Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"The Hills are Alive...."

Written October 12, 2010

"with the sound of music....ah, ahh, aaahhhh!"

Ok, I promise I did not really break out into show tunes when I recently climbed my first mountain. Mainly because I was too out of breath!

I have been jealously hearing stories from other volunteers climbing mountains and seeing breath taking scenes of various TZ landscapes. So when some of the gang in my region was going up a nearby mountain, I jumped at the chance....and that was the last time I jumped for about a week! Even though the constant walking and hand-washing of my clothes has helped shed pounds and gain muscle, I found I am not still the spry young lass I think I am.

The mountain we climbed is actually a crater filled with a lake called Ngozi Crater. To get there we first had about an hour walk along a gravel road. This led to basically the base of the crater.

We then started a gradually ascending path through a beautiful jungle-forest. There were lots of vines and moss hanging from trees of all sizes. There were lots of wild banana trees much bigger than ones growing in my ville. It reminded me of The Jungle Book, one of Disney's all-time greatest movies. I think it is also a famous novel?!

After walking another 45-ish minutes, we reached the point of real climbing. Now I am told this climb is one of the easier ones in my area. So I do not want to come off sounding like I climbed Killimanjaro. BUT I come from the side of Kentucky with easy rolling hills not the Appalachian Trail. Needless to say I was not sprinting up the 75degree angles of dirt and tree roots as some of my more advanced friends were!

Thankfully everyone was really supportive and encouraged me to go at my own pace. The path was really beautiful. Occasionally we could see glimpses through the trees out across the land. Some of the group even saw a monkey!

The view from the top was spectacular! The lake was surrounded by the crater's tree-lined perimeter. Once we caught our breath, we enjoyed lunches we had carried up. There is a path-more or less- down to the lake that the bravest can take. On trail rides at home when I have a horse carrying me around, I am all for trekking out anywhere, anytime.

But here I was perfectly content setting on my rock while my friends headed down. I passed the time with my new fav activities- taking pictures of myself and using the video tool on my camera to pretend I am hosting my own show on The Travel Channel. (Have not had good enough internet connection to upload or email these but hope to soon!)

At this point a group of Tanzanians reached the summit as well. When I explained my friends had taken the clearing down to the lake, this group had to do the same. They definitely did not want to be out done by the group of "mazungu".

Having just watched my friends cross a very narrow ledge in various low-croutching positions wearing sturdy hiking shoes, it was quite entertaining to watch the locals breeze across it. Some were barefoot, and the women were dressed nicely with jewelry and hair-dos. Though I should mention when we reached the bottom of the real climb section there were vans waiting on this group so they evidently skipped the 2 hour initial walk!

A few from their group also stayed behind, including an elderly German gentleman who is here consulting for a hospital. I had an interesting conversation with him in English about how he and his wife have volunteered with German programs similar to PC.

The trip down the mountain went much faster. I was really dragging along the gravel road but made it back to the main road in one piece!