Questions, tears and strength

I’m back guys! Once we left Olkaria camp we did an endurance run back to the training basecamp in Oloitokitok. Running is definitely not one of my strong points but my team and I managed to get back in one piece. We set small targets for ourselves during the run and when one of us was struggling we ran together holding hands. I am super proud of myself as I ran a half marathon. The first and maybe the last in my life but we will see! Although we mixed it up by walking and running throughout. Once we arrived back at the hotel we were able to shower! I think that was the only thing keeping me going. Even though we were the last team to arrive we were greeted by the others at the end and it was so wonderful how they welcomed us.

After we had breakfast Steve and Mawe told us we will be doing the Solo exercise. This was something I was already really nervous about, as I had been told some stories from previous participants. However I was really looking forward to being alone. Mawe showed us how to pitch our own bivouac, with two large plastic sheets. They gave us small rations of food to last us for the 36 hours. Once we were briefed, we made our way to the forest. We got there and the solitude started. We weren’t allowed to talk to one another and were lead to our separate locations. The first night was great! I pitched my tent like a hammock and since there was no sign of rain I could look up to the stars. That night I fell asleep pretty quickly because I was so tired from the trek and run in the Maasai Plains. The next morning I woke up really refreshed and felt so serene being with nature. I wrote a lot in my journal, reflecting on my life. I focused on my past and present and where I want to go in the future. This was a real eye opener for me as normally I have such a busy schedule I never have time to do this. I think it’s definitely something I plan to do more often. The best part about it was that I’m moving to a new chapter in my life, so i felt it was really important for me to do this. One of the big questions I asked myself was “How can I be alone without being lonely?” This is something I have battled with myself much of my life. I have always been very independent but I have always felt really lonely. Even though I have no problem being alone I think before it came from a more negative space so I have learnt to see it as a positive. I definitely learned a lot about myself. The day went by quite smoothly but then a large animal came charging past my tent. I think that must of been the sign that things were about to get much worse.

As it got darker it was raining a little bit but I thought it would pass. Boy was I wrong! It started raining cats and dogs and my hammock tent was not practical at all. The water started to fill up and I ended up in a lake! At this point I was soaking wet and my sleeping bag was drenched. Mawe and Steve told us that if we had a problem that we should call “We” three times and then they would respond with “Wa”. I tried it a few times with no response so I thought to myself let me try and walk to their tent. I started walking but it was dark so I wasn’t really sure where I was going. I would walk for a while then call “We” and still no one was hearing me and everytime I would shout the rain got harder. In between me shouting for a response, I was crying and calling for my mum as I got more and more lost. I don’t know how long I walked but finally I heard a “Wa”. At this point I had stopped walking and was sat on my sleeping bag crying that I may not be found until the next morning. The worst part of it was that my eyes would play tricks on me – I thought I could see lights. When I was walking, I thought I could hear cars going down a road, so I thought let me walk to there and if I find a Boda Boda (minibus) I can get taken to the hotel and call Steve and Mawe. Once I heard their “Wa’s” I decided to try and walk towards their sound. The moment I saw them I don’t think I have ever been more thankful in my life. Mawe told me if I had walked any further I would have reached Tanzania.

Because the rain was so bad we went round to everyone’s bivouac and gathered everyone up to go back to camp. Us girls slept in one tent and the boys in another. All my clothes had gotten wet so I was freezing that night and we  didn’t really sleep so well. In the morning we packed up and went to collect our tents. We also walked to the border which was breathtaking! I still can not get over the views! I don’t think I would ever get used to it. After that we walked back to the hotel and had lunch and did some washing. Again I was so excited for a shower! After lunch we had a talk with a doctor about HIV and AIDS. This ended up being an intense debate on sex education, consent and the LGBTQ community. At the beginning I found it alright but then as the topics went on I felt quite uncomfortable by some of the opinions my peers had. I think as much as we were told that it is a youth issue it’s more of a collective problem and to tackle it it needs to be an intergenerational conversation. But I think all in all it helped us all and maybe people left the talk questioning their own views.

I am really looking forward to our trip to Amboseli tomorrow morning and then the drive to Marangu. I am mentally and emotionally prepared for the climb ahead, and really look forward to meeting the other climbers who will be joining us!

– Akinyi Obama-Manners, 16/10-21

Want to support this mission?

Be a part of The Big Climbs. In parallel with the Mount Kilimanjaro climb and Mount Everest Basecamp trek, organize your own activity. Raise awareness on the need to support sustainable mountain development. Raise funds for projects that will make a difference in communities, using mountains as vehicle for creating better and more sustainable lively hoods.

Funds will go to recognized community-based projects.