Flights are out tomorrow just after midnight. During the day we will relax then dine at Carnivore's, a Nairobi restaurant made famous by the meat eaters. When you're finished you hold up or set down the white flag set as the center piece. (It may be PETA folks who made this place famous. "People Eating Tasty Animals".)
Before leaving for Carnivore's there should be more posts about each camp in between Machame trailhead and the Mweka Camp exit. I have a story to tell that began five years ago and includes an old friend, Thobious Kundaell that travelled from the Gates of the Maranga in Africa to see Jamie and in the process to see once again his old friend from the 2000 and 2001 summit attempts. Until tomorrow I remain .... Steve
Judging character, selecting wine and mixing personalities.
Convention tells us many things and is based mainly upon our past experiences. For instance, we in America all want to drive on the right side of the road, walk on the right, pass on the right and have our every expectation met just the way it has been in the past. That's not always possible and we strive to teach our children that very thing. Be flexible. Mountaineering trips teach us many things that belie our conventional wisdom. Some good and others ... well, just different.
You might think because we traveled a bazillion miles through Europe to Africa that somehow we have stepped off the planet. But that like conventional wisdom is simply not true.
Along the way here on the mountain, half way or more across the world we've met many extraordinary people from our own neck of the woods. I for one met several Hawkeye Graduates and fans, Red Sox fans and a doctor who is moving to Ames, Iowa to practice with McFarland Clinics. I was jibed by a Buckeye Fan; oh they are so jealous of not being a Hawkeye. Dan met some folks that hailed from Watertown, Massachusetts where he once worked. The point is we all met others that were no different than ourselves or what we know about the conventional lives we lead.
Here in Nairobi, these past few days, there was a United Nations Conference on global warming that concerns us all. Jamie while sitting at the bar met a very high ranking UN official visiting that conference. His wife is a wine distributor, extremely articulate and even though not from the USA, very knowledgeable about those things The Dirk thinks about. (We just can't say what they are. None have yet been declassified.)
There are personal interest stories as well. A young couple from the Jersey Isles off of France, dred locks in place managed their way up to the summit through a snow storm to place mementos of a past relative. His mother, who was here to climb Kilimanjaro a few years ago received word of her husband's illness and returned home without recourse to finish the climb. The grandmother financed half the expedition for these young folks to place what they thought to be important to his memory. I met them again as they descended and guess what? At the summit he proposed marriage to her and she accepted.
And there are less vital but equally important opportunities for Americans to show what they are about. A physician from Austria and her husband had exhausted their camera batteries. By the time they reached high camp a summit photo was fading. Get with it folks, there is no Seven Eleven at high camp! Our team of climbers got batteries and an extra camera to them to make for them a historic moment. Would it have mattered any to our team that they had no image? Probably not. We would never have seen them again. But it did to them and together we are a better climbing team than we could ever be solo.
But that's the point I began with. Jamie selects a good glass of wine and a great team with which to climb. He gets to know you and your limits. He pushes you to do your best but to do it in a safe way all the while enjoying yourself and getting to know a new land and it's people. We are not tourists with SEI, we are travellers and there is an enormous difference between the two.
And about that glass of wine. Man we ate at the Tratoria Ristorante-Pizzeria-Enoteca-Wine Bar tonight. It's been here in Nairobi since 1981. Mamma Ruffo's home made pasta to the home made ice cream is to die for. The menu abounds with specialties from her original home in Cabrabria in southern Italy. Gaetano, her son is the latest in a long line of chef-restaurateurs.
The drink menu includes "Out of Africa" (J&B, Rare. Myers Run and Kenya Gold for 450 KSH. Also, scaloppine ai Funghi e Mentuccia. Or a B-52! A Rob Roy or a Black Mamba made with Kenya Cane, Kenya Gold and coca cola for 350 KSH. The wine of course is from Italy.
We paid our bill, the waiter directed us to the restaurant vehicle that took us back to the Nairobi Serena. Only one thing left to say.....
This is the place to be. If it were in the midwest we'd all be eating at Mamma Ruffo's. Buon Appetito!
Jamie "The Pitt" Pierce
03/02/2006, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa
Dirk is sleeping so I can write this before he wakes up. (Read it, copy it and disseminate quickly before he wakes and feels the need to delete it.)
Age: None of us are really sure. But we think under 35.
Marital Status - A Babe known only to us as "Dusty". Described by The Pitt as a Goddess from some country where she was sleeping melodiously along the Nile River when he met her. There is a rumor she may have had a role with Bogart, at Ricks in Casablanca. We just haven't been able to confirm the reports.
Home port - At times it's been the Drake Passage of the Bearing Straits with Captain Ron at the Helm making extra crispy French fries and teaching The Pitt the finer things of how to take constant wave motion. Once again... we're still checking. When landlocked he's hailing from Colorado Springs, Colorado. He's had relatives in Ankeny, Iowa believe it or not and his mother, another Barbara, this one Barbara Sue, hails from the Midwest along with his Dad.
Children - Two great step kids.
Employment - This again is a mystery to all of us that climb and mountaineer with The Pitt. But we have been debriefing other clients and The Pitt's attaché' each confirming he runs a company with the pseudonym, "SEI".
Personal Interests - Well, he doesn't worry about the Red Sox or the Patriots so who cares? Okay he's a mountaineer, a rock climber, a businessman, a husband, an extraordinary kind of guy that blies complete description.
Strengths - As many as he has weaknesses but once again he suffers not with us Red Sox Fans so who cares?
My Read On The Pitt - Jamie Pierce is a guy you'd love to climb with because he understands risk, is concerned about risk to his clients and appreciates the risk they take being adventureous. (Although out of focus, I've chosen this image, because it shows the focus The Pitt exhibits even when things aren't going just quite right.)