Ten days ago, I was sitting in an early morning staff meeting when the school’s intercultural trip coordinator slipped in and whispered that he needed to talk to me outside. “Lillis, one of the 9th grade teachers has a lung infection and can’t go on the intercultural trip next week. We need you to help take the kids up Mt. Kenya.” I just looked at him for a second as the inner avalanche of questions tumbled through my mind: can I do it this soon? I don’t think I have the gear … warm hiking clothes, a pack, a sleeping bag … where will I get the stuff? I haven’t done any real exercise for over six months and I have to hike to 17,000 ft in four days? Who will take my elementary and middle school classes next week? From my lips, I heard: “Of course I’ll go. What do I need to do?”
On Monday this week I boarded a bus with three other teachers, a school doctor, and thirty-three 9th grade students. We left Nairobi at 7:30am and returned today (Friday) at 3pm. What happened in-between was one of the most physically and mentally challenging experiences of my life thus far. A short gloss of the trip would convey almost nothing meaningful of the experience. Rather than attempt a nutshell version, I’ve decided to spend a little time on the details. What follows is a day-by-day break down of the trip that will likely be spread over five posts. You may find the reading a little long, though hopefully not tedious. I’ve tried to include the best of the 217 pictures that I took.
Thanks for following along!