October 10-12, 2015 – Back to FAME at last…


Back to FAME at last….

I realized that I had forgotten to include the wonderful little ceremony that took place on our last morning of the Kilimanjaro climb. Following breakfast, our entire support crew assembled in front of the mess tent along with the five of us. Traditionally, tips are given to each member based on their job in addition to any distinguishing service they may have provided. It is also traditional for climbers to give some of their spare or non-essential gear to members of the crew as a sign of how well they did taking care of us. We had all brought our gear into the mess tent and divided it up so that each porter would get something and we also set aside individually tips that we wanted to present members with for a specific service they provided. I said a few words to let everyone know what an awesome time we had and then one by one we handed each of them their gift from us and shook hands or hugged. It had been a tough climb that would never have been possible without them.

After the gifts were handed out, all the porters and guides performed a song about Kilimanjaro for us that included our names and was wonderful to watch and hear.

We all spent the night at my friends home and began our slow recovery back to the present. The following day (Saturday, October 10), I dropped Danielle and Lindsay off at the Arusha airport as they were flying to Zanzibar and then my brother and nephew later that evening at the larger Kilimanjaro International Airport for their return trip home. The following day, Ali and Fima, newlyweds who had been honeymooning in Zanzibar, arrived into the Arusha airport and spent the night at Pendo’s as well, with plans for early departure the following day (Monday) for FAME.

We had all finished breakfast and were preparing to depart when I heard some rustling from the bathroom around the corner. I got up to investigate and then heard a distinct knocking only to find Fima locked in the bathroom! The handle was no longer releasing the latch and he was trapped behind a wooden door with the only other opening being a heavily barred window. There was literally no escape from the bathroom without destroying the door, something that we were very reluctant to do. We began by unscrewing the door latches which ended up helping somewhat, but the door still didn’t release. The hinge pins were impossible to tap out and even it they had been easier, there was no clearance to pull the door forward. Thankfully, Fima made one last try at the door latch and this time he was able to pry it loose and extricate himself. The ordeal was over and other than a little PTSD, Fima is no worse for the wear on this one.

We made our journey west to FAME over the new roads that are so much quicker than the old and arrived in time for my favorite lunch, rice and beans. It feels so good to be back here, my second home, and a place of so many miracles. We visited a 26 week premature Masaai baby born by C-section as his mother had eclampsia. Unfortunately, she is not back to normal neurologically and will be one of our first consults waiting for us in the morning. Before Ali and Fima’s orientation tour was over, though, we were called into service for the head of the local police who was brought in after having a severe headache and then becoming agitated and confused with very high blood pressure. His exam was suggestive of an intracranial bleed and he was transferred to Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center for a CT scan and management. Soon we’ll have our own scanner here at FAME.

Danielle and Lindsay arrived from Zanzibar and we are now waiting only for Thu and Cara to arrive tomorrow from Arusha and we will have our entire neuro team here ready for work.

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