Tuesday, January 09, 2007

"My Christmas Vacation: Version the Good" or "Acclimatization, Schmacclimatization"

I spent Christmas on the Indian Ocean. I went snorkeling, cliff jumped, and swam a short underwater tunnel between tidal pools. I met a new Peace Corps guy that will live in Busia, an Ethiopian that's as American as you can get without ever having been there, an officer in the Indian army on a UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, a Pole that has ridden his motorcycle around the world seven times and supports himself with his photography, and a whole gang of cool people that we called the "Bizarro Christian versions of us" because they run a church-sponsored NGO similar to ours just across the border in Jinja, Uganda . I camped on the edge of a beautiful 4000-foot drop off in the Usambara mountains. I started climbing Kilimanjaro at noon on the 31st of December. I reached the lip of the summit crater 28 hours later. I convinced my guide that post-holing was not as difficult as he thought it would be, started breaking trail towards the real summit, and reached it one hour later, the first to summit via our route in several days. I was back at the entrance gate 21 hours later. I visited two beaches near Dar es Salaam, both with real waves. I played with blowfish, sea cucumbers, sea snails, hermit crabs, starfish, urchins, and other coral-inhabiting things. I rode bikes and walked around rural Busia. I argued loudly about philosophy with my best friend. I read Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter, Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, Rory Stuart's The Places In Between, and most of Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent and Asne Seierstad's The Bookseller of Kabul.

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