaro porters was particularly striking. These are the men and women who helped carry our gear to the summit. They made it possible for us to navigate our way up the mountain.

 

Porters are at the bottom of the pecking order of the Kilimanjaro hierarchy. Yet, without them, climbing Mt Kilimanjaro would be a mere dream for many.

 

The team sets up the tents, takes down the tents, cooks the food, fetches the water, and cleans the campsite. We did not have to use our precious energy doing any labor; we focused on acclimatizing to the altitude and enjoying the hike. Kilimanjaro is really a community goal, which means taking care of each other– the true spirit of Ubuntu.

 

About the Author
Rosemary Mburu is a social justice activist with a passion for people and communities. She is the founder of Nuggets of Life, a storytelling platform offering a deep exploration of the human spirit as taught to us by ordinary people in the streets of life around the world.

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