Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cleaned more dishes. E-mailed my best girl friends with plane-related questions. Called the Tanzanian embassy (not much help; the guy didn't understand why there would be a different visa form on another website). Got two more passport photos taken for the visa application. Contacted KLM to see how many checked pieces of luggage I can bring. Solidified my transportation to/from CLE. Mailed my rent check. Withdrew money from my checking account. Ate a PB and J sandwich. Washed my trekking poles. Laundered my carry on bag. Tried on my birthday present (a cool hat. thx R!). Spoke with my father. Spoke with my mother. Made tea. Took my first malaria pill. Spoke with 8 more clients...

Am getting sleepy but must continue...

In my tired deliriousness I'm taking on the role of mountain climber. Yes, those are the famed glacier glasses. Finally! :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


My day:

7:20am: Get out of bed
7:30am: Drive to Burger King for breakfast and get Value Meal #2
7:55am: Arrive at work
8:00-8:30: Have a meeting with my clinical supervisor about the meeting we're about to have
8:35-10:00: Have an intense, argumentative meeting with 8 other people about one of my clients (who is apparently one of the ten most difficult clients out of the 3000 we serve)
10:01-11:00: Counseling session (40something year-old female)
11:00-12:00: Counseling session (30something year-old female)
12:00-1:00: Counseling session (27 year-old male)
1:00-2:00: Counseling session (14 year-old female)
2:00-2:45: Diagnostic assessment for 11 year-old female
2:45-3:00: Eat lunch I brought from home
3:00-4:15: Counseling session (30 year-old female)
4:15-5:00: Group Supervision
5:00-6:00: Counseling session (42 year-old male)
6:15-7:00: Drive 53 miles to Appalachian Outfitters while having a telephone session with my executive coach
7:00-7:15: Call A.O. because I am lost
7:15-7:30: Shop for a sleeping pad, another pair of trekking socks and pick up my glacier glasses (FINALLY!)
7:30-8:15: Drive toward home (another 53 miles) while returning a call to a friend. Stop for McDonalds on the way. God, I'm healthy.
8:15-9:00: Stop at Wal-Mart to purchase waterproofing spray for my hiking boots, a sleeping pad (they were too expensive at A.O.) and a box of cereal.

It is now 10:13pm. I have another load of laundry in the wash. I still have 7 progress notes to do from yesterday. It's time for ice cream. A big bowl.

Peace out!

Monday, November 28, 2011

La la la

Three loads of laundry completed. Contact from Arusha contacted. Popcorn popped and eaten. SD cards checked. Visa application printed (although this has caused additional confusion. Must contact The Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania tomorrow).

Headlamp working? Check.

Hiking boots? Check (although they need to be waterproofed). Warm socks? Check.

Aren't I just one stylish girl?

Cluck cluck

I'm a freaking chicken running around with my head cut off! My heartbeat has been at a steady increased rate since I returned home last night. THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO!!!!! and of course I keep adding to my list. I guess I can run hard until Friday and then collapse on the planes.

I've cleaned a 1/3rd of my dishes, but bowls and cups keeping turning up in every corner! I currently have a load of laundry running but still have new clothes to wash. I obtained the password for my small computer but it won't let me install Picasa (the wi-fi works though. Phew!). I tackled two items on my "work list." I installed a new ink cartridge in my printer. I've got two potential transportation options for Friday but neither of them are solid. Progress is progress, I guess, no matter how large or small.

Now it's off to the races-in other words, my kitchen! Get ready dishes, here I come.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I am home. I had a really great time in Florida; there is something special about female bonding time. In fact, I started to get teary when saying goodbye to my mother and my mother's puppy. Why does it seem to get harder the older I get?

It is my sadness in leaving family that makes me wonder if I could do a stint abroad. I have frequently wondered about my future plans and moving is definitely in that plan. As it stands now, I am contemplating three different locations: Cleveland, Chicago or abroad. If I were to go abroad, I'd only want to go for 10 months to a year. Then again, I wonder if I'd even be able to "handle" that. I mean, I could "handle" it, but I feel as if I would miss out on a lot. I suppose my ideal situation is to live in Cleveland or Chicago but to have a job which requires me to travel to cool places 20 to 40% of the year. Since my senior year of college, I have wanted to become a host on Globe Trekker. I have actually applied for the show, but like all reality shows, it requires a lot of luck and good timing.

I am sure that things will work out how they are supposed to; they always do.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Let the countdown begin!

At this time next week I will be in Africa! Hooray! I am both excited and nervous.

My mother gave me an early birthday present today: Fifty Places to Hike Before You Die by Chris Santella. Much to my happiness, Mt. Kilimanjaro is one of the fifty. In the description of the hike, the author states, "One makes the climb for the satisfaction of conquering one of the Seven Summits (a sobriquet for the tallest peaks on each continent)." Although that is definitely a reason-although selfish in nature-I am climbing for a number of additional reasons: I enjoy hiking/climbing mountains, I love the communion with nature, I love Africa, and I love accomplishing personal goals.

Speaking of goals, I have at least 12 things to do before I start my journey abroad:

1. Clean my dishes
2. Turn down my house's temperature before I leave
3. Pay my bills
4. Buy those darn glacier glasses (Florida was useless in this regard)
5. Check my mini personal computer to see if the wi-fi works
6. Organize my carry-on bag (how should I occupy my time for 16 hours? any advice would be appreciated)
7. Change my voice mail message at work
8. Pack EVERYTHING and remember my passport!
9. Get money (travelers checks?)
10. Look into altitude meds
11. Contact my PCP to reschedule my appointment
12. Find a kind soul who is willing to drive me to CLE and then pick me up from CLE upon my return

I've already placed my mail on hold. Good job, Kate.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Dear Mom and Dad...

Okay, so my mother learned yesterday that it's going to be me with 12 men on this excursion. Needless to say, she has become EXTREMELY NERVOUS. She started singing to me tonight, "Stop, in the name of love..." Although I am not a parent, I can empathize with my parents' anxiety. Here are a few thoughts, Mom and Dad, to try and assuage your fear:

1. I will e-mail you as soon as I can once I get to my lodge in Arusha

2. My climbing team would be extremely stupid to fuck with a female, white American (sorry, but it's the truth). Not only would I raise hell in Tanzania and in the U.S. but I would put all of them out of work and destroy Allan's business.

3. At 6' ft tall and 31 years-of-age, I am probably both taller and older than most of the members on my climbing team. I will beat them up if they mess with me. :)

4.  Finally, I e-mailed Allan about this very issue and here was his response:

You should not be concern being a sole woman climber, your guide and the rest of the team are great guys and we have done a lot of sole trips like yours, so please do not worry at all. You will have fun and it will be a memorable trip for you.

I also learned today that Allan will not be on my climb; my guide is apparently "Herman." I kindly asked Allan to send me a photo of Herman, as Herman is not featured on their website under "Guides." Allan sent me a picture of he and Herman and some random, white chica. I think that he sent me that photo on purpose in order to assuage my fear. Regardless, in the photo below, Allan "the boss" is the one in the middle. Herman is the guy on the right. Let's give three cheers to Herman! See you soon, Hermy dear.

Dear Florida

I feel like a stranger in a strange land, and I'm not even in Africa yet! All it took was a trip to the local Sports Authority to feel like a stranger. I asked the first sales clerk if they sold "glacier glasses;" he gave me a confused look and asked, "Is that a brand?" He showed me both the regular sunglasses section and the swim goggle aisle and tried to sell me on a pair that had neoprene or something on the inside of the arms. I examined the glasses and acted as if they might work (they weren't even close) but quickly placed them back on the shelf as soon as he left.

Realizing that I wasn't going to have any luck with the glasses, I asked a saleslady if she had any polypro pants or specialized pants for climbing/hiking/colder weather. She looked at me as if I was the dumbest person on earth and said, "I'm a Florida girl." In other words, "I'm from a state where the average daily temperature is between 70 and 85 degrees. Do I really look like the type of person who would know anything about cold weather clothes?" (Or climbing, for that matter. The tallest natural point in FL is 345 ft high). Needless to say, it was off to another store.

At Dillards I found a pair of black, Dri-Fit leggings, but I still wanted a pair of climbing pants where you can zip off the bottom halves and turn them into shorts. A nice saleslady in the Women's section stated that they didn't have any more in stock, so my mom and I traveled over to the Men's section to see if they had any. This is the conversation that ensued:
Saleslady: Hi. Can I help you?
Mom: Yes, we are looking for those pants which can turn into shorts
Saleslady: (After looking at my mom and I for a few seconds...) You know you're in the Men's Department
My mom and I: I know
*Awkward pause where we all look at eachother*
Me: I like to wear men's clothes

Hahahahaha. After I said this, the saleslady looked at me like I was nuts. I should have really tripped her up by speaking in a deep voice. My mother and I left the store, leaving a trail of laughter behind.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Happy Thanksgiving! I have just returned from a fun Thanksgiving dinner with my mother and am ready to switch into comfortable clothes, sit down in front of the boob tube and digest.

I didn't have any brilliant ideas for my blog entry today, so I just asked my mother what to say. Her response:
"My little pills made it to Florida. I hope they work."

Well said, mother. I agree.

Here's wishing everyone a thankful and blessed spirit. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011


ARGH! So I finally get home from work tonight around 9:45pm. I check my calendar and "things to do" list before I leave for FL tomorrow. It's only when I see my Saturday note, "TYPHOID PILL," that I realize I have a problem. My typhoid medication needs to be refrigerated at all times. I'm leaving for FL tomorrow. ON A PLANE. How did I not foresee this problem? Per the little information sheet that came with my typhoid medication, "Your health care provider should inform you of the benefits and risks of the vaccine, the importance of taking all 4 capsules in the correct schedule, and the importance of proper storage temperature of the capsules." I need to take one capsule every other day. Tomorrow morning will be my second capsule. How should I handle the remaining two? Keep them here in my refridgerator and screw up the required schedule or take them on the plane with me and screw up the required storage temperature? What is it with me and typhoid pills!?!

I first turned to Google for advice. I typed in "Emergency medication question." The first result was a website entitled, "" It looked promising. I typed in my situation. A doctor was waiting to help me, but I had to shove over $55 first! No way Jose, I know how you guys work. I then turned to a friend of mine who was on google chat; he stated that I should "Buy something cold on the other side of security." That could work, but what happens during the hour drive to the airport and the two hour drive from the airport to my mother's house? Keep on finding cold things to place next to my medicine? I finally spoke with another friend of mine who is an anesthesiologist; he said that I should still take it with me, despite the temperature difference. Well, I guess that's what I'll have to do. I'll also have to do this on the way back from FL to OH because I take my last capsule on Monday and I fly back on Sunday. My typhoid pills are becoming quite the little travelers!

On a totally unrelated but better note, Allan sent me this e-mail today:
On the 4th after the briefing you should come to my village, we will walk around and also explore Arusha. I have never been to SA but I want to go one of these days.

Score! I love village walks :)

Happy Thanksgiving Eve everyone.
Peace out.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

and the e-mails continue...

All the transport is done by us .  Your host in Tanzania is African Outdoor Expeditions, we will pick you up when you arrive and we will drop you when you leave the country. Don’t worry about the late check in, they already know because KLM arrive late.

We are all excited to have you in Tanzania, welcome


A little paradise in Arusha

I am quite excited because I just received confirmation for my stay at Moivaro Lodge in Tanzania. I will be staying at Moivaro Lodge on 12/3 and 12/4 and 12/12 and 12/13. This place looks pretty sweet. Check out the website. I guess I will be experiencing the best of both worlds (utter simplicity and African extravagance).

Allan e-mailed me this today:

Why don't you consider going on a short safari on the 13th, to see animals and stay at Oldeani Safari Lodge (my lodge see attached) on that night instead of moivaro, and on the 14th we will drive back to Arusha for a day room and transfer to JRO for your flight out!

I real think it is worth for you to see animals while your in Africa"

This is what I e-mailed back:

 "Hi Allan-

Thank you for your recommendation. Although your lodge looks lovely, I am going to decline for one reason: I have already seen a number of African animals. You see, my mother is South African, and I have already been to South Africa twice and Kenya once (the Kenyan trip was a 17-day safari).

I'm excited to explore the town of Arusha!"

I have spent the past day connecting with friends of friends. Some of these friends have spent time in Arusha or have friends who live/d in Arusha. I'm hoping that one of them can be my tour guide while I'm there, if only for a few hours!

All is calm

Allan, my tour leader, is going to think I'm nuts; I e-mail him with questions all the time. In the course of writing the last entry I e-mailed him regarding my concern about the anniversary climb. I received a response in 25 minutes (it helps that it's Monday morning there). Here is what he wrote:

You do not have to be concern about anniversary climb , we will have our camps."

Okay, I guess that's good to know. It's now off to bed as my overdrive has become underdrive.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Oh Man

So keeping in this "overdrive" spirit, I just spent some time looking for an answer to my last question (can I use a check or can I only use cash to pay for my visa?). Well, as luck would have it, I just learned that 200 other climbers will be joining me on my trip!

You see, Tanzania is celebrating their 50th Independence Anniversary on December 9, 2011. "The Tanzania Tourist Board in collaboration with Tanzania National Parks and Zara Tanzania Adventures is organizing a grand Kilimanjaro expedition comprising of 200 climbers from all corners of the world to mark the golden anniversary of Tanzania mainland’s independence.  The climbers will use four different routes to scale the mountain and they will all finally meet at Uhuru Peak on the eve of celebrating the Independence Day, December, 9, 2011."

I don't know whether to be upset or happy. One of the routes that the celebrators are taking is the route that I will be on. We apparently leave on the same day. This could be fun or a total nightmare; I guess it all depends on my outlook. I find it funny that my trip coincides with an important independence anniversary as I took a trip to Mexico City last year during their 200th Independence Anniversary. Proof is below.

So if I were to view this trip/independence anniversary connection as a "sign," what "sign" would it be? That I enjoy being a part of other people's happiness? That I like big crowds? That I am really proud of countries that gain independence? Whatever the meaning, I think I'll make it a trend. 2012 marks the Golden Jubilee of Samoan Independence. As it states on Samoa's Tourism website: "Come help us celebrate this important moment in Samoa's history." Well thank you, I think I will.


Yes, it's official: I am now in overdrive. My anxiety and excitement have reached a high and it will probably only increase from this point on. How do I know that I am in overdrive? Well, my caffeine consumption has increased to 2 cups per day, I'm listening to house music at 10:45pm, I'm writing "Things to do" lists while driving, and I steam cleaned my rugs this morning. This is NOT normal behavior. I feel bad for my clients because I am occasionally drifting off into "African land" and thinking about the things I need to do before I leave. Odds and ends are slowly getting resolved though:

1. The "nurse" at the Wayne County Health Department called me back and said that I need to start my typhoid medication at least 2 weeks before I leave. Well I hate to tell ya sweetie but the two week mark was last Friday. Why do I always seem to have bad luck with these typhoid pills? (see my entry "I Hope You Like Needles"). Secondly, this lady said that I need to take the malaria pills for every day that I'm under 1,500ft. What didn't you understand lady when I told you that I'm starting in Arusha, an elevation of 1,400 M, and am only going up from that point on? If I bought these malaria pills for nothing I'm going to be pissed; every saved dollar counts!

2. I have now had three New Yorkers tell me that I can't make it to the city for lunch between my arrival at LGA and my departure from JFK. Lame lame lame. I don't want to believe them, but I really don't want to miss my flight to Africa. Luckily, my father has graciously offered to have lunch with me at JFK. Now at first this would seem kind of depressing, having only fast food chains from which to choose, but much to my delight, I learned that Terminal 5 at JFK is a "culinary juggernaut," offering a brasserie, a tapas joint and yakitori. Score! To make me even more excited, I read this description on "Just imagine: nine full-serve restaurants, bars and cafes; a gourmet food hall with eight quick-serve eateries; gourmet markets/grab-and-go; three coffee bars; six bars/lounges; and an innovative gate area program, dubbed “re:vive” that offers table service dining! What's more, passengers in the gate area will have the opportunity to “revive” by accessing touch-screen monitors to order meals that will be delivered directly to their tables. The following properties—and over 200 different wines by the glass—await you." Sign me up! Who wants to join my father and I at a fine dining establishment? You all are welcome!

3. I learned that I can pay for my Visa in USD rather than TZS. Now the question is whether they will take a traveler's cheque or just cold, hard cash.

Peace out.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'm so not a Girly-Girl

Today was shopping day. Shopping Day actually started last night when I was telling my father that I need to find clothes made out of some "p-word"....propylene, Propofol, prolene....he had no idea what I was talking about so I gave up and went to bed.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Last night I went on a "night hike;" I felt that it would help me in my preparation for the climb. Obviously there were some differences between last night's hike and the climb I'm about to embark on:

1. Elevation Change: Last night's elevation change-300ft. The Kili climb's elevation change-10,340ft.

2. Group Members: There were approximately 15 people last night, 50% female, 50% male. My African climb is just me with my own "team." Per Allan, his "team" is comprised of 12 men. This should be fun.

3. Length: Last night's climb was 3.3 miles and took me an hour and a half to complete. The Kili climb covers approximately 33 miles and will take me eight days.

4. View: It was dark last night, but I was able to see the silhouettes of trees and some stars. On the Kili climb (Shira route) I will see rainforests, alpine zones, glaciers and a World Heritage Site (the Shira Plateau). Hooray!

Shopping Time!

The equipment you need to bring is:

  • day pack (used for carrying water, extra clothing, etc.) or
  • back pack (if you prefer to carry your own personal gear)
  • sleeping bag/stuff sack (should be rated +15 or warmer)
  • sleeping pad
  • duffel bag w/ lock (for storing non-climbing gear while on the climb)
  • large plastic bags (sleeping bag will be bagged for protection from potential rain)

  • toiletries (enough for your entire trip)
  • sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher)
  • flashlight or headlamp (we will NOT be hiking at night, but this may come in handy)
  • towelettes
  • face towel (for washing up in camp)
  • personal first aid kit
  • two one-quart, wide-mouthed plastic bottles
  • water treatment tablets

  • gloves (a pair of medium wool or polypro)
  • outer shells (a waterproof pair to go over your mittens)
  • polypro cap or balaclava
  • cap or hat (for shade)
  • glacier glasses

  • polypro or wool tops (mixture of light, medium or heavyweight for layering)
  • polypro or wool bottoms (mixture of light and heavy for layering)
  • rain pants (waterproof nylon or Goretex)
  • parka (waterproof nylon or Goretex)
  • poncho (protection for yourself and your day-pack)

  • thin socks (polypro for wearing under thicker socks)
  • thick socks (we recommend Thor-lo)
  • leather hiking boots (plastic Mountaineering boots are not necessary)
  • gaiters (high or low to keep the dirt and snow out of your boots)


  • water flavoring (powdered)
  • tennis shoes (to wear in camp)
  • ski poles (highly recommended for the descent!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Oh Lord...

it has been another pb and fluff night. I have just spent the past two hours flipping between,,, and to find a flipping CLE to JFK round-trip flight that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and is non-stop and fits within my time frame. Unfortunately, there isn't such a thing. And yes, it took me two hours to realize this. And yes, I am kind of leaving this to the last minute as I begin the JFK to Amsterdam leg in T-two weeks.

Delta and American both have non-stops from CLE to JFK, but the times don't work; they either arrive too late or depart too early. Continental has accurate times, but they don't have a non-stop (which actually boggles my mind as they have thousands of non-stops from CLE to LGA). There's always the "Multiple Carrier" route, but who wants to go on AA and SW from JFK to CHI to CLE (in other words, who wants to join multiple air carries travel 1029 miles versus a simple 425 miles)?

I finally decided to travel in and out of LGA. An easy Continental flight on 12/2 will get me to NYC around 12:30pm. If I'm lucky, I will enjoy a nice pre-plane lunch with a friend or family member. Then it's off to JFK and Amsterdam and Kilimanjaro.

It's getting back which will be a bit more tricky. I arrive in JFK but will need to get my rear to LGA. Thankfully I decided to relax the connection and have approximately three hours to get from one airport to the other. A cab ride costs approximately $50, but I'd rather not spend this money. Perhaps I'll be so tired though that I'll just say, "Cabbie, take me away!"  I did some brief research on alternative transportation options, and there's this bus that looks pretty cool and cheap, but the airport to airport route did not exist when I went to the website. Okay, that makes a lot of sense. It's false advertising, ya hear! Perhaps I'll hitchhike; I could probably use the walk after a 7.5 hour flight.

It is now 11:00pm and I'm going to bed. Folks in Arusha are beginning to wake. Jambo Tanzanians!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Relationship Check

Ha, this has nothing to do with my climb or Africa; I just want to see if you're reading my entries. But no, I have to voice how messed up is. I signed up for this past summer. I was on it for approximately three months. After I cancelled my membership, I hid my profile. You can imagine how surprised I was today when I received four "You caught his attention!" e-mails, two "Someone emailed you" e-mails and five "Wink alerts." They have to be false. I mean, I haven't received any e-mails in three this? No way. It would be nice, but nah. Even if they were true, they aren't even men that I am interested in (e.g. already has three kids, lives in China and/or "can't drive" for some unknown, unlisted reason). Perhaps I'll fall in love with one of my Tanzanian porters.

Medication Check

I won my own bet; the typhoid medication wasn't covered by my insurance. It's a DQ Blizzard for me! As the typhoid medication needs to be refrigerated, I sped home after picking up my meds; I felt like a frantic husband driving his pregnant wife to the hospital after her water breaks. Don't ask.

I spy with my little eye something that's orange and white:

Geography Check

Where in the world is Tanzania? Three gold stars if you got it right.

Time Check

Saa ngapi in Arusha, Tanzania?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


My debit card is working again. Hooray! No more blockage. I did warn Allan, the travel company's boss, that my wire transfer was going to be a bit delayed. He replied, "No worries K, you can always bring cash with you when you come." Really? Is that normal? What if I showed up without the money? Would I be stuck in Tanzania? That is not an adventure I'm willing to try. (*Although my mother did tell me upon hearing my trip news: "this is FANTASTIC!!! will hopefully never come home.....and I mean this in a good way!!!!!)

In other news, I dropped off my typhoid and malaria pill prescriptions at my local pharmacy. No questions were asked; in truth, I was kind of disappointed that they didn't ask me any questions e.g. "Ooo, cool, where are you going?" It's not like everyone asks for malaria and typhoid pills, right? My local pharmacy specializes in anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. My pharmacy does have to "order" the pills as they don't have them just lying around; they should be in tomorrow though. Per the pharmacist, my insurance covers one of the medications but not the other. I don't know which one my insurance covers. Care to take any bets? Malaria...typhoid...malaria...typhoid. I'll bet on the typhoid (that it's not covered). 

p.s- I don't know what's going on with my font size, but I'm done trying to figure it out; my ice cream calls.

Monday, November 14, 2011

All was looking good...

Yes, all was looking good around 1:00pm today; I spoke with a live person in the security branch of my bank. This person who shall not be named said that he was working on my case and to try my purchase again in 10 minutes. Per this nameless soul, if the purchase still didn't work, I was to call him back on his direct line. Well, in approximately 12 minutes time I excitedly typed in all of my information on the KLM website. Did it work? NO. I was not a happy camper. I contacted the bank employee but got his answering machine; I left a voice mail message, requesting a call back.

The afternoon passed. Every single time I got a break in clients I would try the purchase again. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. My irritation slowly turned into anger as the hours passed. (Note to self: If I had another debit/credit card, this would not have become an issue in the first place). To demonstrate how many times I tried to purchase these airline tickets, KLM finally sent me a lovely pop-up message which said that I had tried to buy too many times with the same e-mail address and to contact a service centre. ROAR!

Around 6:40pm tonight I IMed my friend:
Me: i am so frustrated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
now i can't book because i have tried too many times
why won't my card work!!!!
My friend:  Rawr
Me: no, it's needs to be capitalized. RAWR!
I need ice cream, but I don't have any money because my card won't fucking work!

As you all can see, I was a little frustrated. And I somehow thought that ice cream would solve all of my problems.

Alas, it was not ice cream but my father who came to my rescue. After venting to him, he kindly stated that I could use his card and then pay him back. My mother actually offered the same. God bless their souls.

Armed with my old-school, 8th grade, AOL e-mail address and my father's credit card information, I gave the purchase another shot. You cannot imagine my sigh of relief when the screen finally said, "Purchase Confirmed." Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! A God exists! 

I leave JFK on 12/2/11, arriving at Kilimanjaro International Airport on 12/3/11. I have a nice little stop in Amsterdam.

Now I have to book the flights to/from CLE and JFK. Let's take bets on how long this will take.

When being safe is NOT helpful

ROAR! So there are TWO tickets left on KLM at this particular "low" price. I go to buy the tickets but the lovely little website says that my credit card information is incorrect and that it won't process my request. I review my information three times and realize, "No computer, you are wrong, my information is correct!" I call the folks at Mastercard who tell me that there is "suspect fraud" on my card. Great. I mean, it makes sense, but come on, I need these tickets! A lady transfers me over to the fraud department where a fatigued woman tells me that their system is down and that she can't help me at this time. LAME!

KLM has this option where for $20 you can reserve the current stated price on your chosen flights. That would be a great option and all if my credit card WORKED! But noooo, the lovely folks at my bank and at MC have shut off my card; no entry allowed. Come on folks, work with me here. Please. I don't consider myself a religious person, but I am currently sending up two prayers: 1. that no one buys the last two tickets at the current "low" price and that the bank's computer system gets up and running ASAP!

And just to increase my anxiety, my work supervisor called me and texted me this morning stating, "Hi. Need to speak with you. Can you come in a half hour early today as we have no opportunity during the day?" On her phone message she stated that something has come up with a family that we both work with. I'm having torturous thoughts that a child committed suicide or something. Needless to say, I have had an "interesting" start to my day...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

All is well

The exterminator arrived. The furnace got replaced. And the little doggies snuggled with me. All is well.

I just watched the IMAX film Kilimajaro: To the Roof of Africa and have a renewed sense of excitement about this trip. I'm excited to traverse five different climate zones ranging from the equatorial rainforest to the North Pole. I'm excited to test both my physical and mental strength. I'm excited to interact with a different culture. I'm excited to learn some Swahili words. And I'm excited to just be in Africa. Hooray!

I received two prescription slips in the mail yesterday; one for typhoid pills and one for malaria pills. I guess the doctor decided that I need the malaria pills. Well, I guess it's better to be safe than sorry. Thank the lord that I can now swallow pills. I wonder if my local pharmacy carries these particular drugs...this will be fun.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

This is just preparing me for Africa, right?

Last night's journal entry will explain my lack of an 11/11/11 posting. Enjoy.

"Dear Journal,

My god, I live in a freakin' hovel. Let's see what happened tonight: there have been four dead mice (2 brought out from my friend, one brought out by the dogs I'm dog-sitting (accompanied by me screaming and disposing of it) and one that still remains for the exterminator tomorrow). The house continues to smell like dead carcasses and rodent traps. I'm sure I'm poisoning myself and dying a slow death. J (my friend's husband) kindly offered to come over tonight and check out my heat. Per J, an HVAC contractor, the furnace's blower motor is broken. Hence, I'm not receiving any heat (save for the little bit that gravitates up when the furnace tries to kick on). He just turned off the entire system though. I pray to God that my landlord fixes-has it fixed-by J tomorrow. It's cold when relying on one space heater. I plugged in 2 space heaters, but the circuit blew. Twice. I hope the little dogs and I don't freeze to death. (It's currently 34 degrees outside).

Of course when I walked the dogs for their night pee their leashes got super tangled. ARGH! I come inside, only to find that one of the dogs has shat underneath the table. So now I have carpets which have been blessed with dead rotten carcasses and shit.

I haven't showered since Monday and it's now Friday. I also haven't worked out. Good luck climbing Kili. My diet hasn't been the best. For dinner on Tuesday I had a baked potato. On Wednesday I had tater tots with cheese and ketchup. On Thursday I had another baked potato. On Friday (tonight) I had asparagus and a cookie. My parents would not be proud.

I'm also PMSing- what a joy. The exterminator rescheduled for tomorrow, 8am to 9am. On a Saturday. She better show. If she don't, I'm going to flip a fucking lid.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's the small things...

I wired the rest of my money today. All I need now are my flights, a super fit body and some climbing gear and I'm good to go. ;)

I received an envelope from the Department of State today; my first thought was, "Hey, a job offer!"Although it was not a job offer, it was the next best thing: my old passport! I don't know if this is a new thing, but if I had known that they were going to send me back my old passport, I wouldn't have photocopied all of its pages last week at work! (I also wouldn't have spent $60 purposely "loosing" my old, old passport just so that I could save it). You can call me a hoarder, although I prefer to be called a sentimentalist soul.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Some fun facts about Mt. Kilimanjaro

I figure I should educate myself a bit.

1. Mount Kilimanjaro stretches 5,895 meters into the sky, making it the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. It’s also the highest point in Africa.

2. Mount Kilimanjaro is actually a massive stratovolcano that was formed by repeated lava flow. It has three volcanic cones, two of which are extinct. The third cone, Kibo, is the highest point on the mountain and is dormant.

3. There are six distinct ecological systems on the mountain: cultivated land, rainforest, heath, moorland, alpine desert and finally the arctic summit.

4. Coffee is grown on the lower slopes and is a major export.

5. A porter from the first successful summit lived to see the centennial of that climb. At the time of the anniversary he was 118 years-old.

6. Johannes Rebmann, a German missionary, is credited with discovering Mount Kilimanjaro in 1848. He explored the lower slopes and sent the Royal Geographical Society his findings, including a description of a snow-capped summit. Experts at the time doubted the possibility of a snow-capped mountain located
near the equator.

7. The snow caps are rapidly diminishing, having lost over 80 per cent of its mass since 1912, likely due to climate change. They could be entirely gone by 2020.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I am dead tired today, but I am happy. At 12:01pm I received this brief message:

"Dear Kate  the funds were credited into our accounts thanks."

Hooray! Now I can send more money!

Journal Musings

"Dear Journal,

It's 4:38am. I'm tired but I can't sleep. I'm starving, but I don't want to get out of bed. My Tdap arm is not feeling so hot right now. The nurse had told me to move my arm around in order to decrease the pain. I'm now doing mini arm circles in my bed. I look like a one-armed swimmer.

Random thoughts about the climb keep coming up. When is that damn transfer going to arrive? I'm going to contact the International Department today. Then I was thinking about the composition of my climbing group. At the moment, it is just me. I really don't want to be the only one on the trip. I mean, I get along with guys better than I do girls, but me-a single girl-climbing a mountain with at least five males? (guide, porter, cook, assistant lead). Sounds sketchy to me. Pain pain go away come again another day. If you don't I will care, I'll throw out my underwear.

Why the freak can't I sleep!? My Tdap arm is not swelling and red, so I'm not having an allergic reaction. I am hungry. What types of foods do they recommend eating when you can't sleep? Warm milk? I do need to use the bathroom.

And here I was concerned about only getting 6 hours of sleep...


I Hope You Like Needles

An additional cost of traveling to Africa? Vaccinations. I visited my local travel clinic today for my consult and required shots and pills. The CDC recommends at least seven vaccinations: MMR, Tdap, Hep A, Hep B, Typhoid, Polio, and Rabies. Yellow Fever is required but only if traveling from a country with risk of YFV transmission and at least one year of age or older. Thanks to my dutiful parents, I already had my MMR, Hep A, Hep B and Polio vaccinations. Thanks to my semester abroad in Nepal, I already had my Rabies vaccination (as well as my Japanese Encephalitis shots). :) What was left? An updated DPT, Typhoid and Malaria pills. 

Monday, November 7, 2011


Sing with me now: where o' where has K's money gone, o where o where can it be??? The rest of my money is due at the end of this week. Should I send it or should I wait until this first transfer goes through?

Today's positive: my passport arrived! My photo is nothing to look at, but there is enough pomp and circumstance on the new passport to distract me from looking at it. One of the brochures that arrived with my passport states, "With Your U.S. Passport, the World is Yours!" Awesome! I love the sound of that :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I couldn't wait. I e-mailed Allan about the wire transfer. This was his response:

"Dear Kate,
Do not worry, today is Sunday and the banks were closed.  I will check with my bank in the morning and let you.  NO wire transfer is ever lost."

All I can say is thank goodness for a laid-back leader. I get along with those types ;)

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I received the following message at 6:32am this morning:

"We have finished processing your passport, and it has been printed.

You paid for overnight delivery. This means you should receive your passport on or about 11/09/2011."

Score! (but if I had known that they were going to process and create my passport this quickly, I wouldn't have paid for expedited service!)

Now they say that it will arrive on or about 11/09/11. If they have the passport done today, why wouldn't I get my passport Monday or Tuesday? There's no federal holiday on Monday, right? Oh well, at least it's headed home to moi. :)


p.s- My boss approved my vacation days this past Tuesday. Phew. I love him.

Friday, November 4, 2011


So it has been 5 days since the bank wired my money to Tanzania. Allan, the owner of this trekking company told me that it takes about a week to get to Tanzania from the U.S. Per Allan, he will tell me when the funds show up in his account. I have not heard from Allan on this matter. Should I be worried?

As I write this entry, it is currently 4:30am on 11/5/2011 in Tanzania. Do banks receive wire transfers on Saturdays? Ugh, I don't want to wait until Monday to find out if my money got there. Let's do the worst case scenario situation: if my money doesn't get there, I will find out why. When I find out why, I'll fix it. If it turns out that Allan is a scam artist, then he's dumb to take my money and run at this point because I have more money to pay him!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Journal Musings

*This journal entry was written the day before I sent off my passport package.


"Dear Journal,

 Stress yet excitement continue. I'm going to send off my passport application tomorrow. I don't like the photo, but I'm not going to spend $8.00 getting another one taken. I wish I could use one of my own, but I think the dimensions are wrong on the potential ones. Oh well. Vanity is a sin. Or is it?

I set up the 30% wire transfer yesterday. The bank manager gave me a quizzical glance and asked, "And you know you can trust this person?" I guess it's wise to be smart about this ordeal. And yes, I believe I can trust this guy. He led David Breashears up the mountain- he can lead K.B., too! I just don't think this Wooster Branch Manager has ever sent a wire transfer/or set one up to Tanzania. I mean, I'm weird. I'd be shocked if there were other Tanzanian-bound Woosterians. I suppose I could always be pleasantly surprised.

The wire transfer fee is allegedly $40.00. Lame. Totally forgot about that cost. This trip is going to serve as my law school or med school; I'll be in debt for years.

The funny thing about all of this is that I haven't even asked for the time of off work! What if the boss says no? Total worst case scenario. But he shouldn't say no, as I have the vacation days. Happy 32nd b-day to me! If he doesn't let me go, screw him. I QUIT! Hehe."

Getting Legal

Ah yes, the glorified passport. Just to keep my procrastinator cred, I looked at the expiration date on my passport: December 4, 2011. GREAT! Tanzania requires that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the date of your entry. There was no skirting this issue; I had to renew. became my favorite website for approximately an hour. Was my last passport undamaged, issued when I was 16+ years old, issued within the last fifteen years and issued in my current name? Check, check, check and check. I felt so privileged to be able to use form DS-82.

Then there was the whole timing thing. Routine service was approximately 4 to 6 weeks. That wasn't going to work. Expedited service was 2-3 weeks, door-to-door. That would work. Of course I had to pay $60 extra dollars for the privilege. Lame. Then of course they recommend that you use overnight delivery there and back, so that was an extra $12.82. Bogus!

I sadly amassed all the requisite materials ('sadly' because I had to send back my passport, and I had a good photo and good stamps in that passport!). On Halloween (this past Monday), I visited my little town's post office and wished Bon Voyage to my package. I trust that it got there safely.

(Note: I just checked my application status online and it stated that it is currently being processed...whatever that means).

P.S.- It's a good thing that I can buy my Tanzanian visa in Tanzania. Per U.S. passport law, if my passport had been needed within 4 weeks to obtain the Tanzanian visa, I would have had to visit a Regional Passport Agency. Guess where the nearest Regional Passport Agency is located. Detroit, MI. A good ol' 174 miles from where I currently live.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Journal Musings


"Dream's becoming a reality. Spent the past 3 hours researching various travel companies. As one blogger put it, the search is 'paralyzing.' Which route? Lemosho? Shirai? Not Maranga. that's the Coca-Cola route. Do I care about fancy meals and my own throne? I want less people and beautiful sights. I was so involved I didn't eat dinner. Just had pb and marshmallow fluff sandwich. It's 11:47pm. What does a travel company's e-mail response tell me about the organization? Over-zealous? Doesn't pay attention to my questions? Lame. Hard to tell. Need money. Trip is expensive. When is the right time to climb? January? Risk December and risk rain? Ugh.

Didn't shower. Still need to shower. And progress notes. Two.

Drive to Chicago tomorrow.

♥, K.

p.s- Get someone to foot my bill. Newspaper? Magazine?

Need new passport! AH, PROCRASTINATION!
Zit on my face. bad passport photo?"

Step One

After deciding on my present, the first step was to choose an outfit to travel with; this was no easy feat, let me tell you. A cursory search on Google gave me 2,320,000 results. Ah, the paradox of choice. Luckily, I have been to Africa before, and I have a contact who is based in Kenya. A quick e-mail to him resulted in the name of one recommended company as well as the name of a fellow employee who climbed Kili five years ago.

My friend's co-worker gave me her recommendation. As she had climbed the mountain, she offered to speak with me over the phone about her experience; obviously I took her up on her offer. My main question to this kind woman was "How much does cost impact quality?" You see, I had researched trips that cost $1,500 and trips that cost $5,000. The only difference to me, at least on the surface, was that you got your own "throne" on the more expensive trips. My advice-giver stated that a focus on safety is important, as well as the number of guides on the trip. It all made sense. She recommended the outfit she went with, but she also went five years ago. I wondered if the outfit had changed during those years. Was I willing to take the chance?

And so we begin...

It's November 2nd, 2011. In exactly one month I will be on a plane headed to Africa; Tanzania, to be exact. My 32nd birthday is coming up, and as a present to myself, I decided to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Why climb Kilimanjaro? Well, it kind of kills two birds with one stone: I love to climb mountains, and I love Africa; hence, my present. I've been pondering this birthday present for awhile, although its really only begun to take shape in the last few weeks. I am nervous yet excited for this trip, and I can't wait to share it will all of you. Let the adventure begin!