40 Meter Mad Dash – Marangu, Tanzania – 2019 Kili Initiative Team # 22

Tanzania was greener than Kenya.

The country has been ruled by socialists for decades.

The people looked the same, but I was the only M’zoongoo in sight.

I was blind to many things and blessed by an accepting ignorance.

None of the 2019 Kili Initiative Team were native to this country.

We were Kenyans and Americans.

We had come here to open our minds on the Maasai Plains and prepare our bodies to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

The Top of Africa.

The trees of Marangu blocked any view of the Great Mountain of Caravans.

We passed through the town. The market was busy. Bars operated on the right. Music blared from everywhere.

People were everywhere and Ma’we said, “You would never know it, but Marangu has a population of 30,000.”

“That’s the size of my old hometown.” Milton, Massachusetts had many trees too, but not as green as those in Marangu. “It used to have no bars.”

“No bars?” Such a thought was sacrilege to Ma’we, although he was an upstanding member of his church.

“A dry town from the Prohibition to the year 2000.”

“We will visit town later,” Ma’we said, respecting my research of beers around the world.

Five minutes laster we turned into the Marangu Hotel.

The courtyard was tidy and I was the first person off the bus. I ran to the WC. Travel was not good for my stomach and lower tract. I came out and the team were heading to their respective cabins. I received keys from the reception. Larry was outside standing next to a cut-out of Kobe Bryant.

“Kobe is my man.”

“He beat my Celtics in 2010.” I blamed the loss more on my friend AP coming into Frank’s Lounge at the 4th Quarter and asking what was the score.

“His name means something in Swahili.”

“I’ll find out,” I replied although I doubted turtle was in my phrasebook.

Two ladies led me to my cottage. I tipped the girls carrying my bags and laid on the bed.

I hadn’t been on a mattress in ten days.

It felt incredibly good and I searched for ‘Kobe’ in my phrasebook. I smiled and dropped into in ZZZ land within seconds.

I woke to the ringing of my cell phone. Tim Challen was calling from Geneva.

“Are you feeling okay?”

“Better,” I lied without shame.

“I’m at the airport, waiting for my flight. I’ll be there tomorrow to make sure you aren’t dying.”

“Hopefully I’ll be alive, otherwise feed me to the lions. There is no honor in being devoured by hyenas..”

“It won’t come to that, but lease stay away from any strange foods, especially goat stew.”

“I won’t even listen to any Rolling Stones’ songs from GOAT’S HEAD SOUP. I’m looking forward to seeing you.”

That was the truth. We were longtime friends.

I bathed in a hot shower and dressed in clean clothes, then wandered across the lawn to where Jackman, Ubah, and a young American boy were kicked a football. Soccer wasn’t my game and I walked to the bar. The door was shut until noon. It was

I was pleased to see the name.


I had rarely been a Pete, but was happy to think that later on I would be drinking there.

Jackman came over to ask, “You want to kick with us?”

“Football is not really my game. I’m more into basketball.”

“That is because he is a slow M’zee,” shouted Fast Steve from the distance.

“I am not slow, you Kobe.”

Jackman and Ubah laughed heartily and the young white boy asked, “What’s so funny?”

“Kobe is turtle in Swahili.”

“I am not turtle, M’zee.”

“Then let’s have a race. 40 meters.” I handed my phone to Larry, who looked hurt.

“Kobe’s no turtle.”

“You don’t have to tell me. He killed us in 2010.” I added nothing. I was no fan of Kobe. He had submarined Kendricks Perkins, tearing out his ACLs, plus he had snitched on Shaq. I turned to Fast Steve. You, me, and everyone else.”

“You really think you can beat me.”

“I bet $3 young M’zoongoo will beat you.” $3 was the price of a Guinness at Pete’s Bar. I took out my money. “Let’s go, Kobe.”

The Vegas odds on my winning this race were 1000 to 1, except we were in Marangu and not Vegas.

We lined up for the race. The football was the finish line.

Larry called out, “ready, set, go.”

The five of us leapt from the line.

Me less fast than the young’uns.

I feel behind with ease. My sixty-six year old legs was deaf to my fifteen year-old heart.

Jackman won the gold. Ubah took the silver. Youngblood grabbed the bronze.

Something was wrong with Fast Steve.

He pulled up lame.

I was fourth.

Jackman and I celebrated our victories.

The thrill of victory.

Fast Steve said it was fixed and challenged me to a Maasai warrior survival contest.

“Two days with nothing in the plains.”

“Not a problem, but I got to go.”

I had goat entail stew on my mind.

“Now you move fast,” shouted out Ubah.

“Faster than anyone. Faster than a kiss on the wind.”

And the wind blew hard on the saddle of Kilimanjaro.

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