Saturday, July 24, 2010


i have been back in Tunisia for a few days and i am still trying to find the words to described my trip. Africa is an amazing continent, is so unexpectedly beautiful. in our world we constantly try to find happiness by upgrading our lives, cars,jobs or fashion. in Calgary, every time i go out i am bombarded with things that i don’t have that i ought to. Africa is different, at least most of the countries here are. I am not going to romanticize it, people in Tanzania, work extremely hard for their money. Nadia wanted to know why people that are so poor can be so content. Having been born in a Mexico in poverty I could answer her question. is all relative, she was comparing her life to theirs, compared to her, they don’t have much but she is comparing apples to oranges, we all compare, i don’t remember growing up been aware of our limitations, it was only after i left and started to make money that i understood how much we lacked. in countries like Tanzania it could be a lot worse, instead of looking up, you are constantly looking down and feeling grateful. Why? growing up poor in Mexico, we were use to things never working out, when they did we were so happy and when they didn’t we didnt complained for long, after all that was more likely. In developed countries we expect and can demand that things work out, after all, that’s why we have democracy and pay high taxes.
Now i am not selling my things and giving it to charity, I don’t like to struggle unless i decide to do it. Tanzanians call it life we call it adventure. I think we have a lot to learn from each other. I am still learning to stand up and demand more without feeling like i am greedy, on the other hand, i doesn't take much for me to feel happy.

I guess you could say that growing up like Karl teaches you a lot about feeling grateful. I watch him struggle in Africa,trying to learn and adjust to his new surroundings, what makes me feel more sympathetic is that he hardly ever complains, he still asks to be independent, i would like to bubble wrap his environment but i am aware that i shouldn’t do it, he needs to learn to deal with adversity on his own. I sign him to play water polo at the resort we are staying in Hammamet, the other players had no idea that he has limited vision, he did OK for the majority but there were times when he passed the ball to the opposite team, why? they asked for it, they will yell pass and he simply did. His team members were not very understanding. Karl never complained even though i am sure it might be incredibly hard. My other son Hans struggles more emotionally than Karl and that is because he is use to doing well, things usually work out so when it doesn’t he doesn’t handle it well. As a mother of two very different children, i am constantly reminding Karl that is OK to demand more and Hans to be more grateful.

I learned a lot in Kilimanjaro, I feel very confident about choosing the toughest route. Climbing 1000 mt or 3000 ft a day is perfectly fine, i wasn’t taking onto consideration that I am very tired. the route that we choose was incredibly beautiful and isolated, we never run into anybody else until we merged with the normal Machame route.

Nadia and I were treated to an amazing experience, we had a crew of 9 guys all to ourselves, we thought it was a bit over the top but the government in Tanzania is now demanding that locals are hired, it was mandatory, it makes sense, tourism is one of the main sources of revenue, i was glad to find out that they are making sure that locals benefit.

we hiked for about 5 hours per day, by the time we arrived to camp, our crew already had our tents set up, on day one we lost one member of our crew, he had an incredible hard time keeping up, we later learned he was suffering from Malaria, unfortunately it affects a lot people in Africa, we later came across an other porter that was affected by malaria and needed our help.

Climbing Kilimanjaro was incredibly rewarding, the trail was incredible then we had outstanding meals. Nadia and I giggle like school girls, my best friend has always been strong and a fantastic climber, most of the time Azizi and her were ahead of me, i enjoy been alone, its usually my time to think or to simply unwind. it was also my decision to skip camp 3 and go directly to base camp, it seem crazy to sleep at a same altitude than we started not really having gain any altitude, instead we pushed for other 2 1/2 hrs to base camp. we arrived around 6pm had a quick supper and call it the night around 9:30pm, summit attempts are done at 1am. Nadia and I were suppose to be ready at 12:30am for tea. Azizi overslept so we ended up been one of the last to attempt the summit. By now I was feeling incredibly tired and I wasn’t sure anymore that going that fast to the top had been such a good idea.

I was a bit mad at myself, I knew i was not going to have fun for the last 9 hrs, but that didn’t matter, what matters is that I have to be careful, to not summit because of a decision like that will be terrible. Also just as we were getting ready to leave, i got a bit too close to Nadia as she was picking her pack and her poles sticking out of them and ended up with a black eye, Nadia felt terrible, i was angry at myself once more, at the last minute i decided against bringing crazy glue, i failed to see the point of bring it, lucky for me i didn’t end up bleeding. I have definitely been doing it for too long when all i can think that i much rather crazy glue an injury that to cancel a climb.

the next few hours, i had a hard go, i managed to catch up to the rest of the slow group, it must have been quite a sight, there we were walking so slow, I am sure that we resembled extras at a zombie movie, like a scene of the Night of the Living Dead. Nadia did amazing, she felt great and climb very well, I was glad, it would have been terrible if she had come all the way to climb and hate it.

When I saw her at the top, i broke down crying, partly because i was glad it was almost over and also because for the first time I had a somebody with me. Nadia and I have been friends for over 10 years and have supported each other through tough times as well as celebrated good ones.

I was glad to be back at camp, i am always nervous, i feel unable to relax until i have summit, after that i can go hard, i am not worry anymore, i feel that even if i push it doesn’t matter. You are not suppose to spend the night at base camp, and that might be the reason why you are suppose to attempt your summit so early, you are suppose to came back, pack and head down.

There is a route specifically for descending, its incredibly easy. We had decided early to descend all the way to he gate and make the trip officially 4 days from start to finish, but Nadia and I decided to spend one more night in the mountain, it seem crazy since making it all the way it meant we had to arrive into Moshi ahead of schedule and pay for accommodations and meals, in the mountain, except for the tip it was paid. It turned out to be the best decision, once again we were treated to a beautiful camp. The next morning, after an early breakfast we run the last few miles and arrived at the gate just 58 minutes later. I was the first one down, ahead of all the porters, which it means I need to look closer into Diamox, i guess it was the altitude that made it so hard for me. Nadia was as fresh as a daisy when she arrived just 10 minutes after.Not catching up to me because she forgot her runners and run all the way in hiking boots. We felt foolish because we were glad to beat all the porters. The porters are incredibly fit and can out climb anybody, even if they are carrying such heavy loads.

I haven’t decided anything about my next climb, physically, it is possible to continue at the rate I am going as long as I start to slow down and not climb as fast. Going with Nadia however made me want to do the climbs with people that I care for, ideally, I would love for Charlie to be there with me. I think that the shifting that is happening is a positive one, I am started to expect more of my adventures, I usually find joy on the fact that I am doing them at all, now I am thinking that sharing them with somebody close to me are more meaningful.The farther I travel and the higher i climb the more I discover how important my loved ones are.
“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” Morrie Schwartz


Daniel said...

Hi Norma.
Great story. With your permission I'd like to post it on my website ( I too was amazed at the beauty and warmth of the Tanzanian people. And I like to share that with others.


Norma Bastidas said...

Hi Dan,

of course! thank so so much,Nadia and i had an amazing experience with you guys, i would recoment Adventures within reach to anybody!