Monday, January 30, 2012

And so it ends. For now.

Call me crazy, but I went into work the next day. Thankfully, I had blocked off my morning for paperwork, so I didn't have to be totally alert until 1pm. All four of my scheduled clients showed in the afternoon, so I spoke with them and then went home and crashed.

Right before I crashed on my couch though I went through my mail pile...

Bills, bills and more bills!
looked at my cool new certificate...

and dreamed of my next great adventure! Where do you all think I should go? I've already gotten recommendations for Iceland to see the Northern Lights, Argentina to climb Aconcagua, and the Great Barrier Reef to dive among the marine life. Write any and all recommendations in the comments section below; all are welcome.

So here ends my story. Well, this particular Kilimanjaro story. It has been a fun ride, and I look forward to having you all on my next great adventure. Remember that there is nothing stopping you from achieving your dreams but you.

All my best!

Peace and many blessings,
♥ K.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Back in the U.S. of A.

My father graciously met me at JFK. It was good to see him again. We took a car service over to LGA--a much better alternative to the bus or shuttle I had previously looked at.

While at LGA I brushed my teeth (it had been way too long) and ate some "American" food (Au Bon Pain). I proudly showed my father my climbing certificate and regaled him with stories from the climb.

After we said our good-bye's and I went through security, I called my mother. She was happy to hear from me. I regaled her with some stories. ☺

My flight to CLE was delayed a bit, but I wasn't too upset; I was just happy to be back in the States.

Here's my final journal entry concerning this grand trip:

"December 15th, 2011

Dear Journal,

It is 11:14pm. I am home. In Wooster. I am tired. I am sore. I would be hungry, but I made P stop at Wendy's for me. Now I feel gross.

I'm downloading my photos/videos. 597 of them. They made it!

Welcome to America, little one!

♥, K"


We arrived in Amsterdam just before 7am. As I had a six-hour layover, I decided to leave the airport and explore the city. In my pre-trip research, I had learned that there is a train which goes from the airport to the city square. That would do.

Well, I found the train. Phew!

I couldn't believe how dark it was outside.

The train had an interesting interior.

Amsterdam Centraal Train Station
 When I stepped outside, I quickly learned two things: it was still dark, and it was FREEZING! I decided to walk around and see the sites. This was the first photo-worthy "site" I came upon; it just made me laugh:

In honor of my father, Jim.
It didn't take long before I was almost run over by ten bicyclists. I also smelled marijuana within 10 minutes of exiting the Centraal Train Station. Ahh, Amsterdam.

While walking, I was searching. Searching for coffee cafes. Sadly, a number of the cafes weren't open yet.

I finally came upon a cozy cafe which was open and had a cute barista. I encountered one problem though: they didn't take credit cards and I didn't have any Euros. Dave, the owner and barista, gave me instructions to a nearby ATM. Either he was lying about its location or I'm bad at following instructions, as I never found the ATM. I stumbled around for 20 cold minutes, searching for an ATM or an open currency exchange place. I finally found an exchange place. After obtaining some Euros, I tried to find my way back to Dave's place.

I finally found it. Phew. Dave looked surprised to see me; I think he thought that I wasn't coming back.

Dave made me a lovely cappuccino, complete with a heart design and a smooth compliment:

The view from my perch:

I stayed in this cafe for a number of hours, observing and chatting away. When customers would leave, Dave and I would chat about Amsterdam and his relationship woes. Why is it that I always get into therapy sessions when I meet someone?

Dave, the big boss

Vaarwel, Dave and coffee connection!

As I walked back toward the centraal train station, I took some more photos:

The parking garage to the right is filled with bicycles!

Bikes, bikes, and more bikes

Inside the Centraal Station

Sadly, American fast food chains are everywhere.

Waiting for my train back to the airport.

Train tracks galore!

Inside the train

Back at the Schiphol airport...

These flat escalators are pretty sweet.

The Schiphol airport is quite a nice airport

I was hoping to get some sleep on the second long flight; unfortunately, that didn't happen. You see, I was originally assigned a window seat. As it turned out, there was a family from Tanzania who was in the row in front of me. Due to whatever reason, the father had been assigned the middle seat in my row. There was an elderly Dutch woman-Fleur-sitting in the aisle seat in the family's row (she had been assigned that seat). The father asked to switch with her, but she refused to take the middle seat. 

Deciding to be a nice person, I offered to take the middle seat in my row; Fleur could then have my aisle seat and the father could sit with his family. After we had departed and the seat belt signs had been turned off, we played musical chairs. I sat in the middle seat. Although I told Fleur that I was tired and that I was going to sleep, she kept on talking to me. When she wasn't talking to me, she was telling me and the aisle seat occupant that she had to get up and either use the rest room or walk around (she supposedly had some illness which required her to walk around at least four times during the flight? I don't know). Needless to say, I was glad when the flight finally landed.

On a positive note, it was the Tanzanian family's sons' first time in the United States. As soon as we had landed and the seat belt signs had been turned off, I said to the son, "Welcome to America!" He smiled. I had just spent two weeks in his country, feeling welcomed. I was happy and pleased to return the favor.

Last Day In Africa- Night

I was fairly quiet on the way to the airport, taking note of my final thoughts and feelings. I was sad when we arrived at the airport.

I made sure to get this photo of Herman and I before heading inside. Herman: thank you for EVERYTHING! You were an awesome guide, and I am so fortunate to have met you. Mingi Karama.

Walking back toward the big plane...

Looking back at the Kilimanjaro International Airport. Bye bye!

I quickly became tired of seeing this lady's face staring back at me from all the seats:

Yet again, we were arriving in Amsterdam at the buttcrack of dawn:

Last Day in Africa- Afternoon

Back at the lodge, it was time to order some food; I was hungry. While I waited for my lunch, I took some random photos:

Yes, I ate this entire pizza!

My lunch companion
After eating so much for lunch, it was time to relax and digest by the pool. I had a good view of my blisters from my chaise lounge:

My face had also seen better days (and this was with wearing 70 SPF every day):

Back in my bungalow, they had decorated the bed with nice flowers:

Mt. Meru
As night approached, I hesitantly packed my belongings and prepared myself for the long trip back. It was tough saying good-bye to the lodge's staff members. Irene, one of the front desk receptionists, stated, "We will miss you." Timothy walked me back to my bungalow to help with my bags. As we walked back, he stated, "I will miss you" and grabbed my hand. I was kind of surprised, but I didn't want to be mean and just throw his hand aside, so I just held his hand until we got to my bungalow. Luckily he didn't try to kiss me or anything. THAT would have been awkward.

After more good-byes and hugs, Herman packed my bags into the truck and we took off.

Kwaheri Arusha and Mt. Meru!