Kilimanjaro / by Emi Day

It's been eight weeks since I've returned from Africa and I'm still waiting for my thumbnails to fall off...

Let me rewind. Tanzania was spectacular. It's hard to believe everything that happened- the wildlife, the singing, the Pepto pep talks, and of course, the climb. Trips like this push you to be your best self: friendly, forgiving, and fearless. It's one of those few times in your life that being the simple struggling and surviving human is all you can offer. When you don't have any energy left to hide your difficulty, discomfort, and desperation, who are you? 

The lack of atmospheric pressure pushed my skin outward and my nails didn't keep up. It was a unique type of torture: besides the excruciating pain at the base of my nailbeds, I was near the limits of my body, mind, and spirit with people I barely know. But that's just the beginning of things I didn't know-- how long a week really was, that I like to read aloud, how much I need slow, quiet mornings to sip tea and draw, or that an inflatable banana will not self-inflate at 19,341 ft.

I'm not as extroverted or fierce as am downtown on the ground, but I saw a side of myself that was patient and strong. We laughed about our pathetic complaints and we indulged in our discomforts with costumes and science experiments. I let myself be seen, and from that place of vulnerability, I wholly loved my beautiful, generous companions who took care to know me. 

As I watch my new thumbnails grow into place, I am grateful for these renewed senses, the slow and steady mountain mantras (polΓ©-polΓ© in Swahili), and the bare, bullshit-free base layer that keeps me real.

A moment of elation at Uhuru Peak

Our last day, singing and dancing with Assistant Guide Nyanda, Cook Peter, and our 12 porters.

No makeup, no worries

No makeup, no worries