Clinic Stories

Mount Kilimanjaro (Part III)

We spent another three days in Tanzania after the climb. The first two days were at National Parks on safari. The parks are beautiful and loaded with animals – zebras, giraffes, elephants, wildebeests, impalas, water buffalo, lions, hyena, jackals, mongooses, hippos, rhinoceroses, baboons and birds of many kinds.

The third day was also supposed to be a safari but a bridge was washed out and we were unable to reach the park. The only way around was a ten hour drive over dirt roads. Instead we waited four hours for the army to bring a scoop shovel and push enough gravel into the breach for the smaller vehicles to cross. The crowds cheered as each vehicle made it across. Since we were flying out in the evening, if the bridge was not repaired in time the plan was to get another driver to come to the far side of the bridge and we were to walk across the stream and meet him.

Once through we toured the town of Arusha and went to some market places. The better ones were open stands by mud puddles and trash heaps. The worst ones were so destitute I did not want to take pictures for fear that I would make people angry. Tanzania is a very poor country with a corrupt government. Police stops with “fines” imposed are constant. Despite their poverty the people are kind, friendly and hard working.

Many expect the climb to be beautiful. It was not. We were above treeline most of the time and staring at rocks. Litter is abundant on the mountain. The parks, on the other hand, are not only seductively picturesque but the experience is most genuine – Masai tribesman, cattle and goat herders, mud huts, oxen carts, people carrying theirs wares on their head, few cars. It looks like a National Geographic theme park.

I was finally reunited with my luggage at the airport two hours before departure. I was able to change my clothes for the first time in two weeks and rechecked my bag. On arrival back in the US I learned that once again, my bag was lost. It made it home two and a half days behind me. I would have been better off not to pack at all.

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