Have been daydreaming of this hike since 2009, since I read an article in an Egyptian magazine about a 40 years old woman, who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, though she never had mountain hiking experience. I somehow had a “I wanna do it feeling” & thought that this is the kind of adventures that will give true meaning to my life.
But something was always keeping me away from fulfilling my dream, at first it was fitness, for God’s sake I am fat, not fit and my hiking experience is more or less zero, everyone around me whom I share with my thoughts, whether I receive rejection, disapproval, mockery or a very exciting “let’s do it” that when comes into action, all the excitement fades away, then lack of resources, I wanted to join a specialized agency, without getting ripped off, yet be sure that they are good, specialized and well organized, because such trips require people with experience, specially that the major concern about Mount Kilimanjaro is dealing with altitude sickness, that could be deadly as far as I know.
The dream kept seeming so far away, yet chasing me day and night. I’m still fat, not fit, the offer I got from a trusted company is too expensive compared to online prices, but my parents will never allow me to travel with any company, and if I join the climb with the trusted company I’ll have to save for a whole year and will not be able to join any other trips on that same year -which could be deadly to me.
One day, I was hiking for a couple of hours at Kleine Scheidegg in Switzerland, with 3 Swiss friends who were at their mid thirties whilst I was 25. They had to wait for me as I got tired very quickly, at first it was okay, I thought that maybe they are more acquainted to doing so much physical activities, a step following the other I felt like a “big fat pig” and thought to myself, “why am I doing this to myself? they are at least 10 years older than me, yet 10 times fitter than I am. Maybe you I do not train as much as they do, but I sure can do better, nothing can stop me but my laziness, and these foods that I enjoy so much, I have got to cut them all, I have to lose weight and become fit. This kind of tiredness is not acceptable anymore. Once I go back to Egypt, my one and only target will be losing weight and becoming fit.” And yeah that’s exactly what happened, I took it very serious, started training with a personal trainer, dieting, getting weekly fitness assessments and my body measured bi-weekly, till I was able to drop off 11 kgs and look completely different.
Days went by, this time only 2 things kept me from fulfilling my dream; having no people to go with at the moment, I had to wait till 2014 and it was still a 50:50 chance, and again no trusted company to travel with, but the insanely expensive one, not sure that climbing Mount Kili is worth not traveling for a year, it’s a tough call. One day I was bored at work, fed up from doing a job that I don’t like, started posting about this fact as a facebook status, an ex-law school colleague responded “you should work with my wife.”, sent him back but never received a reply. I started updating my resume, tailoring cover letters, decided to send my resume to several magazines & travel start-ups, on that same day I received a reply from one agency who thought that my resume was very impressive though I had zero experience in the field, but it seems that my cover letter did all the job -yeah I am a lawyer, my job is to convince people with whatever I have to say-, 2 days later they called for an interview, that was postponed a couple of days later, a week after I called them wondering why they did not reschedule the interview, they said that they have no vacancies, however they would like to refer me to another start-up after my approval, I agreed, received a call from this company, scheduled an interview, during the interview one of the partners told me “Hey, you know my husband, you went to college together.”, I asked her: “who’s your husband?.”, he turned out to be the same guy who told me that I should work with his wife. After the interview & after agreeing that I would do sales & feature them in my articles, she told me on a random note: “we are climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on Dec. 26th, 2013, wanna join?.” I was puzzled, yet not believing that climbing Mount Kili could arise in the most random unpredictable way. I replied: “I really don’t know, I have to check with my parents, to check my vacations balance, who else is joining? I need to think but yeah I wanna join. I’ll give you my final answer by end of this week”.
After looking forward to several approvals from my parents, my boss, my best friend that her religious marriage coincided with my travel dates, checking my bank account that had no enough funds -had to wait for my salary in order to pay the trip fees-, I said “YES. I’m gonna climb Mount Kili.” Hung up the phone, still in disbelief, not realizing that it’s truly happening, feeling a bit fishy about it, thinking that it cannot be real, been planning for 4 years, yet the opportunity has suddenly arisen, “Maktoub”. Wasn’t worried about my fitness level though I haven’t been training regularly lately, as I was in the “I am bored from the gym and diet” phase, yet I was not worried at all as I have been working out for a whole year, doing different types of exercises. And I read a lot about the hike which gave me a feeling of comfort, yet an anxiety that was due to altitude sickness issues.
Next thing I know from the moment I said “Ok, I’ll think about it” is reading and re-reading about the hike, watching videos about the climb, about packing, making lists, knowing all about altitude sickness and how it could be prevented, about sleeping bags, about guides, porters, cooks, about what we are about to see, how is it like over there?, the weather, the people. Kept sharing like crazy with the people I am travelling with every piece of info that I read. Started to do some shopping, borrowing some stuff. Even my backpack was packed and re-packed several times, especially after speaking to someone who did it before.
The pursuit of Mount Kilimanjaro now seemed so real, Africa’s highest peak is only a couple of days away…
to be continued…