Sometimes, some distant places are so far and unreachable that you think about going to them like going to the Moon. My first idea about going to Kilimanjaro came when I realized that you can actually go there… when some people I knew went there. The immediate panicky urge formed in me, mixed with fear and longing. I didn’t pull strength and “resources” to go, by now. And next week this time, I will start the climb. All the climbing and mountains I’ve stepped on in the past year have just been an introduction to Kilimanjaro. It was a preparation. Even going to Mont Blanc was training for Kilimanjaro. Maybe I am, in my head, traveling through time into the beginning of the 20th century and the world of Karen Blixen from Out of Africa.
Out of Africa
“It’s an odd feeling, farewell. There is such envy in it. Men go off to be tested, for courage. And if we’re tested at all, it’s for patience, for doing without, for how well we can endure loneliness.” Karen Blixen aka Isak Dinesen, “Out of Africa”. This is how the trailer to the movie Out of Africa starts, with a Meryl Streep Danish accented English, with a calm and slow and relaxed voice. This voice and this movie is what made me, a thirteen year-old girl, fall in love with Africa, “a land of beauty, mystery, and majesty”.
The movie is about a life of Karen Blixen in Africa, and basically her love towards this continent. She lived for some time on Ngong hills, around 200 km from Kilimanjaro. The book, however, is more about the contrasts – between our world and the world of Africa, between us Europeans and the Natives of Africa.
I had a short encounter with African culture when I was in Senegal in 2011. and I remember how beautiful the people were to me, dark and tall and antelope-like elegant, with white teeth, and alive happy eyes. I spoke with some of them and they seemed so genuinely light. Senegal is, however on the opposite side of Africa. Probably people and cultures on the west and the east of Africa, are as different as British and Russian people are. But these people seemed opposite to everything we know here – they are so relaxed in the deliberate slowness of their moves and with a simple philosophy of life. And for me, everything is rushing from one place to another, juggling with too many things at the same time. It feels like I am going to a place where everything is opposite to what I am.
From jungle mud to Snows of Kilimanjaro
I do not know if I identify myself with the character of Karen Blixen, or with Denys (in the movie played by Robert Redford), her wandering lover, who doesn’t own and doesn’t like to be owned, and who is essentially free. Am I a patient and lonely Karen, with a calm voice, who loves the nature of Africa, and is brave and strong enough to take a caravan through the jungle and savannah of Africa to bring equipment to her husband (in the movie she organizes a caravan and doesn’t give up when everybody says that a woman shouldn’t do it), or Denys, a big-game hunter who is also one with the nature and feels like a Native, who needs the freedom of the vast plains of Africa. I do not know what to expect of the jungle mud we will be going through, the rains and the mosquitos, of not bathing for days, of sleeping with 20 people in a room, of different cleanliness levels, the food, the height. People send me links to articles, travelodges, videos about dangers, beauties, height fevers, mystique bones of a leopard and elephants found on heights where no animal goes, of snows of Kilimanjaro, or Snows of Kilimanjaro… Snows of Kilimanjaro. I am finally going. And the organizer starts e-mails with hakuna-matata. Isn’t that everything?
Sometimes, some distant places are so far and unreachable that you think about them like going to the Moon. My first idea about going to Kilimanjaro came when I realized that you can actually go there… when some people I knew went there. The immediate panicky urge formed in me, mixed with fear and longing. I didn’t pull strength and “resources” to go by now. And next week this time, I will start the climb. All the climbing and mountains I’ve stepped on in the past year have just been an introduction to Kilimanjaro. It was a preparation. Even going to Mont Blanc was a training for Kilimanjaro. Maybe I am, in my head, traveling through time into the beginning of the 20th century and the world of Karen Blixen. Maybe I will find everything that I am not. Maybe it is just another mountain. But I am certainly looking forward.
photo credit: Rei.com
Natasa is an avid hiker, but still discovering herself and the world of hiking. This blog is a place where she shares her thoughts of the mountains.
An economist by education, Natasa is the chief marketing officer of Domain.ME, the international tech company that operates the internet domain “.ME.” She’s spent her entire career at the intersection of airline, banking, social media, leadership and technology, and is constantly trying to figure out the secret to being in three different places at the same time.