Day 1 – The one with the sassy little girl

After a 40 hour journey, we’re finally in Kenya! This is my third trip with my cousin Arun, and as we’re both have the wanderlust gene, we decided to take advantage of cheap airfare to visit my cousin Anup, who is in Kenya for a year of service as a surgeon in a local mission hospital.

As all we did last night was drive to Kijabe and go to sleep, today is our real Day 1.

Mad props to lady above. Suffice it to say, this is a country with many unusual sights and sounds. In order to maximize our experience, we opted for an early start and decided to climb Mt. Longonut, which has a peak that was demolished by a crater. For all the Albertans out there, this was a the elevation gain was one that was akin to climbing Sulphur Mountain (you know, the one in Banff with the gondola), except the foot of the mountain was where Sulphur Mountain’s peak would be.

One of the things that surprised me was that how dusty it was. When I’ve thought of Africa (probably a hang up from when I was younger), I picture desert in the north and everything else is jungle. As most of you know, I was wrong. There’s quite a bit of brush, hardy grass and nothingness here. At the same time, most of the world’s roses are grown here (see the greenhouses below).

Now, back to the mountain: Even though I live at a nice elevation above sea level, this climb started to give me all the symptoms of altitude sickness halfway up the mountain. Anup offered to wait, while the others continued to the peak.

It was actually kinda nice to take some time at the half way point and take it all in. Trees like the ones above were scattered everywhere and just added to the stark beauty of the area. After waiting for about 40 minutes (and meeting some Columbia Business School students on their spring break and chatting about M-Pesa and going into finance), we started climbing again.

The second half was definitely a lot easier, with the ascent not being as steep. Lots of little breaks ensured that we got to the top before the others finished going around the crater.

The view was totally worth the second bout of altitude sickness.

It was amazing how fast the descent was and how quickly I felt better as we left the thinner air behind. When we started climbing, there were hardly any people around but now on the way down, there were a whole bunch of schoolchildren making their way up (mostly between 10-13). One of these little girls was huffing and puffing on the side of the trail as we were descending. She looks at us and goes, ” You went to the top?! You are a warrior!” As we laughed and told her she was close to the top and didn’t have long to go, she closes her eyes, looks at the summit and cried under her breath, “Lord Jesus, help me!” (I feel you, little girl!). Suffice it to say that we’ll be quoting this wise sage a lot during this trip!

As nothing can really trump this, here is a picture of my post-Longonut meal: masala tilapia with sukuma wiki (a Kenyan kale dish),  washed down with a pineapple-mango smoothie.

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