Sunday, October 24, 2021
Saturday, July 17, 2021
Saturday, July 3, 2021
|Nay's family came to visit|
|Irene at open house|
On Saturday, we decided that we needed to invite a variety of friends to come to an open house so that we would have a final time of sharing and farewells with them. We remain grateful for the covered veranda on our house, where we could safely sit with friends in the fresh air. Many dear friends from church came to spend some time.
About halfway through the afternoon, Oren started getting dressed up to go to his Year 11 Graduation dinner. The IGCSE exams are considered a big deal in the Cambridge system, and the end of one key stage of education. A number of students will be going on to other schools next year, even university.
Sunday was officially the “farewell Sunday” for us at church. Several people are leaving together with us, and sadly, they all seem to be key musicians at church. Our little church choir met once the week before to prepare a few songs – great to sing together once more. And I offered the sermon that Sunday – about how storms can sweep in on us at any time, even when we are faithfully following Jesus. We feel a bit like this, with COVID and the loss of our job in Arusha. But we know so many friends who are dealing with serious illness or strife in their families, through no fault of their own. Many of them need the comfort of knowing that Jesus is with them in the boat. After church, we enjoyed one final actual bible study with our family bible study group. They have meant so much to us as a foundation and support over the past three years. And then we headed home to make sure all was ready for… Secondary Activities week!
Here is what Oren has to say about it, taken by dictation: “The trip was pretty nice. We went to the beach with my friends. We went snorkeling in a mangrove forest off kayaks. In the afternoon, we were riding on an inflatable hot dog pulled by a speedboat. We also went snorkeling in a coral reef. I saw a moray eel and an octopus. At high tide, we were able to jump off a very high jetty. The only downside was the long 12-hour bus ride back and forth each way.”
|My second hand shop|
We also learned of some great sorrow on our team in Ethiopia. Our accountant Eyerusalem is due to be married on July 4, but her mother passed away over the weekend. On top of that, her fiancé was meant to arrive on Monday from Zambia, but he also got caught up in this visa problem and couldn’t travel without doing a similar process to us. And in addition, another staff member has a mother in critical condition with a respiratory illness. Our hearts were heavy for our colleagues, even as we were trying to wrap things up on our side.
On Friday evening, our children returned to us from their various trips. Things were a bit discombobulated with uncertain arrival times for each of them but in the end, we collected them from school and went to grab a quick dinner out at a restaurant at the mall near our house. When we got home, I was intending to spend several hours finally working on packing, and I realized that my phone was no longer in my possession. With horror, I realized that I had left it behind at the mall! We called my number and a man answered to say that he had found my phone (and driving license) and that we could pick it up from him in the morning when he came back to work. I was pretty stressed about it all night, but in the end, we managed to recover it, and that guy got a big thank you gift from us! It underlined to me how essential it is to have one’s phone in a time of transition.
|bible study farewell|
|Bible study farewell|
I was glad to have one more Sunday at our church, doing what I nearly always have been doing – taking a taxi early to do something or other for the service. This time, our friend Neil invited me to play music with him one last time, and I was glad to do it as long as I could just show up and practice on the morning of. There were some tears as we said final farewells to a few people after the service and then headed back home. Nay came with her children to say a farewell to us in the afternoon. Her kids had wanted to give gifts to our kids, and soon they were parading around in Maasai shukas and practicing with the Hadzabe bow David had bought on his field trip. At 4 pm we transitioned into playing our ultimate game of Ultimate Frisbee with the neighbors and a few friends from outside the compound. Again, it was a tough game, and the speed of the younger folk seemed to overwhelm the skill of some of the adults. I’m so glad we were able to establish this tradition while we have been in Tanzania – it took the place of the folk dances that we once hosted in Burundi, an active social opportunity that brings various people together to enjoy each other’s company in a unique way. And our growing boys have enjoyed frisbee a whole lot more than dancing, and are both really quite good at the game now. We left our frisbees with the neighbors and made them Admins of the WhatsApp group so that they might summon a game at some point in the future.
|Picturesque 18th hole on an island|
We needed one final “normal” evening at home after school. Oren and I took that 5k walk down the road in the evening and had a good chance to talk about random things. I’ve really been glad to live in a place where it’s been easy to get our boys out to walk and talk with us. Hopefully, we will still find a way to do that in a more crowded, busy city. After dinner, I decided to work on packing until after midnight and found that we were going to need a bigger boat, i.e. more suitcases. I definitely had to get our house in a condition where Nay could clean most of the bedrooms with the vacuum cleaner so that I could pack the vacuum into a suitcase!
Many of us had ordered a particular dish that turned out to be unavailable, so the manager, Festo, showered us with appetizers on the house. Interesting how we got to know him well two years ago when our volunteer’s backpack was stolen at that restaurant, but that’s part of how relationships are formed. Towards the end, all the restaurant staff paraded our sad little store-bought cake out to present to Oren, complete with a festive version of “Jambo Bwana.” He was embarrassed, but it was very fun. Honestly, it was probably the best kind of birthday party for a kid turning 16. We really hope to see these good friends again when we come back to Tanzania for a visit, or maybe even in Maryland, (one family originates from the same county as my parents).
It’s all a bit surreal, as I sit in a new home on Saturday morning finishing this blog, basically, all unpacked, and try to take it in. This is now our new home. It’s not a visit or temporary situation. We will need to grow and adapt and learn to love a new place.
|Last view of Kili from the plane.|
We will be leaving this blog site and moving full time to our Ethiopia blog which we have already begun as we have been in transition for several months. To follow us in the future, you can go to: https://pamosleyet.blogspot.com/
A few more bonus photos
|Tramp's last day with us|
|David with his awesome music teacher, Mr. Kalule|
|With Katie, S and Lena|
|Patrick, Paul and Mike|
|David and buddies|
Saturday, June 19, 2021
Fortunately, we had a fair number of the items on the long equipment list needed: Oren had tried the ascent the year before with a school group, and we had invested in some gear for him. Our predecessors in Ethiopia also left some awesome daypacks complete with camel water tanks that we brought back for the trek. The tour company rep. insisted that we come up to the town of Moshi the evening before our trek began to go through a final equipment check and to meet our guide.
From Londorosi gate we drove to Lemosho gate where our trek officially began.
|Black and white colobus monkey|
Our seven-kilometer hike ended in the evening at a camp called Mti Mkubwa (big tree). Our porters and cook ran ahead of us and already had our tent set up with our mattresses down and gear inside. There was also a mess tent with two chairs and a table, already set with hot beverages and popcorn. It was always amazing to arrive to a completely set-up campsite. Dinner came after we had some water to wash and did some unpacking for the evening. Dinner was always a multicourse meal beginning with soup and always included fresh fruit and vegetables. I felt like I was at very nice restaurant. Our food was also always delivered by one of the porters onto the table, like a waiter. We were not responsible for clean-up either. The paradox of being in a high-end restaurant in a very rustic setting was characteristic of a lot of the experiences we had on the trip--grueling luxury.
|Shira II Camp|
|Meru above the clouds|
|Our team: back row Vuvuzela, Enocki, Raimondi, Ola, |
Simon, Charles, Me and Paul.
Front row: Juma, Daniel,Rashidi, Linus
That night when we went to bed, the temperature dropped well below freezing. Our wash water froze solid by the next morning. Once again I was amazed to find that I was toasty warm in the polartech tent in my fiberfill sleeping bag.
The hike up to Lava Tower was quite exhausting, and you could feel the air was thinner. Once again, the cook and porters were waiting for us with the mess tent set up and hot tea waiting. After tea they served us some lunch, then while they packed back up, we started back down the other side of the point toward Barranco camp. We were told it was a shorter hike down than up, but it did not feel that way to us. In fact, the descent was very steep and difficult to do quickly. It felt that this day was at least as long as the day before, with less distance but far more work in changing altitude, going up and down about 6000 feet.
Barranco camp was deep in a valley and felt steep in that none of it was level. This would be true of most camps at this point. It overlooked the valley where Arusha and Moshi were, and that night, the cloud layer disappeared and we could see the lights of the two towns perfectly. It was very cool to see considering that the valley was always shrouded in cloud by day.
Another change was that we were finding more hikers at the camps were staying at we neared the base camp. Several routes join at Lava Tower and we could see there were a half dozen other groups (mostly small) that were now on the same route as us. I am sure that in seasons when there was no COVID it would have been quite crowded. Weather continued to be miraculously cloudless and dry.
Day 5 and 6:
|wind at Barafu Camp|
I honestly cannot say how I got through it. Climbing endlessly in total darkness (with a headlamp only) is surreal. I know Buddhists are fascinated with 'living in the moment' but if you want to really experience living in a perpetual, relentless 'present' with no awareness of past or future, just trudge up a steep slope behind the lighted boots of a leader, for hours on end. You lose all sense of time. I hummed the Taize song "Within our darkest night, you kindle the fire that never dies away" endlessly. Rebecca reported feeling that there was no reason not to take the next step, but there was no sense of when that would end.
|Inside the crater|
|snow on the crater rim|
Within the next 15 minutes we arrived at Stella Point, about 6:20am. Stella Point is not the summit, but it does open onto the lip of the crater, so you are on top of the mountain, but not the highest point. It is considered to be 'summitting' as you are able to look onto the shallow crater at the top. But along one side of the crater is a ridge that rises several hundred more feet where Uhuru Peak is. The true summit of the mountain.
We stayed a few minutes and took pictures. The cold and thin air does not make this an inviting place to hang out, or have a meal. Getting down is also a challenge as the descent path is even steeper than the ascent. Fortunately Vuvuzela held Rebecca by the elbow to keep her from slipping down the snow, and then the miles of scree (small volcanic stones) back to base camp. What we won slowly in 7 hours we descended in less than 3. You can almost ski down the scree, and descending feels much easier, especially as the increase in oxygen is palpable with each foot you go down.
|Descending looking toward Mawenzi peak|
|Barafu camp from above|
The last day was no less grueling than any of the others. We still had to descend about 14 kilometers to the Mweka gate where our daladala was waiting. It turned out to be the worst day for Rebecca as the descent was steep and sometimes treacherous. When we went back through the rain forest this time, it had recently rained and we walked for miles in thick, slippery mud. Our boots were caked. Worse for Rebecca were her boots that for some reason did not protect her toes during the descent. At the bottom, when she took her shoes off there were multiple enormous blisters on every toe, some almost entirely engulfing the toe. So it was harder to enjoy the beauties of the cloud forest on the way down.
One real blessing for us was being able to speak Kiswahili. It is very unusual that tourists sumitting can speak to guides, the cooks, and porters in their native language. We got to know all of their names and learned a lot. Charles drew most of his team from Arusha where he is from, in an area called Ilboro. Like us, they go to a Lutheran church there, and we have actually been to the Lutheran Cathedral in Ilboro where they pray.
|Charles our guide|
I remain amazed by the paradox of what is a very expensive safari, in which you pay big bucks to freeze, trudge, and then do what feels like a forced march up a hill in total darkness. And at the same time, at the beginning and end of each day, be treated like a King served delicious hot food and drink before and after the grueling activities of the day.
Hopefully this account will give others some idea of what such an adventure is like, and a way to preserve the memory for us.
We are now down to our last 2 weeks in Tanzania and have one more mountain to climb--packing and selling all of the stuff in our house and getting our family to Addis by July 1st.
|Kibo from the Mweka path|
|Farewell to our team|