Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Back in Moshi

We've spent the last two days in a village on the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro with the doctor that Mom is volunteering for. The little house we stayed in was bustling with people, mostly children from neighboring houses and a few Mama's. We were all dancing to the radio last night and it reminded me that kids here are just as silly as we always were (and are). The people in Tanzania are so, so friendly and beautiful. I watched my mom see a few patients, then a few of us went to a waterfall. The dirt roads wind up and down hills, and it felt great to walk around for a few hours. The forest is so lush and green, and with all the waterfalls, it feels like the Garden of Eden. We're seeing a side of Tanzania that tourists rarely see - our experiences at Gonja with the church services, getting traditional food served to us, staying in very rural villages up in the mountains, etc. It's wonderful - this country is beautiful and peaceful, and our time here is just flying by. My Swahili is slowly, but surely, getting better - I know a few key phrases now, but still can't hold a conversation.

I've been thinking a lot over the past few days about how health care is so needed in places like this, and maybe I should be a physician... but when a skinny dog showed up at dinner time and stuck his head in the door, wagging his tail and hoping for food, my heart when out to him, and all I could think about during dinner was how to sneak food to him (but the people we were staying with did feed him). I realized I really am meant to be a vet; no matter what kind of medical doctor I become, human or animal, I'll be saving lives and making a difference. And in a developing country like Tanzania, the health of your cow or your chickens can mean that your family gets proper nutrition, stays free of disease, and is able to sell the animal to buy your kids a pair of shoes or pay for them to go to school. People always assume veterinary medicine is all about the animals, but really, it's about serving the people who depend on those animals, too.

I've thus far survived the transportation system in Tanzania. Africa is notorious for bad road safety. We initially rode big buses, like Greyhound, which were pretty decent, although they drove too fast. In the last few days, we've started to use daladalas - mini-vans that they stuff full of 20 to 30 people. They seem to average 25, and by the end your limbs fall asleep and you really can't tell where you end and someone else begins. Quite an experience - and cheap, too. An hour or so ride costs about $1.50.

Now we're back in Moshi, at the foot of Kilimanjaro, and the clouds have cleared below the peak, above the peak.... but I still have yet to see Kibo, the top of the mountain. Hopefully I get to see it before I actually climb - it's hard to believe I'm really here when I can't see the mountain. Just a few clouds are between me and the mountain I've dreamed about for so long. Tomorrow, I meet with my guide and fellow climbers, and then on June 20th, I hit the trail! I should summit on the morning of June 27th if all goes well. Here's the route I'll be taking - 9 days total. Thoughts and prayers are appreciated as I try to reach the Roof of Africa!


Justin said...

have a great time!! I know you will and you will rock that mountain

Jim said...

Hi Britt - just wanted to wish you the best! Look forward to seeing pics of you at the summit. Make sure you have everyone do "GO GREEN, GO WHITE" at the top!! Don't forget, you still owe me a topic paper!! :)) Jim

jessica said...

i've had my fingers crossed for you for the past week, and i hope you reached the summit safely this morning! i am SO jealous; i wish i could be a little gnat just riding along on your backpack! i'll continue to keep my fingers crossed, and i -like jim- can't wait to see pics of you at the top! or ALL your pics, for that matter! guess i'd better get back to that topic paper (hahaha...ha..heh...ermmm....)
love & miss you!!!! *hugs*