DAY 6 fini

11 africans to drag 3 wazungu up the mountain:


permanent brain damage.
hmm. well, hard to tell. Julia says John asked her if i was "acting weird" up at the top and she thought- 'she was just acting like Chrissy.'

after they managed to drag me to the Barafu camp, i was allowed to rest for a moment while we packed up the campsite. julia and i burst into tears. why? don't really know. we were exhausted and -in truth- once my brain began to work, it was quite frightening to recall how easily i could've stayed up top in a frozen slumber. we shoved our things in our bags and continued on a terribly long descent all the way to Mweka camp, at only 10204 ft/3102 m. 5 days of climbing up to descend almost the whole way in one day. that was a freaking long day. 11:30pm to 12am to 7pm with barely a half hour rest. my brain "recovered" rather quickly, though my nausea stayed with me for quite a while. wrenching off my boots, i found both my big toenails were already filled with blood and the toenails are surely kufa (dead)- the result of being dragged instead of running appropriately down the scree. but as juls said, better toenails than half a brain. exhausted, i found it hard to sleep and for the first time had to creep my way to the latrine in the pitch dark.

our last day on the mountain was a relatively brief walk through incredibly muddy rain forest down to the Mweka gate. a record is kept by Tanzania of everyone that has climbed, their highest point, and their guide. you are issued a certificate if you reach any of the 3 highest points of kili. this certificate is extremely important and the first thing asked after by the locals- the certified proof of your climb: did you get your certificate? let me see it. you must bring it.

the proof of uhuru:
i was surprised as we descended to come across so many that did not make it. those that quit days ahead, those that made Barafu but did not even attempt the ascent, those forced back part way to Stella, or those who only gazed at Uhuru from a distance and returned.

why did i make it-twisted ankles, frozen extremities, sick, with bleeding feet? as Stanely said to John "Your Son [meaning me] is very strong." I guess so.

The question for me was never to turn back. I was never obviously sick, like juls and john. my nausea, my weakness, and eventually my brain, were all internal. i remembered something i believe Robin told me once or had me read- the effort to complain, or even grimace is better put to the struggle. and though it was slow, much slower than many, and though it nearly killed me, i made it.

Can i hold on to the metaphor of the mountain? it is impossible not to see the implications of it in my own life. simply jogging, i am reminded- how can i quit now, this is not as hard as Kili, not as cold or hot, i can breathe, i am not empty. but of course even further the comparison is unavoidable. i am an actress- unemployed for quite a while, frustrated and more often depressed by my comparative successes to my friends and colleagues and family.

i see around me what i have sacrificed, the relationships, the security. but am i yet empty? and even when i have given everything, does that mean my feet stop? do i turn back, beaten, or do i go on? reaching my highest peak, battered physically, mentally, and perhaps only half brained, but reaching it some day all the same...

better words than mine: Matthew Parris covered his trip up kilimanjaro for The Spectator.

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