Monday, March 7, 2011

Dave != Mountain Climber

Today’s diversion was a quick jaunt up the 2nd largest mountain in Africa and the largest in Kenya – the aptly named Mount Kenya. The six of us who opted out of the weekend in Mombasa, geared up at 7 AM and loaded into what may have been the rickiest excuse for Kenyan transport ever conceived. If it were a building, it would have been condemned. Our hour-plus commute to the gate of Mount Kenya National Park included what we’ve come to refer to as the “African Massage”, namely the laborious journey over poorly maintained infrastructure in vehicles notable not only for their complete lack of shock absorbers but the deafening din that their apparently loosely coupled parts make while ambling down the rocky roads.
We set off with a modest goal of making it to the first base camp, since we had a day to spend on the mountain instead of the five days necessary to summit. The vistas were gorgeous, but after an hour and as the incline increased, doubts began to set in.
Been there. Climbed that.

By hour two, I was left with two questions: Mah Rabu Maasecha Hashem? and What The Hell Was I Thinking? My feet hurt, the dust off the mountain was choking me, the sun was beating down even though the climate was temperate, and the path seemed interminable. But no one suggested we quit, and on we trudged until we made it up to Met’s Camp at 10,000 feet and immediately collapsed. An accomplishment, but not enough to justify me taking up a new hobby. Our hikemate John is heading immediately to Kilimanjaro after our CSC assignment to attempt to summit it in 5 days. Good luck, kemosabe, I’ll be stateside with my feet in Epsom salts in solidarity.
The way back down was much easier and more leisurely, which allowed us to enjoy the views, birdsong and flowers.
Back at the gate, the DeathMobile threatened not to start up until the driver fiddled with EXPOSED WIRES underneath the dashboard, took out the battery and shook it, and had our guide physically push our Matatu Minus out of its parking space. Being in a different seat on the way home, I was able to identify the literal hole in the floor through which I could see the road whizzing by beneath us. On the way home, we were tempted to recommend turning on the air conditioner to see if the engine would immediately catch fire.
We will be very, very sore in the morning, but at least we’re not the latest traffic statistics.
Supposedly, a crew from CNBC is arriving in the morning to chat with us, so I decided to hit the barber to see about reducing the extent of my Jewfro. I was unceremoniously declined as soon as I entered as the hairdresser said “I can cut hair, but I cannot cut your hair. It is very complicated.” Sigh.


  1. Heh... just have him take the guard off the clippers and buzz it :)

  2. 1. Exposed wires? I have those under my desk in the Ambassador's office in the U.S. Embassy Kin.

    2. You got to climb the 2nd largest mountain in Africa and you'll get to sail and if you're brave enough swim in the 2nd largest river in Africa. :-)

    3. We can get you to David, the Lebanese barber at the 'kosher' department store next Friday right when you get off the plane. He cuts Rabbi Bentolila's hair so knows from Jewfros...