My name is Lynn Anderson and I just recently climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with your organization, Tusker Trail, on February 5th, with summit on February 14, 2011.
I heard about Tusker Trail several years ago when I mentioned to one of my customers that I wanted to climb Kilimanjaro…What a surprise because her husband was getting ready to do it! He brought me all his information and when he returned home from his trip, his comment was “Tusker is the ONLY organization worth checking into”. I was sold.
When I turned 60 years of age, I started spreading the word that I wanted to do the climb before I turned 65 – well, I could not find anyone willing to make the adventure with me – not even my husband of 41 years. Finally, a friend of mine, Jasper Mersereau said he would accompany me. I turned 66 this past November and by then the money was paid and I was so excited about my journey.
My first contact with Tusker was with Mariya Porten, our Trekking Coordinator. I cannot speak highly enough of her abilities. My husband was very nervous about my making the trip, so he had Mariya on the phone quite often with many questions – she had a quick answer for him every time. Thanks to Mariya, he was able to hug me goodbye without fear that I would get lost and never come back home. She is an outstanding asset to your organization – in our opinion.
Your organization gave me the physical and spiritual journey of a lifetime – no words can adequately express what I feel in my heart and soul. Our guides were Nemes and Shabanie – outstanding leadership – great organizational skills – the Tusker/Kilimanjaro bracelet has not come off my arm – the family atmosphere carried from Nemes and Shabanie right down through the porters – you felt it everywhere. I fell asleep each night and awoke each morning to the sound of laughter and joyful Swahali language. I watched in awe as the porters broke down camp so efficiently and how they carried our tusker bags and their own gear on their heads up the mountain as though they were carrying a bag of feathers.
Magnus, our cook – Outstanding what he created in a tent – the freshness of the fruit he served us was incredible – the amount of fresh vegetables – loved every soup he created – had no idea we would be feed so well…thank you, thank you!
Reagan – Always made sure we had hot water, soap and scrub brush morning and night – LOVED seeing him every morning – always made sure there was water for our bladders/bottles – so helpful making sure mine was done just right.
Bofas, our waiter – Food arrived very quickly each meal time – hot and ready to eat…loved when he brought the table lamp/heater in – made our tent so cozy. Always had a smile for us.
Antonio – Carried my backpack up to the summit on the 14th – he was a SAINT – I had my clothes, gloves, etc. off and on and off and on – carried all my water – even let me lean my head on his back during a rest time – all he did was SMILE.
Nemes – Very concerned about our medical health – patient – I would drag in the back of the pack taking pictures or looking around at the foliage, rocks, etc. – never felt a rush to get moving from him – important for us to enjoy the journey that we were taking… enjoyed hearing the stories of his career with Tusker and his family…very knowledgeable about his job and what we needed to do each day to stay safe…. pole, pole – drink – eat!!!!
Shabanie – I still, after being home for 10 days, cannot speak about Shabanie without getting tears in my eyes. I have never known a Muslim before meeting Shabanie. He has been my first and I am not sure there is a better example. I believe that God sent him to me as a “spiritual guardian angel”. I always felt his presence – whenever I accomplished something challenging, he was right there praising me and calling me “Mumma” – loved his story about the respect for mothers. About an hour before the summit, he put his hands on my shoulders and said, “You’re gonna make it to the summit, Mumma” – I put my forehead against his head and said “Are you sure?”…His answer was “100 % sure.”
On the way down the mountain – about an hour or so until we ended the journey – we saw two young boys asking for chocolate – I did not have any but I asked Shabanie if I could give them a couple of dollars each – he said NO, keep walking. After a few minutes, he asked me if I wanted to know why. Of course I did. His answer was: “Those boys should be in school and you destroy my country by teaching those boys to beg instead of getting an education – my Africa will not survive without education.” Boy, what a light bulb moment for me – an American with dollars wanted to solve a situation but was really creating a larger problem. I will never forget that. He thanked us many times for coming to his country to climb his mountain because without us, they would not have jobs. He is a remarkable man with a gentle/generous spirit and a smile that lights everything around him.
I coach the novice runners training for the Richmond, Virginia marathon through Sports Backers Organization – this coming season will be our 10th year. From day one, I tell my runners that the training is the journey, with the goal being to cross the finish line. To me, the journey is the finish line – what you learn about yourself – your ability to handle your disappointments and your success along the way – the friendships you create along the way. Your organization created such a journey for me. As in the poem, Ithaca, you did not defraud me.
Our last morning on the mountain, Nemes and Shabanie said they had a surprise for us – Oh my, did they! We watched as the porters and guides gathered around to serenade
us with songs and amusing dances – we were invited to join in and we had a blast – my eyes filled with tears as I watched the magic and rhythm of their voices and bodies create a memory that will never leave me. I hope that one day my path will have an opportunity to use Tusker Trail again.
You are a very lucky man to have employees that have such wonderful work ethics, smiles that never end, laughter that is contagious and a sense of humor – Nemes and Shabanie pulled a really good joke on me our last morning in camp about my love of collecting rocks!!!!!!
Everyone I am in contact with knows the name – TUSKER TRAIL!!!!!!!! Africa is a fascinating place and I look forward to my next trip.