Kevin's First Impression of Tanzania, It’s official! We are here in Kilimanjaro and I can’t believe how unbelievably beautiful Tanzania is! From the moment that I got off the plane, the feeling was a surreal hit
I’m actually here. Seeing commercials on TV and hearing about different organizations travelling to Africa for charitable work have surrounded me all my life, but this is a different story.
Being my first IBD adventure with IDEAS and Rob Hill, I am here for a different reason. My motivation sparks from my experience and determination to find a cure for IBD, whether that be Crohn’s, Colitis or some other variation.
That being said, I also want to be able to help patients cope with the disease by offering them support and especially by sending youth to camp, where they can be with their peers, understand their bodies and really understand what it means to be an individual living with a chronic illness.
It was through camp that I was fortunate enough to meet the Rob Hill and since then, I’ve had multiple opportunities to grow and establish myself in the IBD community via sponsorships for counselor training and even this trip! I’ve made so many connections along the way and I look at this disease as a blessing in disguise, as opposed to a limitation on my life… but that’s another story!
It’s been a couple days since we arrived here in Tanzania. Rob and I flew in Saturday night. We were joined by Chaz on Sunday morning and the super fantastic Marsha on Sunday night. It’s been fantastic getting to know the team and I can tell this trip is going to be a blast! However, I have not only met the team I’m trekking with, but I’ve got to chat and meet with so many different people from around the world that are doing this mountain!
Currently there are 5 brits, 2 aussies, 1 londener, 2 canadians, 4 americans at site and the number is constantly changing and growing as parties start their treks and adventures at different times. Even my current tally is probably only accurate to 12 hours. I don’t know how I’m keeping my accents together but I am!
You know when you’re around accents, you start copying them.. yeah I’m doing that. I’m pretty sure they think I’m mocking them all though ha-ha. I seriously still can’t believe that I’m actually here. From meeting the villagers (love the children), to seeing the landscape and even trying some of the food – this is a wild ride and I’m ready to strap in and enjoy the journey!
On Sunday afternoon, Chaz, Rob and myself headed for a beautiful nature hike to Lake Chala. It was here that I got to know and meet Chaz and begin to understand his character. We are both aspiring medical students with similar degree backgrounds (albeit he has his Masters) but it’s neat talking to someone on the same page about what life is going to be like in the coming years. Chaz is handling his Crohn’s Disease quite well and this is also his first IBD adventure. He’s a funny, cool guy with great personality and loads of confidence. He’s well travelled, cultured and in general, a superbly hilarious person to be around! I can tell he is going to be a lot of fun to have around.
On Monday afternoon, Marsha and I were fortunate enough to do a walking tour of the village behind the hotel we are staying at, ultimately hiking down to Ndoro Falls. I seriously cannot believe how amazing this woman is! From breaking her foot less than a few months ago to getting ready for a mountainous climb, Marsha is one solid woman! We had a chance to talk, get to know each other’s lives and really touch base before our 7 day adventure.
I could not have asked for a better afternoon as we saw many things, shared tons of laughs and paved way for a rock-solid relationship. I can’t wait to get on the mountain and spend more time with her! Although our tour guide was hardcore doubting us and I’m pretty sure he thinks we’re gonna fail. Whatever Marsha, let’s stick it to him and show him that we mean BIZ-NESS.
Now for Rob Hill.. what can I say about him? Sharing a room with him at the Marangu Hotel has been quite the journey… but in a good way! Rob has been a mentor and a very dear friend for 10 years now! Some people are wondering how I’ve put up with him for so long, but I tend to do breathing exercises to help calm me down. But seriously, all jokes aside – this trip is the first time that I have gotten to spend an elongated amount of time with Rob and it’s been a really fun time. Describing Rob is tough and describing our relationship is even tougher. It’s because this relationship means so much to me that I can’t put words and limit myself to the extraordinary person that I have had the privilege of meeting. Yeah, he’s a real pain in my gut (get it?) but I wouldn’t have it any other way! So stoked to share this trip with him and conquer Kili too!
As we are about to embark on the mountain, I don’t know how to feel. I don’t think I will know the feeling until I’ve actually stepped onto the highest free standing peak in the world and I feel the accomplishment. I know that I can do this and I will push myself to my limits and beyond for not only myself, but all my friends/family plus the support network that’s backing me on this (this one’s for you Oprah). Okay, that oprah shoutout was a joke, but seriously…. I don’t want to get nervous but deep down, I am freaked! I’m going to have to keep it together though. I’m most looking forward to just hanging at base camps, sitting around a fire (if we can get one started) and simply enjoying this moment that life is throwing at me.
Tomorrow is a new day and that day will bring new challenges. I’m so ready for this! Thank you again to everyone that’s helped me along the way, truly appreciate it and so humbled by your kindess. My name is Kevin Ram and IBD doesn’t stop me!