Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Adventure Begins - Even Before Arriving to Mt. Kili

Ashesh and Swetal
We knew there would be plenty of adventure once we got to the foot of the mountain, but we had quite the unpredictable start to our journey, even before leaving the U.S.  On Monday, Ashesh and Swetal were scheduled to leave from Philadelphia, PA.  However, Swetal got unexpectedly ill just a couple of hours before their flight.  
"Oh no!  What should we do?" thought Ashesh and Sonal.  They discussed moving his flight to the next day or canceling the trip altogether, but Swetal said, "Let's just see how I feel once I get to the airport."  Fortunately, he recovered.  It turns out, he was probably having a bad reaction to the malaria tablets.  They met up with Ruchir in Detroit and continued the 24-hour trip to Amsterdam and then Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania.  Ashesh commented how intense the coffee was in Amsterdam and it seemed like they would need it for the long road ahead.  

From the airport he wrote, Just met Ken from Limuru. He is Kenyan and lives in Lawrence, MA. Ken has eleven brothers and sisters - six of whom live in Boston. When I told him about Kili, the first question he asked was, "Are you guys hitting your mid life crisis?" as he just turned 40 this year."

Pritesh and Ronak, London to Nairobi
Meanwhile, Pritesh and Ronak were making their journey from Boston to London to Kenya.  Their journey seemed a little more seamless.  Pritesh shared a special touching message that he got along the way, "Hi! I have reached Nairobi. The lady who sat next to me en route to Nairobi, a dual UK and Kenyan citizen, and I had an extensive conversation. She is going to visit her parents, siblings and newly adopted nine-month old daughter outside the slopes of Mt. Kenya. The biological mother is 32, an alcoholic with signs of jaundice, and has has had eight other children who have all been given up for adoption. I told her about our cause as well as Sia and Simi. A few years ago, the lady sitting sitting next to me was expecting twins, one of whom she was going to name Sia (I could not believe it either). Unfortunately, she had a miscarriage. The lady sitting next to me is a project manager who has worked in several countries for large consulting firms. Having grown up in Kenya, she told me that she never thought about her color until she worked in South Africa in the early 1990s where she was treated worse than the local South Africans because she was "from up there in Africa [Kenya]". Aligned with the latter story and very relevant to our cause, she taught me a Kiswahili proverb, "Haba na Haba, Ujaza Kebaba, " which translates into "Drop by Drop, The Bucket will Fill". With patience, we will prevail! The name of the lady sitting next to me is Annmarie."

Pritesh's poetic path continued as he arrived in Nairobi, where he was born and grew up.  He hasn't been back for more than two decades and it was clear that he felt a special connection to the city as soon as he arrived.

"Just passed the old hood... gosh, crazy memories of me driving on this highway when I was 14ish," he wrote.

Swetal, Ruchir and Ashesh arrive in Tanzania
Back here at home, the Gandhi wives were getting a little worried about Ashesh, Swetal and Ruchir.  They still hadn't heard from them and Dilpa began sending out distress calls through What's App, which has been our family's main mode of communication.  Leave it to Dilpa to track down the boys half way across the world.  It turns out there was some type of problem at that the hotel they were supposed to stay in and they ended up having to move to another hotel.  Let's just say the accommodations were not as nice.

Arriving at the Hotel
After checking in on them, Dilpa wrote, "Just spoke to Swetal and they are fine. Bhabhi thanks for making thepla's because that's what they just got done eating.  They are awake so if anyone wants to call. The front desk has to walk up to their room to give them the phone, so they will say the guys are sleeping. Let them know they are awake and need to talk to them."  (She doesn't mess around.)

Meanwhile, Pritesh and Ronak were at our family friend's house in Nairobi.  Ronak seemed to enjoy finally being in a bed for a change. Pritesh wrote, "Ronak just said that he feels like a princess sleeping under the mosquito net and now he is eating Snickers for breakfast."

Doesn't look like a bad place to stay
Pritesh clearly had a case of insomnia before the climb.  He wrote "Trying to sleep under a mosquito net and Ronak is snoring!  I think he actually woke up the rooster! :)"  He added, "As I think about the hike, I think we are more prepared from a food, pharmacy and technology perspective tan the ACTUAL climb!" 

He clearly will not be ready for the seven hour bus ride to Moshi that awaits him if he doesn't get any sleep!  Moshi is the area in Tanzania where Mt. Kilimanjaro sits and that's where the entire team of seven will reunite for the very first time!  How exciting!

Where are Achal and Preena during all of this, you may ask?  They're chilling at our family friend Neha's house.  Must be nice!


  1. Thinking of you all and excited to follow your passionate journey. With Love, The Walters Family

  2. Bahati Mzurio!

    The Solankis