Saturday, January 17, 2009

The beautiful view from our room.
The Indian Ocean.

More of our backyard.

Testing the water.

(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

Another great Mozambican sunset.

Mid-Service Training took place during the past week, commemorating one year of service and fifteen months in Mozambique. Peace Corps spoiled us by providing lodging at the beautiful Cordosa hotel. There, we were treated to three meals a day, luxurious showers, and the most beautiful rooms I have seen in Mozambique. After arduous morning and afternoon meetings, we enjoyed more pool time and longs naps. The fiery sunset was an appropriate ending to a wonderful week catching up with volunteers and enjoying many of the comforts I remember from the western world.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The journey to the Mt. Kilimanjaro was intimate.

And, full of games.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

That I failed terribly at.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

We enjoyed a pool and luxurious living in Chimoio.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

I was overjoyed to be swimming.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

We dirty danced.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

We reenacted the "Creation of Adam."
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

Then, rolled on.

We crossed the Zambezi River.

Sooner than others would.

And, we got bike taxis in Quilimane.

I think they enjoyed carting us around.

Especially with our huge backpacks on.

We trucked from Nicoadala to the Malawi border.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

We were a bit cooped up.

Malawi's way of saying "welcome."

A beautiful moth in Blantyre, Malawi.

Lake Malawi.

The green hills of Malawi, near Livingstonia.

A packed mini-bus in Tanzania.

Chase was thrilled to be in Mbeya, Tanzania.

The bus stop in Moshi at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

This is where Ali, Jimmy, and I slept in Moshi.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

Ali oozing Depo-Provera.

A Tanzanian making flip-flops out of tires.

Two Zanzibar Pizzas.

Colorful beans from Tanzania.

Chase and a stern man in vegetarian restaurant.

The pretty, rainbow words mean "beer this way."

Mt. Kilimanjaro.

The Chosenbicans at the gate of the Machame Route.

I was overconfident the first day.
(Photo by Paul Larkin)

In a beautiful jungle, at a comfortable altitude.

The boys resting.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

Our first camp.

Our first meal on the mountain.

Our first early morning.

We had a beautiful sunrise and good weather.

The Chosenbicans aka Team Charlie-horse.

Ali and me enjoying a short break.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

Our indestructible crew.

Fearless adventurer, daring fashion enthusiast.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

Getting some of my camel pack from my tent buddy.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

An exhausted self.
(Photo by Chase Nye)

A beautiful view from day two.

In case one wants to shower in the freezing cold.

Chase and a bird looking for something.

Me, looking for warmth in a cave.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

Showing Chase that he is not the only one who can climb.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

A bunch of blueberry magicians.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

There must be some good analogy for this.
(Photo by Paul Larkin)

Our second camp.

The mountain from our third camp.

The land became more and more barren after the first day.

And eventually the weather turned.

A haggard self.
(Photo by Hans Goertz)

A chipper Hans, enjoying my suffering.

Our fourth camp, before the summit.

Sunset before the summit.

A teary-eyed self, overwhelmed and exhausted.
(Photo by Valeance Mjuj)

The most sublime setting I have ever bared witness too.

Sunrise on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

A delirious, sitting self.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

The valley below the summit.

Valance and myself on the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
(Photo by Thades Michael)

A withered, weathered crew.
(Photo by Valance)

Tent buddies.
(Photo by Valance)

A victorious self.
(Photo by Valance)

Relaxing with rummy.
(Photo by Chase Nye)

Christmas Pancakes.

Christmas Fruit Salad.

Christmas Potatoes.

More Christmas Potatoes.

Christmas Banana Topping.

Our Christmas Dinner.

My beard in it's entirety.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

A brutal barber.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

I needed a gentler touch.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

I considered a goatee.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

And, a mustache.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

The final result.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

New Year's Eve Dinner in Nkata Bay, Malawi.

New Year's Love.
(Photo by Hans Goertz)

The sacred waterfall in Gorongosa, Mozambique.
(Photo by Ali P. Gross)

A general store on the Malawi/Mozambique border.

Welcome to my adventure packed holiday! As you can see, I have been making the most out of my vacation from school and traveling throughout southern/eastern Africa. We began our trip in a mini-bus to Chimoio when Chase, Paul, Ali and I met with Hans at our good friend Alfredo Gonçalves house. Alfredo was nice enough to let us stay in his gorgeous home, where we took advantage of his pool and hot showers. After Chi-town, we took another bus north to Quilimane and Nicoadala to pick up Jimmy. Once again we were treated to comfortable beds and showers by Mark and his wonderful Canadian family. The next day we were crossing the Mozambique/Malawi border and headed towards Blantyre, where we pitched our tents for the night. Our next bus began in the evening and arrived in Mbeya around dusk the next day. We stayed at a dingy hostel for a couple days then took yet another bus to Dar Es Salaam on the coast of Tanzania. We spent one, ridiculously hot night in Dar then got on the first bus to Moshi at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro. After spending several days talking with guides and negotiating, we decided to sign with the Kessy Brothers who promised to safely take us up the Machame Route to Mt. Kilimanjaro. After 6 days of long hikes, exhaustion, forcing myself to eat all the food I could, headaches, rain, sleet, sun, and tears, we had reached and returned from the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Afterwards, our exhausted crew decided to take some time to rest in Moshi, where we hung out until the 26th of December. We spent another hot night in Dar Es Salaam and then a night at the Tanzania/Malawi border at what appeared to be the back of a hardware store. We reached Nkata Bay in Malawi on the 28th where we decided to give ourselves one final vacation. We spend the next four days swimming in Lake Malawi, Africa's third largest fresh water lake (the 10th largest in the world). On the first day of the new year, we scrambled out of Nkata Bay and headed for Lilongwe, Malawi's capital where Malawi's finest, aka the Malawi Peace Corps Volunteers, played host for us at their very own transit house. Though we would have liked to stay and get to know our peers better, we had to get a move on. So, the next day we rushed off to the border. Luckily, we got a ride from an amazing Mozambican man who took us all the way to Tete City, a city who's heat is rivaled only by Dar Es Salaam. One day was enough for us, so we headed back to Alfredo's in Chimoio then to Gorongosa to see Jared and Tara Shambaugh. Tara's parents were there, so, we went to the waterfalls and had a picnic. Despite having suffered from a fever since the new year began, I got up early with Hans and Chase and took a mini-bus to Inchope. From there, we hitchhiked all the way to Han's new site Inhassoro. We met up with some other volunteers there and did a bit of swimming in the Indian Ocean and, after two nights, I headed back to Massinga with Cameron to end our incredible journey through the north of the south. This next week I will be attending conferences and our Mid-Service Training in Maputo. It is incredible that I am all ready over half way through my service. It has been a stellar experience that has flown by at warp speed. I can only hope that the second half will be as awe-inspiring.