BootsnAll Travel Network

Welcome to our Travel Blog!

My fiance Christy and I have decided that there's no time like the present to take an "extended honeymoon," so we have quit our jobs to travel around the world. We'll be taking a month to travel Baja California (where we will get married), a month camping in the Pacific Northwest and Colorado, followed by 7 months of extended traveling to Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Fiji. Thanks for taking the time to check out our blog and catch up on our whereabouts. Feel free to leave us some comments/feedback on our entries. TO SEE AN ALBUM OF ALL OUR TRAVEL PICTURES INCLUDING THE WEDDING GO TO

More fun and sun on the island of Koh Tao

January 24th, 2008

After an extended stay at Railey beach, we decided to get our act together and continue on with our trip…so we left our cozy west coast beach and headed out towards an east coast beach!  Koh Tao is a small island off of the east coast of Thailand and is mostly known for its outstanding scuba diving.  In fact, the beaches aren’t much to speak of, but the diving was certainly amazing.  We signed up for two days of diving with a popular diving outfit on the “quiet” side of the island (away from the pier where the parties never end).  Although the company was very professional, they did tend book a lot of divers for each dive.  The boat was a little too crowded for our taste, especially after being spoiled in Pemba with our very own boat.  We quickly came to find out that having 25 people on our boat was nothing compared to the amount of other divers there were in the water at our dive spots.  At one point we counted five other dive boats in the water.  There had to be about 75 or more people diving with us!  It was madness.  We spent a lot of time trying to avoid other divers than really enjoying the view of our dives, but we managed and we still saw some really beautiful fish, coral, turtles, etc.  Definitely worth it, especially since it was only $60/two-tank dive with equipment included!

We were again able to score a cute bungalow (this time on the beach) on the south part of the island away from the main party/touristy areas.  One of the first things we noticed were the number of dogs running around.  The island was full of dogs, which made us miss our own, but we loved having some four legged friends hang out on the beach with us.  They were so mellow…that is until about 1:00 in the morning when they all decided to howl at exactly the same time for about ten minutes straight.  No idea what they were howling at, but every dog in the neighborhood joined in.  It was kind of funny in a strange way until it happened again about an hour later….and then again an hour later.  We weren’t too happy with our four legged friends after a few nights of restless sleep.

We took a break from scuba diving one day and decided that the best way for us to tour the rest of the island was to rent scooters!  Neither of us had ever driven a scooter, but at least Christy had experience riding a motorcycle.  It didn’t matter though, everyone rented scooters on the island regardless of whether they knew how to ride or not.  We had a great time racing around and exploring remote beaches.  We stumbled upon some really cool coves and remote beach bars where we enjoyed some delicious banana shakes.

After a fun day exploring around on the scooters, we were hanging around our bungalow deciding on what to do for dinner when Steve asked me to look at the cut on the bottom of his toe, which he got while we were on the beach in Pemba (Africa) almost two months ago.  It was still swollen and I told him that we should probably have a doctor take a look at it.  But, being the stubborn male that he is, he decided he would just buy more antiseptic for it and visit the doctor later.  So, as I was getting into the shower, Steve headed out the door to find a convenient store for more antiseptic.  He finally returned an hour later (the store was only a block away!!!), white as a ghost and all sweaty.  I asked him where he’d been and he said that he came upon a clinic and decided that he would just ask inside for some antiseptic, but when he explained to the nurse why he needed it, the nurse became conserned and said he better have the doctor look at his cut.  Of course, the cut was infected and the doctor needed to “open” it up to get the infection out.  Most of you who know Steve, know that he cannot handle anything remotely due to blood or doctors or wounds, etc.  So, the minute the doctor began working on him, he became sweaty and dizzy and asked her if he could lay down awhile.  So, the doctor made him lay down on the sofa in the waiting room so that he didn’t pass out.  She was able to clean up his cut, which was actually a hole in the bottom of his toe about 1/8 inch deep, bandage him, and send him on his way…all for less then 4 U.S. dollars.  Amazing what third world health care can do.  His cut was almost healed within a few days. 

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Rockclimbing in Railey

January 24th, 2008

img_3332.jpgimg_3344.jpgimg_3275.jpgAfter 10 days in Malaysia doing nothing but eating, we decided we better get some exercise before things got out of hand. Railey beach, Thailand was the perfect call and a great place to spend my 35th birthday. We took a longtail boat (think large canoe with a car engine strapped on the back.) out to Railey beach (which is near Krabi but the cliffs make it it unnaccesible by car). We got really lucky and scored a great little bungalo for a cheap price. Our first mode of business was getting signed up for an all day rock climbing course and then go explore the beaches. I won’t even get into describing the beaches, they are just too beautiful that even our pictures barely do it justice. It’s what you imagine Thailand to be, huge cliffs plunging down into blue water, soft white sand, etc. Railey is a great place for active people since there is a lot to do besides hanging out on the beach. Theres kayaking on the ocean through many caves, hiking, scuba diving and of course rock climbing.

Christy was a little aprehensive on rock climbing but like a true trooper, she wanted to give it a go. We followed our guide to our first climb thinking it would be something like a steep hill. NOt quite, this was a shear cliff. Not sure how this qualified as “beginner” but oh well, “when in thailand…”  After climbing up the cliff side a couple of feet, Christy said “that’s it, I’m done, hate it, never want to do  it again, I’m freaked out and scared of heights.”  Being the understanding husband that I am, and also not wanting to get my head chewed off, I said “ok, no prob, we’ll take your gear back and you can hang out on the beach.” Luckily we had a wonderful guide who convinced her to give it one more go. She reluctantaly said OK and went for it. When she repelled down, I could see a big smile on her face and knew she was good to go. The rest of the day we climbed crazy cliffs and had an awesome yet exhausting time. I could barely hold a bannana lassi in my hand that night.

On January 10th, my birthday, I decided that I wanted to take things nice and mellow and relax on the beach. On the way to the beach we saw a trail that lead up into the mountain. “Lets see where that goes” I said. Well, our relaxing day was no longer and we were hiking up a huge rock face which eventually lead to great views of the whole bay and to a hidden lagoon. It was an amazing view and a very scary decent down to the lagoon. That night, as we had dinner celebrating my birthday Christy said “I feel bad, we didn’t do anything special for your birthday today.” I think this girl might be a little jaded after traveling for 5 months, spending the day hiking and hanging out on a beautiful beach in Thailand is just another ordinary day.

One of the main advantages of traveling with no itinerary is you can change your program when something good is presented to you. We were planning on leaving the day after my birthday but when our new friends from Alaska that we met at the rock climbing school invited us to go climbing with them and then have dinner at their house, we decided to stay another day. Can’t pass up an offer like that. So we spent the day rock climbing and then finished it off with a great meal prepared by a Thai chef in a beautiful house tucked right up against the cliffs of Railey. A perfect end to a great week at one of our favorite beaches yet.

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New Years Eve, Asian Style

January 18th, 2008


We got really lucky on New Year’s Eve-we found out that the hostel where we were staying was on the very street that they would be closed off for all the New Year’s festivities. They said it was kind of like a mini Times Square with everyone packing into the street to do the big countdown to midnight. So that evening, we put on our finest clothes (that means Christy wore her one skirt and I wore my one button down shirt, yes we are getting very tired of wearing the same clothes for the past 5 months) and headed out for the fun. We had dinner overlooking the main square where people were packing in and they had a great Malaysian band playing. After dinner we headed down and got right in the thick of the crowd. We seemed to be the only white people in the whole area but people treated us great. Everyone had canisters of shaving cream and silly string they were spraying at each other. The teenagers went wild with the stuff and would just cover any one passing by in the stuff. It was so neat because Malaysia is predominantly Muslim, so almost no one was drinking alcohol, which helped keep things under control. I decided that we needed to join in on the fun and bought some cans of shaving cream. When I came back Christy said “This may be another very dumb thing that you have done” I didn’t quite understand what she meant until I looked around and saw everyone around us staring at us.  They somehow knew I had a couple of spray cans and they were armed with theirs in case of retaliation. The deal was, if you didn’t have a spray bottle you were almost safe, but if you did, you were a target for anyone else to unleash their spray on you. And what a great way to start off the New Year than to completely annihilate two whities from America. As soon as I figured it all out (ok, I’m the slower one in this relationship) it was too late and we were being blasted from all sides by this shaving cream goo. We tried to fight back but it was no use, there were too many of them and not enough of us. After they emptied there bottles on us, they all said “HAPPY NEW YEAR.”  Another classic moment, seeing Christy standing there with white foam all over her saying “see you bozo, i told you.”

After a few beers and listening to a great band we decided it was time to do what we did best, go eat more food.  So at 1 am we went to just grab a quick bite at one of the  infamous hawker stands. Before we knew it, we had ordered a whole meal as big as our first dinner. So we started the new year off great by eating 2 dinners in one night, which probably means we will spend 2008 overweight. It was definitely a New Years Eve we won’t forget.

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A reverse culture shock, arriving in Malaysia

January 18th, 2008


We werent even planning on going to Malaysia until we decided we had seen enough of Africa and called our travel agency to change the date of our flight out of Africa.  We then  found out every flight to Bangkok was booked, so our only alternative was to fly somewhere else. The travel agent said he could get us to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia so we said, “sounds good, lets go” We quickly read up on Malaysia and were excited about the new country on our itinerary. When we arrived at the airport we were blown away by how nice everything was. Mind you, we had just spent two months in Africa, so a paved road seems pretty damn extravagant to us at this point. There was a monorail from the airport that jetted us off to the city centre and before we knew it we were at our hotel surrounded by huge skyscrapers. After traveling for 28 hours all we wanted was a bed and we were out before midnight. The next morning we woke up and Christy looked at her watch and almost freaked out. It was almost noon. We had slept for almost 12 hours! I guess we were pretty tired.

We read in the books that the food in Malaysia is some of the best in the world so we went straight to it and started what would be a 4 day eating binge in Kuala Lumpur. I am not joking, the food alone is worth going to Malaysia! They have what they call Hawker stands all over the city. These are basically little carts and each one specializes in a certain type of food or drink. One cart might have springrolls, the other cart has noodles, the next has freshly squeezed juices and so on. The stands will be lined up for a whole block and we would just walk, see something that looked good, eat it and continue on. It also doesn’t hurt that its sooo cheap. Most things cost between a quarter and fifty cents so you could eat all day for about 5-8 dollars a person. There were areas where it was mostly Indian dishes and then you would go to another area where there was Chinese and dim sum, a few blocks later you would be eating Thai food, and then some areas were just a crazy mixture of everything. If you like great food, and you like a good deal, you need to go to Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpu isn’t all about the food though.  There are great places to shop with one of the biggest outdoor Chinese markets in the country, tons of cute coffee and tea shops, the Patronas towers (not sure if I spelled that right), walking trails, butterfly farms, temples, etc.  The city was a definite highlight on our trip and to think we almost missed it!

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Out of Africa-Just in the nick of time!

January 18th, 2008

IMG_3049.JPGWe spent Christmas with our friends Anna Martina and Frank at their beach house about 20 miles south of Mombasa, Kenya. The house was a huge cabana style house tucked into the bush with a pool and a cook that just kept bringing us more and more food. I’m not going to lie, we pretty much spent 5 days eating great food and swimming lazily around the pool with a few beers in hand. By the time we finished breakfast, the cook would ask us what we wanted for lunch, and before we new it, lunch was being served. Not a bad way to spend Christmas. It was tough being away from home, especially since it was Christys first being away from her Grandma Nunny’s house for Christmas ever. On Christmas day, Christy’s only wish was to somehow call home. We were at a house in the middle of nowhere in Africa so it was a tough task. Frank told us all to jump in the car and armed with his laptop and headset, we set off to find an internet connection. After about 30 minutes of driving around with the computer on and wi fi searching, he found a connection.  We stopped the car and with the amazing technology of Skype, we called home! Here we are in the middle of nowhere and Christy can call home to America. Unfortunately, it was still 4am back in Cali so I couldn’t do the same. Anyway, it was a great holiday.

One of the great things about traveling is learning about the different cultures and Politics of a region. The day after Christmas, Christy and I were treated to one heck of a learning experience when we got into a discussion on politics in Africa.  Joining our discussion was a friend of Frank and Martina’s who just happen to be a Kenyan local.  She had a Danish boyfriend who lived in Mozambique working for a cellular phone company (that’s how Frank and Martina know them b/c they too are Danish). So we had white Europeans who live and work in Africa and a local Kenyan who had deep tribal roots to Kenya discussing African politics. Things got heated to say the least and Christy and I just sat there and listened to them for about 3 hours. We learned so much about the local’s viewpoints on things and how really screwed up things are in Africa. It was a conversation that I won’t ever forget.  Rather then get into the lengthy discussion, just ask us about it when we get home!
We booked our flight out of Africa for December 27th, not knowing that it was election day in Kenya and not knowing that there were talks of riots. We were planning on taking an 9 hour bus from Mombasa to Nairobi but after talking with the locals, they did not think it would be safe if riots broke out. They do things different in Africa for elections, you go to the polls and vote and if the person you voted for doesn’t win, you start burning things down and causing complete mayhem. After hearing about this, we decided to fly straight to the Nairobi airport so if riots did break out, we would safely be at the airport. (See Becky, I’m always thinking about the safety of your daughter). We had no problems on our travel day and after 28 hours of traveling we were relaxing in Malaysia.

Unfortunately, things did get very ugly in Kenya almost immediately after we left. Riots broke out everywhere and many people were killed because of the “rigged” election. Even the town we were staying in prior to leaving was damaged and some building were burned. We got an email from our friends who were still there and they said if we wouldn’t have left that day, we could have been stuck in Kenya for a couple of weeks. We definitely dodged a bulled there, literally and figuratively.


Lions, Elephants, and Cheetahs…Oh My!

January 18th, 2008

Most people come to Africa, go on a week safari and then head out. We had been in Africa for six weeks and had yet to see a large game animal. This was all about to change though as we left Lake Ayasi where the Hadzabe tribe lived. Seeing your first large game animal is a weird experience. We have all seen them in pictures and at the zoo, but to see one just cruising around in the wild is a strange and surreal experience. Our first was a Giraffe, we weren’t even in the national park yet and we saw one off the side of the road. After a four hour drive on a dirt road we arrived in Lake Natron which is home to millions of pink flamingos and live volcanoes. It felt like we were back in prehistoric times with a volcano going off in the distance, nobody around for as far as the eye can see and large game animals like the wildabeast all around you.

The following day we spent watching the baboons in the trees and doing a hike to a beautiful waterfall that we could swim in and cool off. While watching the baboons we were approached by three Swahili kids who are always interested in “the white man”. The main reason that they are interested is because they think all white people are made of money and they love to come asking for some. One of the boys who was 16 was very curious about us and what we were doing there. When we told him we came from America to look at the baboons and all the other animals he had a very confused look on his face.

“don’t you have baboons in America”, he asked.

“no we don’t.”

“What about elephants?

“No elephants.”

“and giraffes and hippos” he asked

“no we don’t have any of these animals in America.” I said

He was very confused. Someone who has always lived with all these animals around you ,just figured that they were everywhere in the world. He then proceeded to throw rocks at the baboons because for them they are a nuisence where for us they are a source of great amusement.

The following day we drove four more hours on an even rougher road and finally ended up at the entrance to the Serengheti park. It was a thrill to finally be at the park after 3 days of driving on dirt roads. We entered via the north entrance which is seldom visited so we had it all to ourselves. It was AWESOME, driving on a dirt road with beautiful scenery all around you and then boom, you see a huge herd of wildabeast, hundreds of them. Then you look to your right and you see water buffalo and a couple of zebra. What I didn’t expect was how beautiful the Serengheti is even without the animals, just wide open grassland and trees. My brother, always wondered why we wanted to go to Africa, “just go to the zoo its the same thing and a hell of a lot cheaper” Well, after being to both, its not the same. The Serengeti is amazing in its own right just for the shear vastness of the place. I could go on for hours about all the different encounters we had but there is one that really stands out. We left our campsite for a late afternoon drive to find some animals. Things didn’t start out to well as we got a flat in the first hour and had to have it repaired.” Then, after that we really didn’t see much at all. On our way back the sun was starting to set and the colors were amazing and our guide tells us to look out in the distance, a huge herd of elephants were coming our way. We hadn’t seen an elephant the whole time and now there were about 75 coming right towards us. We turned the car off and with nobody else around we sat and watched the herd slowly make there way past us. Some even came right up to the truck so close we could have touched them. It was one of those experiences that you will never forget. The sun setting on the Serengheti, nobody for as far as the eye can see and you’ve got elephants all around, not a bad deal.

Since doing a safari in Africa is very very expensive, we had to go the cheap route and thats camping instead of staying in the awesome lodges. The campsites are set out in the middle of the Serengheti with nothing between you and the animals. Our guide reminded us about 5 times to NOT take any type of food into the tent as the hyenas will rip the tent apart and us with it. Christy was like the food Nazi, she made sure I didn’t even have any bread crumbs on my shirt when we went to bed at night.

On the first night, I was awoken not by animals but by my wife whispering in a freaked out whisper “the animals are all around us, what do we do? my shoes are out there, will they try and eat my shoes? will they try and come in? Since I’m not a Hyena expert by any means, I decided the best thing for us to do was put in earplugs so we couldn’t hear them and go back to bed. Christy was finally able to get used to the sound of the Hyenas howling and walking around the campsite and she went back to sleep. The next morning our tent neighbor found huge water buffalo prints right by all the tents. Oh, the adventures of camping.

On our final night, we went to the Norongoro Crater and would be treating ourselves to staying in an actual hotel. After camping for nearly 2 weeks straight we were so excited. We didnt realize the place would be so nice and when we showed up all dirty and tired we definitely got some looks from the guests. One of the great things about camping is the feeling you get when you take your first shower and lay down in a nice clean bed. Who cares about the animals, we were in heaven with a shower and a bed.

The next day we did a drive in the crater and got to witness some monkeys attacking a couple of tourists who had stopped to eat lunch. The monkeys jumped on one of the people and took there food. When the guy in the group went after the monkey, the monkey turned around and started chasing him. He freaked out and ran like hell. Christy and I were in the truck laughing so hard we couldn’t talk. It was a great way to finish our Safari.

In all, our safari was definitely a highlight of our travels and something we will always remember. Our next adventure would be taking the public bus across the border to Mombasa, Kenya to stay with our friends for the holidays. And let me tell you, taking public transportation in Africa is much scarier than any animal in the Serengheti.


UPDATE…. Finally

January 17th, 2008


Weve been really busy in Southeast asia and are just now gettign to updating the blog. I just finished putting up pictures of our christmas in Kenya and our travels in Malaysia and the beaches in Thailand. We have free internet access here at our place in Chang Mai so were going to get all our travel stories updated in the coming days. Check out the pics at


Going back in time……. way way back in time

January 6th, 2008

We started our safari off not by going to see the animals straight away, but to see the Hadzabe tribe which is one of the last hunter gatherer tribes in East Africa. This means that they basically roam around out in the bush and eat whatever they can catch with bow and arrow or pick from the plants around them. They only remain in an area for a few weeks before they move on keeping in rhythm with the seasons, migrating animals, and the weather.

We camped within 10 miles of where the tribe was “stationed” at that time and the following morning we headed out with a local guide to their temporary hut site. When we arrived, the only thing we could see was a few primitive huts made out of branches and about 6 people huddled around a fire. When we walked up to their campsite, people emerged out of the other huts and came to greet us. The Hagzabe tribe doesn’t speak the national language which is Swahili, they speak there own language which involves a lot of weird clicking noises they make. They used to only wear traditional clothes of animal hide/skin and fur, but over the years have been introduced to some western style clothing so most just wore a pair of old used shorts and thats it. Some still wore traditional head pieces and the typical leather loin clothe.
The guide told us to look around and even go into their huts. We were amazed how little these people had. they slept on the ground, had no clothes besides what they wore and had…. well pretty much nothing besides their bow and arrows and a couple of small instruments they used to play music. The reason we got to the camp so early was to catch them before they went off hunting, and lucky for us, we got to go hunting with them. So we set off into the bush with 3 of them and their bow and arrows. We walked for about an hour following them as they searched around for something to kill. This part of Africa we were in is not where all the big game is, so we didn’t have to worry about coming face to face with a lion. After about an hour they heard something in a tree and high tailed after it. We completely lost them for about 15 minutes until they emerged triumphantly with their trophy-a gunnea fowl with an arrow right through the middle of it. I was really excited since i thought there was no way we would see them catch anything. And the fun was just beginning.

One of the hunters found some dried cow dung and picked it up and started crushing it into a little pile on the ground. Since we couldn’t speak a word of their language, we had no idea what they were doing. Then they grabbed a couple of sticks spun it in their hand and viola, we had smoke and then fire. They built up the fire with some twigs and then grabbed the guinnea fowl and threw it in the fire. Christy and I were just sitting there with our mouthes wide open watching a caveman experience. They burned the chickens feathers some and then took it out of the fire, plucked all the feathers ripped the thing in half with their hands and then threw it back in the fire. within a few minutes, we had some meat that would have made Colonel Sanders proud. They came over, grunted a few things to us and gave us a piece which we felt obligated to try. It was actually pretty good. They devoured the whole thing and we were then off back to camp. It was an experience we will never forget.

When we returned to camp we then were led back out with the women so they could show us how they dig up roots to eat. Not quite as exciting as the hunting, but it was still neat seeing them know exactly where to dig. The roots tasted like celery and wasn’t too bad. The crazy thing is, that is all they eat-whatever they can kill with their bow and arrow, roots and occasional berries that they find.

We finished our visit off with a dance that they did for us where the whole tribe sung a few songs while dancing in big circles. It was one hell of a National Geographic experience.

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The top of Africa…… Mt. Kiliminjaro

January 6th, 2008

We were excited and nervous about our 7 day trek to climb Mt. Kiliminjaro. From the town of Moshi, which is right next to Kili, you could see the top and it looked like a very, very long way up there-19,340 feet to be exact. The hiking crew would consist of Christy, me and another hiker from California named Kush that we had not met, but who turned out to be a really cool and fun guy. Along with the 3 of us we would have 2 guides, a cook, a waiter and 8 porters to carry everything-our packs with all our gear, food for everyone, right down to the napkins. We on the other hand would only have to carry a daypack containing our rain gear and our ready-made lunch. We would spend 7 days on the mountain, summiting on the 6th night. Six days up, and one hellish day down.

Our first 5 days were spenth hiking all day and trying to stay warm and dry at night. Unfortunately for us, we didnt get the best weather, in fact it was down right crappy weather. We would rise every morning with blue skies and cold temps. By 11 am the clouds would roll in and then it would rain for about 4 hours which happened to be exactly when we were hiking. I’ve never loved a warm sleeping bag more than on this trip. Luckily, the porters were amazing. they would prepare all the meals for us, set up camp and take everything down. Our only job was to hike, sleep and eat.

It was pretty hilarous to see the three of us.  We were all decked out in our fancy hiking gear with our treking poles and hiking boots, yet we were being passed up the mountain by the porters who wore flip-flop sandles and carried about 40 pounds of our baggage on top of their head. Even the altitude at 15,000 ft didnt faze them. One image that is burned into my head is sitting on a rock resting at 15,000 ft, eating some food as the snow was falling and watching a porter come flying past with sandles and shorts on. He cheerfully wished us hello as we shivered over our fried chicken…Really makes you feel like a wimp.

After 5 days of hiking we camped at 14,000 feet and would make our summit attempt during the middle of the night so that we could arrive at the summit at sunrise when the weather is supposed to be best. So at 11:00 pm, our guide woke us up and told us to start getting ready, it was time to head out. It was tough to get motivated knowing you had to climb 5,000 vertical feet in the pitch dark with only a tiny head lamp.  And to top it off, it was snowing. We headed up the mountain and after 3 hours, Kush our other hiker decided he had enough and headed back to camp. I think he was the smarter one of the group. Anyway, the guide, Christy and I trudged on up only able to see what our little head lamps would illuminate in front of us. I was in the back and pretty much just stared at christys shoes in front of me hour after hour one step at a time. Christy was one hell of a trooper and didn’t complain until we got to about 17,500 ft.  It was 5am, freezing cold and snowing sideways, which blasted us right in the face. We would take a few steps and then stop lean on our treking poles and try to suck in the little oxygen that was out there at such a high altitude.  At about 6am, Christy and I were exhausted leaning against our poles when she turned over to me, looked me straight in the eye through all her layers of clothes and said “THIS IS THE DUMBEST THING WE HAVE EVER DONE.” Now that’s saying quite a lot because we have done some dumb things in the past so I was worried that a mutiny might be taking place. We were only about an hour from the top and I knew I had to tread softly in order to get her to the top and not have a really pissed off wife. So after we caught our breath and warmed up little, she was ready to finish the hike and we continued on our way to the top. A few steps and then a little rest. It took us a good hour to go the final 200 yards.  At about 7am we finally made it to the top so that we could see the amazing view from 3 miles high. A view that would make all the pain and suffering worth it.  Well, as luck would have it, the mountain was socked in by the storm and we couldn’t see a damn thing except fog and snow. But, we were happy none the less for making it. So after a quick hug, a couple of pictures we were off back down the mountain where we had to go all the way down from 19,000 ft. to 9,000 ft. to the last camp site. We were exhausted.  It was an incredibly long day and we slept for 13 hours that night. The trip was one that we will never forget, one for being so tough and two for the beauty of the mountain. We went through 5 different climate zones in 6 days. Starting in a rain forest and ending on a glacier, something you don’t get to do everyday. The shower at the hotel that night was also one of the finest moments after going 7 days with nothing more than washing your hands and face and basically wearing the same clothes. We would have one night at the hotel to rest before heading out on the safari for another week of camping.

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Pemba, A Scuba Diving Paradise!

December 22nd, 2007

We still had two weeks of traveling to do before our big Kili hike and safari, so we decided we would make our way to the islands for some R&R. We left Loshoto after a short two-night stay (we were tired of the haggling and hiking was only so/so) and caught a shuttle to Tanga, a town along the coast of Tanzania. The shuttle ride was another interesting experience-a small van with about 50 unwashed passengers, some chickens, couple of baskets of fruit, etc. We were shoved into the very back row of seats with about four other people, one of them just so happen to be car sick and vomited the entire three hours. Luckily he had a plastic bag, but as he hopped off of the shuttle at his designated stop, he threw the bag of vomit on the floor which of course spilled opened and splattered all over the bottom of Christy’s back pack. Oh, the joys of public transportation in Africa.

From Tanga, an uneventful town, we booked a flight on a teeny tiny ten passenger plane to the island of Pemba. We arrived of course without any hotel reservations, etc., just a plan for scuba diving and beach relaxing. We were quickly informed that scuba diving was very costly and there weren’t many beaches on the island of Pemba, let alone resorts to stay in. There are a few shoddy guest houses and two really swank hotels that we could not afford, but Steve had done some research and found a promising scuba diving outfit that also had just built a “new resort” on one of the only stretches of beach in Pemba. So, we set off for the place known as Swahili Divers, which of course was on the complete opposite side of the island from the airport and would cost us half of the very small amount of money we brought with us just to pay the taxi. There are no ATM’s on Pemba…and no electricity for that matter, those who have it run off of generators…so we prayed Swahili Divers would take credit cards! Our taxi driver was a sweet old man who had lived on the island most of his 60 plus years and had only been off the island to visit the neighboring island of Zanzibar. That’s it. He’s never been anywhere else. Anyway, we were only a few minutes into the drive when pieces of his car, which was a decent car, started falling off. No bother, he would stop the car, throw it reverse, pick up the part, put it back on and off we went. This happened a few times with the headlight cover and finally he pounded it on so hard that the thing dented and stuck into place. The drive across the island was beautiful and all in all took around an hour and a half. We passed through one “town” along the way, which was considered the capital and that’s it. Not much happening on Pemba. Our driver had never been to Swahili Diver’s new beach location so of course didn’t know the road very well. Needless to say, he was driving entirely too fast down a dirt road and didn’t notice the huge ruts in the road, so the car essentially bottomed out and we were stuck. We then spent the next 20 minutes digging and pushing the car to get it unstuck. That’s first class traveling when you have to dig out your own hired taxi.

Swahili Divers turned out to be a God-send. We arrived without reservations which was a huge risk since accommodation on Pemba is slim to none. But, they had room for us and put us up in our own huge bungalow. The place was brand new and still being built, so not all of the kinks were worked out just yet, but it didn’t matter to us. We had a huge bed, a cool looking outdoor shower, and dinner on the table. Emma, the manager, was extremely good to us and helped us settle in nicely. She introduced us to her companion Stuart who would be our dive master for our scuba diving. Both are originally from Zimbabwe and we had some amazing and very educating discussions with both of them about their homeland. It’s incredibly sad to hear what has happened to a country that was once one of the most thriving countries in Africa.

As for the scuba diving, all I have to say is AMAZING! Probably some of the best scuba diving we have ever done. Visibility was fantastic, the coral so beautiful and bright and the numerous fish…just awesome! Swahili Divers had their very own Dhow boat, so we were never crowded or diving with people we didn’t know. It was like having an ocean all to ourselves. The only down side would be the amount of sea urchins. We always had to walk across the coral in the morning to board the boat because of the low tide, which meant stepping over sea urchins. Sometimes if the water is a little deep it’s hard to see exactly where the urchins are-they appear to be all around you since water tends to magnify things. At one point while crossing the water, Christy froze in place and shouted that she didn’t want to move because she couldn’t tell where the sea urchins where. So, I impatiently told her to hold on to my shoulder an I would guide her and I groveled that there were no sea urchins where we were walking…then I immediately stepped on one. I had about five or six quills sting the side of my ankle. Christy, however escaped unharmed and she loves to make fun of me.

Our stay on Pemba just happened to be during the Thanksgiving holiday and so we were feeling a little homesick. The staff found out that we were missing a huge turkey dinner and though they didn’t have turkeys on Pemba, they had chickens. So, for dinner, we had fried chicken and french fries. That was close enough for Steve and I, so we chowed down our “African” Thanksgiving feast. A few hours later, Christy woke up with a terrible stomach ache. She made a bee line for the bathroom where the lovely African Thanksgiving dinner decided to come back up. She was sick for hours and continued having terrible stomach cramps into the next day. There were a few other guests who also got sick…must have been the chicken. She didn’t eat much for days, even after we left Pemba and headed for Zanzibar. Still, she was able to ralley and enjoy some great scuba diving over the next couple of days.

We had a great time on Pemba, mostly due to the staff of Swahili Divers. They made us feel like we were old friends and we have some great memories thanks to them!

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