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Kili: 1,800-3,000 meters

When we arrived at the gate, we had some time to wait as our group got registered for the hike and we awaited our turn to begin. The women preoccupied themselves with stretching, snacking, chatting and rearranging their packs. Anyone snacking was an easy target for monkeys. I'm not sure what type of money they were, but these average size, grey monkeys stalked the women with apples. After patiently waiting and walking around, one on the branch of a tree near the top of a sign and hopped

onto it. He the bolted down and grabbed an apple – quicker than a blink he was gone into the tree from where he had come and no where to be seen… but we could hear him crunching on it!

What a day to hike! Everyone is singing, our guides are teaching us about Tanzania and offering words of encouragement as we make our way to the base of an outstanding rain forest. I had never before properly ventured through a rain forest so to experience that environment in such a way was beautiful. Every so often there would be an opening in the immediate tree line allowing you the ability to see the depth of this rain forest. It was unfortunate not to capture any photos, but it lives on in my memory – maybe one day I will attempt to artistically represent the visual marvel.

The guides told us the first day was the most arduous because you are getting used to the slow pace and need to adjust to altitude this way. I did not find this to be the most difficult day. It was not even the most frustrating day, I was just absently drooling over our gorgeous surroundings; not too focused on any one thing. I did manage to speak to those around me, getting to know the paths those around me have tread. I mainly spoke with Jacky, a local woman on the trip and Aboo, one of our guides. We enjoyed lovely conversation that day and throughout the adventure.

We must have hiked more than I had anticipated that day, or all the elements of the climb had finally caught up to me or something because I recall being exhausted that night. If my memory is correct, we were greeted by all the porters and guides with songs and dancing and well wishes – they were celebrating our first day. It was wonderful and although it took me a moment, I got into the spirit of the night and happily danced with those around me. I also happily ate a lot of dinner and went to sleep.

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