In a surreal feeling I find myself in a Giraffe Cafe, drinking a second latte watching the sun rise and soak into the airport tarmack. I am starting to think the reason that travel between Moshi, Tanzania and Boulder, Colorado is so long is becuase I need the time to switch gears and realize that there is more than distance that separates these two significant places in my life at this moment. So many differences in how we live, what is available, what we believe and how we experience it is necessary to allow the mind and body time to absorb it all.
This definitely feels like a life impacting trip. My drive and energy for travel is renewed and is also inspired. It makes some of my other trips seem unnecessary in comparison. I felt myself, heart & spirit open in a way that feels familiar and I remember but seem to have lost a bit in my crazy wanderings that double over each other and at times leave me spinning . I am so thankful for the time to spend running in new terrain, with simple focus on the here and now; the basics of running, eating and sleeping the focus. When given a bit of free time I found the simple tasks that filled the time were more rewarding than cumbersome - like writing, reading, communicating with the group, laundry and even a bit of meditation.
The last day of running was by comparison to the previous three, much more mellow and easier. About 20k in a little over 4 hours got us to the Mbahe gate around 1pm. After videos and photos we meandered the trails back towards Simon's house. I was admittedly feeling like our finish felt a bit anti-climatic, like there was something missing, like the energy of a grand finish didn't quite click when we touched the gate. A 1.5k walk to Simons and hot showers was cut short with a stop off at the local swimming hole - a beautiful waterfall fed natural rock pool. The perfect place for the shoes & socks to disappear followed by the packs and shirts. Steve and Simon jumped the 3meter cliff with an easy "3-2-1 See Ya!" count down. Kate followed quickly behind, then Jerry. Jake had his tired achilles soaking below and Andrew was capturing the energy on film. Iddy and Siggy (our guides) were taking their time and all were cheering me on yet I found myself gulping air at the edge, being a ninny. I could run the 270k, but couldn't bring myself to push off the edge. "It's the finish line!" Steve offered. "You are not truly done until you jump!" Simon furthered. "Come On!" Andrew crouched waiting for a final shot and likely anxious to get into the water himself. The group tried counting down and that seemed to make it worse. Finally when things quieted just a bit I reached to plug my nose, curled my toes over the edge and then pushed off out over the cool pool below...
Under water I felt the smile creep across my face and I could hear the cheering grow as my bubbles raced me to the surface. FINISHED! Now that was a suitable finish to our great trip round!
We egged on Siggy & Iddy as well. Iddy went first and we noticed he couldn't swim that well and Jerry pulled him in, but then he went back for more. Siggy took a bit more encouragement and I even crawled back up on the rocks to jump with him. Better prepared this time Steve was ready. Siggy burst back through the surface and the look of fear on his face struck me deep. Steve was there and ready thankfully. Siggy basically climbed on Steve's shoulders forcing Steve under and I grabbed Siggy's arm and talked/swam him to shallow section. His relief was evident as his feet hit ground. About a second later Steve broke the surface with his big Hawaiian smile.
The afternoon and evening were pretty chill. The hot shower felt amazing and I soaked my laundry in the intentionally plugged up shower floor while we indulged in lunch. I read, finished laundry and chilled before making my way back up for more eats and the wrap up celebration. We ate local cuisine with the entire group, sang songs in Swahili and spoke freely about how much fun we had on the trail and in realizing Simon's dream.
Wagon Wheel was stuck in my head for most of the later part of the run and on the final day I wrote my own version called "Runin' 'round Kili". Kate helped me sing it as my contribution. My first song and first time to sing in front of a group of strangers. It was a blast, but I could tell the white girls needed to take a few lessons :)
The rhythm and voices of the Tanzania's completely trumped my meager effort and I was more than happy to clap along and laugh. It was a good night's sleep.