Field Notes

Kilimanjaro : 3 • July 7-July 29, 2016

All Arrived in Tanzania!

July 6, 2017

Hi Kilimanjaro Families, 

We just heard from the group in Tanzania and everyone has arrived safely! Our Admissions team will be calling all families shortly to confirm the group’s safe arrival.

-The Moondance Team


Safari Dreamin'

July 29, 2016

Hi Kilimanjaro Families!

4 days of relaxing Safari seems as fitting an ending as any to 3 adventurous weeks in Tanzania. For the past 4 days we’ve sailed (well, jostled) through the Ngorongoro crater and the plains of the Serengeti, enjoying some very eventful wildlife watching. Within the first two days, we had closely observed each member of the big five (lion, leopard, water buffalo, elephant, & rhino), and things only picked up from there.

Spencer earned her soon-to-be nickname “The Fast Hunter,” by making a deep connection with a momma cheetah, while Kennon, Bridget, and Margaret telepathically communicated with some fierce lionesses. It was all we could do to keep Shep from hopping out of the safari car to join a band of mongooses swimming through the sea of grass. Gunby rode shotgun and called the shots (or so our driver Emanuel let him think) whilst Jo and Marguerite held it down in the back with infinite Pringles and stirring conversation. Hayes and Libby really bonded over a leopard sighting late in the afternoon of our final day in the plains. Julia was amused, but really couldn’t think of much besides that evening’s eminent soup feast, and our chief dreamer Kelley was already envisioning the Serengeti night sky.

We could continue to regale you with tales of the African bush, but you’re certain to hear all about it when you’re reunited with your respective Moondancers. Do not be surprised if National Geographic calls in request of your son or daughter’s photos.

In addition to Safari, we were able to spend some time amongst the Maasai people. Though we had visited Bomas before, our experience was a bit more immersive this time around. Upon arriving, we were promptly shrouded in traditional garb (shukas) and greeted with an elaborate song and dance. The proceeding experience was a lesson in humility for us all. Their education, home life and culinary habits are stripped down to the bare necessities, inspiring us all to think a bit about all the things we have but could easily do without. Jake made it very clear that he would have no problem surviving in Maasai culture (at least in terms of their diet), eating his weight in freshly barbecued goat meat. It is safe to say none of us will soon forget the sights, sounds, smells, and thoughts invoked by the African culture and landscape.

Alas, we now we find ourselves on the long road home, celebrating Big Jay’s 19th birthday intermittently along the way via novelty gift showers, questionable cake consumption, and super rad in-transit dance parties. See you soon loved ones!


The Roof of Africa

July 22, 2016

Greetings families and friends! We’re back at the cozy SG for a night of much deserved respite prior to our departure to the African bush for safari! Amidst snacking and showering, we tracked down the crew room by room to provide you with first-hand accounts of our epic ascent! Enjoy! 

Day 1:

Today we began our Kili journey! After a lovely breakfast at the SG Hotel (which we soon realized we should not have taken for granted), we hopped on the bus to Machame Gate where we signed in and ate an insane amount of peanut butter and honey sandwiches. After lunch we hiked through the rain forest for about four hours to Machame Camp and picked up a good amount of mud and dirt that would be on us for the next 7 days. But as a group we all began to smell together, so it was slightly more bearable. After our first meal on the trail, we settled into our tents and got a good night’s rest  for the days to come!

– Marguerite , Jo and Julia

Day 2:

After recovering from our first day of hiking, we began our second day towards the top. It was a much shorter day, but equally as challenging and exciting. We arrived at our camp site around lunch time and then proceeded to talk and nap our way through snack time. In the afternoon we took a nature hike to get used to the altitude and gain a better view of the beautiful mountain above and below us. We ended our day bundled in our parkas ready to continue the journey to the summit!

– Bridget, Spencer & Margaret 

Day 3: 

Today was our longest hike yet. We trekked about 4 hours to our lunch site and enjoyed some grub before continuing on with the second half of our hike. The rest of our journey was a downhill walk along a waterfall. There was the occasional tumble from a group member, but we always bounced right back up. Our campsite was next to a very cool cliff with a great view of both the mountain and the surrounding valleys. On this clear night we could see the lights of a nearby city. This day concluded with a well-deserved sleep. 

– Hayes, Gunby & Jay 

Day 4:

After a wonderful night’s sleep at a beautiful camp site, we awoke to another breakfast by Vincent (our chef extraordinaire). Then we packed our bags and headed up Breakfast Wall. Once through this challenging obstacle, we continued until lunch a few hours later. Following lunch, we continued our day by hiking another challenging 4 hours. We finished the day by getting to the base camp for summiting early the next morning. We were tired but anxious and ready to fulfill our long anticipated goals!!

– Libby, Kennon & Kelley 

Day 5: 

Not long after retiring to our tents and getting as much sleep as possible, we got up at around 3 am to make a final push towards the summit of Kilimanjaro. With our headlamps on we trekked in the dark “pole pole” (slowly) for several hours before pausing to witness the beautiful sunrise over Mawenzi peak. Everyone handled the altitude differently, but with the glory of summiting on our minds we pushed past the pain and kept going. We reached Stella point and Uhuru peak was finally in sight. By around 11, the entire group had reached the sign marking the Roof of Africa and the top of the tallest free standing mountain in the world!  We were all worn out at the time but as soon as we reached the top everyone lit up with excitement. After a long celebration we began our journey back to our previous camp, which was followed by a peaceful and well-earned nap until dinner where we celebrated our amazing achievement.

– Jake & Shep

Day 6:

The first day that gravity was on our side! After a luxurious sleep-in, we hit the trail. Though we expected for the trek down to our last camp to take half the day we got there in no time at all and enjoyed a lazy afternoon in the sunshine. Books were read, popcorn was eaten, and well-deserved naps were taken. What a great last full day on kili! 

-Holly and Davis (known collectively as Dolly Havis)

Day 7: 

Today we woke up to what would be our last day on the mountain. We were anxious to get to the SG to shower, but in an effort to “live in the moment” we were embracing our last moments on this beautiful mountain. As we were about to leave the camp site, the guides and porters surprised with a dance and song that we soon joined in on. 3 hours later, we were exiting the gates of Mount Kilimanjaro. After a delicious lunch at the bottom of the mountain, we headed back to the SG for showers and an endless buffet. Everyone is now packed and ready for an endless week of safari!  

– Kennon (a little extra writing for today’s Leader of the Day) 

That’s all for now. As an end, I’d like to comment on how lucky we leaders are to have accompanied this crew to the Roof of Africa. Throughout the trek, they displayed unparalleled spirit, support for one another and an insatiable hunger for their goal. We received praise from our guides in many occasions (some considered the group amongst the strongest they had led). After seven days on the trail and 2 weeks together, Davis and I fully agree. Until next time! 

– Kilimanjaro Crew 


JAMBO!

July 15, 2016

Mambo family!

 

And so concludes the first installment in our three part series! Yesterday, alongside the students of Mungere school, we sowed the final seeds in their new expansive and diverse garden. It was a fitting conclusion to 5 sweaty days spent tilling soil, preparing compost and learning Swahili!

 

The days at Mungere school were an exercise in humility as it quickly became apparent that we would be gaining far more from the experience than we could ever hope to give back. The students, faculty and families we met while at Mungere displayed unparalleled authenticity, drive and kindness. We parted with vast respect for our hosts and the refreshing idea that the quantity of your possessions has little to do with the quality of your life.

 

We spent our nights at Njake lodge, camped amidst bush babies (a tiny monkey) and German tourists. We feasted each meal, eating plenty of soup (hydration) in preparation for our Kili climb – beginning tomorrow! To send us off we thought we’d give everyone the opportunity to make a pre-climb shout out! So now, a word from your world travelers:

 

Shep: Hey people, I’m having a great time out here in Tanzania. I’ll be climbing Kilimanjaro tomorrow. See you soon! Xx Shep

 

Jake: Mambo mom, dad, and Zach! Tanzania is awesome so far, the service was great and we’re starting our trek up Kili tomorrow morning. I hope y’all and the dogs are doing well back home, I’ll see you soon! – Jake

 

Kennon: Jambo mom and dad! I hope that everything at home is great and that the dogs are doing well:))!! I am having a great time in Tanzania and tomorrow we leave for Kili!! This week I have learned a lot of Swahili so I now know how to count and say some phrases!!! I miss y’all so much and I’ll see you guys soon!!:)) Kili here I come!

Love Kennon:)

 

Libby: Jambo fam and friends!! Tanzania is amazingg!! Service was so much fun and I’m pumped for the climb up Kili tomorrow!! Can’t wait to be able to show pictures and share stories to let y’all just get a snippet of how awesome Africa is!! Love and miss y’all!!!

Xoxo, Libby

 

Spencer: Heyo wassup mom and dad bought some elephant pants and ripped them on the 2nd day of the trip hahah typical. This trip has been amazing so far and I’m so grateful I was able to come here! Shoutout to Mommy Meet-Up if any of y’all are reading this I love and miss y’all and I’ve eaten vegetables everyday y’all should be proud. See ya soon fam!!!

 

Julia: Hey mom and dad!! Hope all is well in the washed out bottom of the United States! Having a great time and leaving tomorrow to begin our ascent up the hill! Miss y’all lots and thanks so much! Tell the fam I say hey! -Your favorite child (Julia)

 

Marguerite: JAMBO!! I can now count to 50 and carry out a very simple conversation in Swahili thanks to my new friends in Tanzania! Tomorrow we will begin our trek up Mlima Kilimanjaro (Mt. Kili), I promise I will come home!! I’ve gotten to shower a surprising amount of times…soo y’all will be able to hug me when I get back!! I love y’all and have a blast in NOLA and NYC!! P.s. Tell Eugenia that the Hamilton obsession does exist everywhere! And Tell Finn hey and that I don’t smell bad!!

-Marg<3

 

Hayes: Hello. I am having fun. I’m gonna throw a pigskin over the mountain. Go hoos.

 

Kelley: hello family! I’m having a blast here! My bag got here safely and I haven’t gotten any fatal diseases yet. I love you and miss you all so much! Ok bye, gonna go climb a mountain. Also HBD booger!

 

Bridget: hey fam!! I am having a fantastic time! I have never experienced such meaningful service! It was incredible! I learned how to count in Swahili and a few other basic phrases- I also got to meet some of the nicest people and learn incredible things about the massai tribe! I am beyond excited to climb Kili! Wish me luck! Riley- have a wonderful time on your trip! They are going to be a few of the best weeks of your life so treasure every moment!

 

Jay: hey Mom and Dad. I’m having a really good time. We just finished up the community service part and we start climbing tomorrow. Miss you.

 

Gunby: Whaddup rents. Having a great time over here on the set of the lion king. Mom, shoutout to you for the Polaroid idea. The kids loved getting pictures of themselves. Dad, shoutout to you for being a bro.

 

Margaret: Jambo fam!! I love and miss you so much :). I hope Dan and Ruth had a great send off to camp. What are you doing David? What could you possibly be doing with all your free time now mom and dad!? We just finished an amazing week of service and we’re leaving for Kili tomorrow!! I can’t wait to tell you all about it. See you soon! Pet violet and clover for me tonight.

 

Jo: hey  Mom, Dad, and others! Hope you have a blast without your favorite daughter. In case you were wondering I am having an awesome time here. So far I have learned the basics of Swahili and how to garden. Tomorrow we will begin our terrifying trek up the hill (kili). I am equally scared and excited so hopefully I make it up (and home). I miss you guys. Tell everyone I say JAMBO!

Love, Big Jo