Question: How many conference calls with your BFF does it take to book a trip to Tanzania, Africa and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro (especially when your family and friends are worried about the risk of Ebola and suggesting you not go)?
Answer: Four. One for us to discuss pro’s and con’s of the trip. The second to learn about travel insurance from the travel agency. The third to go over follow-up questions about travel insurance. The final, fourth call to finally book the trip, and begin preparing for “wheels up” go time.
If nothing else is true about me, let it be known that when I commit to something I am ALL IN. And let me tell you, I am ALL IN when it comes to my Missing Stamps list.
The number one item on that list is to visit Tanzania and climb Kilimanjaro, or “Kili” as it’s affectionately referred to. While it’s been stuck in the number one spot for a while, it is not for lacking of planning. I have been reading up on gear, training, and had long-standing plans to make the trip several times—the latest being this year. But, life happens, and the trip had to be postponed.
A month ago, in the midst of the Ebola outbreak (but before all the media hypochondria) the Yooner (for new readers, this is my BFF and travel buddy), decided it was a now-of-never kind of moment. We officially booked the trip for early 2015.
Of course after we told friends and family that we’d finally decided to pull the trigger, reactions ranged from, the more casual “What?” to the more direct “Are you <expletive deleted> nuts!?” The common question about why involved one question. What about Ebola?”
As of this publication, Mr Os has gone the way of New York and New Jersey, and declared that I will have to quarantine myself for 21 days upon my return. Where is yet unclear. And, mind you, Tanzania is nowhere near Nigeria or Sierra Leone.
Also, consider that Tanzania has not had a single case of the virus. Certainly, things could change between now and March regarding the crisis. But as of now, I don’t buy into the fear mongering and think this succinctly sums up my risk of catching Ebola.
Instead, I’m focusing my energy on the things that actually matter: gear and training. I’m starting an inventory this week to assess what equipment and clothing I already have from previous treks, and what I will need. It’s better to accumulate equipment and clothing over time. Not only can you watch for sales, it helps avoid the last-minute crunch of buying crap you don’t need. And importantly, if you collect gear over a few months, you have plenty of time to break it in and get used to it—that’s especially important with hiking boots. It’s even more important for longer-term hikes.
Candidly what I am a bit worried about is physically preparing. I injured my knee riding in the Trek Across Maine this summer; who knew you could over train? I’ve been sidelined from any cardio workouts beyond a simple walk for two months. It’s driving me a bit nuts. I’m still hitting weights at the gym and physical therapy is starting to have an impact. But, having asthma, I know reaching the summit (and, heck yeah, I WILL summit Kilimanjaro) will come down to training. So, I’m anxious for clearance to start doing more strenuous exercise. Wish me luck! And if you have suggestions, I’m all ears!