Friday, November 25, 2011

Jambo! Kili Day 2

Good morning, from 3000 meters above sea level!

The unzipping of tent doors is my wake up call, it's time for Day Tw- my thoughts are interrupted. "Go back to bed!" I hear our guide calling out, followed by stifled laughter. For a split second, it is summer camp and 'lights out' is being enforced: "Rest for another hour," the voice suggests, "You'll need the energy."

Zip zip.. an hour later, tent doors fly open again. "Khalas, it should be time," I hear my aunts say. We went to bed at 8PM, it's no wonder some are restless. I stretch my arms out and toss around, always one to cherish the snooze button. But our tent shakes, someone's outside.

"Jambo! Habari Gani?" (Hello! how are you?) Our local porter's voice is friendly but certain- it's officially time. I smile, remembering my introduction to Swahili just a few days back. "Jambo", I'd repeat after the coffee lodge staff, and they'd follow with "Jambo Jambo" and start singing what is clearly a popular song. "Try it!" I say to my friend incredulously. "Just say Jambo Jambo and they'll do the rest."

We step out of our tents and there stands Mount Meru in the distance, proud and ever magnificent in the 7AM sun. We are in the "heather zone" having cleared the rainforest yesterday, but Kibo (which is the highest of Kili's 3 volcanic cones) remains hidden from view. Whether it's behind the fog or somewhere else, I can't tell; you don't quite grasp how big a mountain is until you're within its folds. We have about 840 meters to climb today and I am determined to learn the remaining "Jambo" lyrics and understand what they mean. A touch of local culture.

We set off and I think back to our arrival into Kilimanjaro airport. Being in town was such a tease. The trip through Arusha to the lodge was like a cross-sectional view into African rural life, but only accessible through the windowpane. There we were, in the middle of nature, and I was just fixiated on the road- "the artery of life", as Amo WYZ put it. On either side, the terrain is a mixture of sand, shrubs, and incredible jakaranda trees. What lies beyond this road is a mystery to me; children in school uniforms are walking to and fro, where their homes are is anyone's guess. Like the River Nile, this road brings to the countryside of Tanzania commerce, life. It connects people, provides access to goods, services, schools. Mobile phones can be refilled with credit. Hair salons, bars, and convenience stores line the pavement on both sides. Our safari van stops momentarily and I feel like an intruder into their lives: A striking young woman with beautiful dimples is smiling coyly at a man on a motorbike. They part as we start moving again, and she heads in the same direction as us, the motorbike driving in the opposite direction. On occasion, they separately turn back for one final glance. Where's the next meeting, I wonder.

I'm grateful for the chance to interact with Tanzanians during our climb so I can get a better glimpse of it all. Although we walk slowly and keep our chatter to a minimum ("conserve your energy!"), there is still enough time to exchange life stories and ask questions about our various cultures. When we break for lunch, we find ravens circling about. I think I spot a chipmunk scurrying into a shrub.

I don't remember much of the rest of the climb, probably because sometime into it I started feeling lightheaded from the change in altitude. When we got to our camp for the night, it started to rain and I lay in my tent, first to rest and then to wait for an intermission from the downpour.

It was colder that night, but dinner was delicious and certainly well earned. We are slowly but surely inching our way to the summit. Just before bed, I learn my last expression for the day: Lala salama... Sleep well!


Anonymous said...

I hope when you say "Jambo, Jambo," they respond by singing "Jambo Number Five" by Lou Bega.

Great post Noura! Keep them coming!

Much love,

Mona K Shahab said...

Noura you should the smile on my face when I first find out that you've written something on your blog! Can't wait to read your book. So eloquent mashallah!

I am so looking forward to our climb in February and reading this wants me to fast forward to February even though we're not ready yet!

Keep on writing!

Bear hug,

Sherry Massif said...

I love that expression lala salama.

IT began as a field diary for my summer in Jizan (2006) under the title "Watch Out Bubba Gump." Now I'm not sure what it is... but I do know it's time for me to start writing again.