The Middle Of Nowhere # 12- 2019 Kili Initiative.

The younger members of the 2019 Kili Initiative team were exhausted from the slog up Lolopange and were happy to depart from the thorny slopes of the arid hill. I asked the group, “What would rather do? Climb Lolopange or spend a night in jail?”

“Jail,” they answered as one and we all laughed at their losing the way to the summit, but now they were experts at avoiding the barbed thorns.

The sky was clear and the sun was hot. The team drank water and the guide JM said, “Better to carry it in you than on you.”

Everyone nodded at his wisdom. They came from the cities, but two days on the trail had given them a fast education about hiking. I hit a fast pace and told JM, “I want to go ahead to take pictures.”

“I will go with you. Our destination is only an hours away.”

None of us walked alone, for while the grazing lands weren’t wilderness, wild animals owned it and my only weapon was a long Maasai walking stick and my unwashed body.

Kilimanjaro came into view.

We saw no people and at the valley’s crest I turned to find the team. JM pointed them out.

“They are about thirty minutes behind us. We’ll meet them at the next village.”

JM was a good man. He didn’t need to speak and neither did I, as we tramped along the trails.

Civilization existed only a dirt road passing through croplands to the south of the highest mountain in Africa. The wind was the only sound and not a single plane flew overhead.

“I know it doesn’t look much, but people have been living here for thousands of years. Smiling villagers greeted us with ‘jambo’. I hadn’t seen a house in an hour and asked, “Where are they going?”

“Cattle need land. Houses are far apart. Maasai aren’t scared of walking,” answered JM without losing a step and pointed to the ground. “But everyone is scared of lions.”

The paw print was huge.

“There aren’t many attacks, but there are some every year.”

This was the Tsavo Plains.

Over a hundred years ago two male lions killed over thirty villagers and Indian railroad workers.

I was supposed to be watching over the Kili Initiative trekkers. I searched the valley and listened for a savage roar. My ears only picked the wind.

“Not to worry. That print is old. We will meet everyone at the school, where we spend the night.”

Both of us spread our gait and didn’t stop till we reached the remote school.

The Kili Initiative team wasn’t at the school. The tuk-tuk driver had set up the camp. Thirty minutes later the hikers tramped into camp no worse for the wear.

They were happy to shuck their packs.

Vanessa sat down and said fearfully, “I saw lion tracks.”

“Me too, but Im more hungry than scared.”

Vanessa, Maureen, and Ubah.

Jackman, Larry, Steve, and sausages.

We ate sausages twice a day.

After Jackman and Nathalia played cards.

The school’s students observed us from at a distance. I gave them the leftovers. They were happy.

The sun set early. We were on the equator.

I listened to the night.

I heard no savage roar.

Near or far.

A fire blazed before the tents.

“I wish we had John Moran with us,” said Laikyn about the Kili Initiative trekker from this region. The young Maasai warrior had killed a lion with a fifty-meter toss spear at the age of 20.

“Lions don’t like people,” said Ma’we.

“Yes, we smell bad and taste worse.” I thought it was why we dominated the planet.

“Someone is certainly smelling bad,” added Ubah.

“Funny, I don’t smell dirty,” I countered with the classic Van Halen line from I’M HOT FOR TEACHER.

“Yes, you do,” the squad laughed and I joined their laughter.

We were together. We were safe. We were in the middle of nowhere.

Someplace in Africa.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *