Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fried Chicken at 14,000 ft

I am standing under a small patch of shade on a hot dusty two-lane road waiting to flag down a van going south. There aren't any vehicles in sight, just people walking and riding at least two-to-a-bike. There's unmistakeably African music pumping out of one of the concrete buildings on my left. There are some guys under a bamboo structure grilling meat on a stick, and kids are all running to and from the school around the corner. No doubt about it, I'm finally in Africa. Malawi, to be precise, which seems only to have one main road running north to south. It's easy enough to find a ride because anyone who owns a car here is running a taxi service...or at least that's what it seems like.

5 days in Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar, 9 days around and on Kilimanjaro, 2 days on the road south into Malawi. It's been a wild trip already and I've got weeks to come. I've already taken a dip in the Indian Ocean, watched sunrise from over 19,000 feet above sea level, and spent over 35 hours on various buses. In keeping with my usual format, there are some musings of the Kilimanjaro expedition and subsequent adventures below.

  • The Lion King is actually useful research before coming to East Africa. People honestly say "Hakuna Matata" (no worries) and "rafiki" is Swahili for "friend."
  • Our Kili trip employed 35 porters, cooks, and guides for 10 hikers. We could hardly believe it took that many, but after our first meal of epic proportions we understood a little better. Especially on day 3 when we lunched at 4300 meters above sea level and they fed us fried chicken. It wasn't the best fried chicken I've ever had, but it was still fried 14,000 feet above sea level.
  • Our hiking group eventually used the law of averages to get any sort of understanding on what we were doing/where we were going/how long it'd take to get there. We had two guides, each with a different answer each time you'd ask. English isn't their first language and you can tell.
  • We went on a pretty basic trip - luxurious for backpacker standards but cheaper than many other outfits. At first we wondered what that extra $1,000 got you, and then we realized at the second campsite that it gets you your own group outhouse instead of sharing with all the other hikers and porters. Nice I suppose, but really a grand for an outhouse??
  • I am sure that all the trekking companies summit Kili at sunrise so you don't know what you're getting yourself into as you walk up. Coming down in the daylight it seemed far steeper than I remembered staggering up in the dark...
  • Everyone knows the word "yes" but not necessarily the words in your question. I have learned it best to not ask yes/no questions because you'll get an answer, but not necessarily the truthful one.
I'm in Malawi for another 10 days and then over to Zambia to meet the rest of the Munfords in Livingstone, where Sister is working. What a life...

Sunset on Zanzibar

Sunset at Shira Cave Campground elev. 3,800 meters above sea level

Sunrise hits Kili at camp on day 5

Sister and Me at the top of Kilimanjaro!


  1. These are such wonderful scenes. Congratulation for your trip. You should had enjoyed very well. Eating fried chicken at high place is could be your memorable moments.

  2. Wow..... this one is really the great information post about your trip. And the existing pictures of this post really makes me crazy about it. And this one is really one of the inspiring post for me. And I am really planning to my next vacation to there.