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Ascending to the Roof of Africa

Gore-Tex presents Experience More, August 2015

Trekking to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro’s Marangu Route isn’t as easy as it seems. (Gore-Tex presents Experience More, August 2015)

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ENTRIES FROM THE GLOBAL TRIP BLOG CHRONICLES

Racing The Sun To Tanzania

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted April 29, 2004

DAY 191:  My goal of the day was to make it to the southern Tanzanian city of Mbeya, 120 km. north of the Malawian/Tanzanian border.  I questioned whether or not I would make it before the sun went down so that I wouldn’t arrive in the uncertainties of darkness.  Anel, who had made her way down from the north, said I’d make it to Tanzania’s border by nightfall, but not Mbeya.  Frank said I’d make it by 7:30 at night, but not to worry because a nice hotel was just across the street from the Mbeya bus terminal and that I wouldn’t have to stray too far at night to find it.  I supposed that was the worst case scenario, but I still tried to make the effort to get there before the sun beat me to it.

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Mad Dash to Dar

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted April 29, 2004

DAY 192:  Before the sun was awake, I was awaken around five in the morning by the chants and Muslim prayers coming from two different sets of loudspeakers from what I gathered were in two points of town, one somewhat far away (but still audible) and one right across the street because it was blaring through my window and into my hotel room.

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Tomorrow in Tanzania

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 11, 2004

DAY 193:  For most of my days on The Global Trip 2004, I often wonder what the next day will bring.  While some people need to plan a long way in advance and know what they’ll do the next day — or even the next week or next year(!) — it’s somewhat refreshing not to know what the future holds until it becomes the present.  People have asked me, “Erik, what are you going to do when you get back home?”  The reply is always the same:  “I don’t know.  I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow.”

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And We Clik!

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 11, 2004

DAY 194:  Peter, also known as Goba, a Tanzanian rastafarian I met in Nkhata Bay, Malawi, referred me to the Tin Tin Tours agency in Moshi, Tanzania.  Although he didn’t have one of their business cards with him, he wrote some information on the back of another to show them that I was:

from Goba — Nkhata Bay
And we clik!
[sic]


(It may be of note that the only reason why we clicked was because I had a brief conversation with him over lunch about rapper 50 Cent.)

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Cashless.

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 11, 2004

DAY 195:  On Easter weekend, I found myself stranded in Livingstone, Zambia without any money because all the in-town ATMs only accepted Visa/Plus/Electron-based bank cards and my Citibank ATM card was on the MasterCard/Cirrus/Maestro network.  It’s true what the Visa company says in their ad campaign:  Visa.  It’s everywhere you want to be.  (However, I’m told MasterCard is accepted in more places than Visa in Southeast Asia.)

Of course I found myself stranded in another NMCZ (No MasterCard Zone) and on another bank holiday too; the first of May is Labour Day in most countries around the world.

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Harder Than They Say

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 11, 2004

DAY 196:  Mount Kilimanjaro, known locally as “Mt. Kili” or just “Kili,” contains the African continent’s highest peak at 19,338 ft. (5896 m.) ASL.  Some guy at the Tanzanian National Parks Department with a penchant for superlatives also boasts it is the “world’s highest free standing mountain” since it isn’t a part of any major mountain range.

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Into Thin Air

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 11, 2004

DAY 197:  In 2001, Blogreader oogy and I hiked the Inca Trail in Peru to the archaeological site of Machu Picchu, high up in the Andes Mountain Range.  This four-day trail took us to altitudes of just over 13,000 ft. (4000 m.) ASL, but we already started feeling the nausea and head pains of altitude sickness around 12,500 ft. (3750 m.) ASL. 

On Day Three of my Kilimanjaro trek up the Marangu Route, I would ascend into the thin airs of 15,520 ft. (4750 m.) ASL, the highest I had ever been to that date.

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Surviving Kilimanjaro

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 11, 2004

DAY 198:  Perhaps it was Ernest Hemingway’s classic novella The Snows of Kilimanjaro that spawned the popularity of trekking the African mountain; each year hundreds of tourists flock to Tanzania with plans to “conquer Kili.”  However, the mountain that Hemingway glorified through prose is not without its dangers.  According to my guide Jimmy, in the first four months of 2004 three people died in attempts of reaching Uhuru Peak, its highest summit.  In 2003, Kili claimed six, three of which were porters.  Kili knows no nationalities and takes its toll on locals as well.

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The Path Of The Other Coin

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 11, 2004

DAY 199: On Day 193: Tomorrow in Tanzania, it was up in the air where I would go after Dar-es-Salaam.  I had boiled down my plethora of options to just two:  1) go to the touristic town of Arusha and organize a trek and safari combo with a Mr. Jalala of Kilimanjaro Crown Tours (recommended by fellow travelers Frank, Francesca and Yvonne in Nkhata Bay, Malawi); or 2) go to the smaller town of Moshi to meet American expatriate Tony (referred to by Cristina in Lusaka, Zambia) and organize a trek/safari with Tin Tin Tours (recommended to me not by a fellow traveler, but a Tanzanian rasta named Goba).  In the end, it boiled down to a simple toss-up and rather than just flip a coin, I played the laws of probability in a more mystical way.  Like randomly picking one of two stones out of my pocket as done in the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, I blindly picked one of two coins — a Malawian and a Tanzanian — the former representing Moshi, the latter for Arusha.

Malawi came up and my path from there was decided.  But little did I know at the time that the path of one would lead me right back to the path of the other one.

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Modern Maasai

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 11, 2004

DAY 200:  You may have seen footage of the Maasai tribal people of eastern Africa in movies or documentaries.  These people of the Tanzanian-Kenyan border region have maintained their cultural identity for centuries, often seen wearing red cloaks known as shukas, holding big staffs to lead a herd of cattle, or jumping up and down as high as they can in what looks like a contest.  The Maasai are best distinguished by their jewelry and ornamentation in their “self-deformation” of the body:  elongated or torn ear lobes and stretched out lips.

While these images are true to life, they aren’t the only way the Maasai people live.  Like many other “primitive” tribes in the world, people have learned to adapt to modern society.

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Crater Of Life

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 11, 2004

DAY 201:  Two million years ago, lava erupted from a hole in the earth’s crust in what would later be known as Tanzania.  The lava spewed out and cooled, layer after layer until a big volcano was formed, just east of what would later be known as the Serengeti.  Over time, the eruptions ceased and the volcano collapsed, leaving a huge crater in the earth where plant life flourished, providing food for the lives of all the African animals that climbed up over the rim and inside.  These herbivores attracted carnivores and thus, a self-sustaining “crater of life” was born.  Known as the Ngorongoro Crater, this self-contained biosphere was formed in an area that would later been known as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, coincidentally where 2003’s Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life was filmed. 

The term “ngorongoro” is a Maasai onomatopoeic word for the ringing of a cow’s bell — the Maasai are permitted by the Tanzaznian government to graze their cattle within its bounderies — although I really don’t get how they got “ngoro” after hearing the rings from under a cow’s neck.

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Stranded in the Serengeti

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 11, 2004

DAY 202:  The Serengeti, the vast grassland measuring over 9,100 square miles (over 14,700 sq. km.) in the northwest of Tanzania, is home to a multitude of mammals, reptiles, birds and insects all living in a grand circle of life.  The name “Serengeti” is derived from the Maasai term siringet, which means “land of endless space.”  Nothing accentuates the feeling of endlessness of the Serengeti than being stranded in it for an unforeseen amount of time.

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Migration

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 12, 2004

DAY 203:  Every year, the wildebeests (a.k.a. gnus) of the Serengeti plain migrate back and forth between Tanzania and Kenya, following the rains that grow the grass they require for survival.  The month of May being the rainy season in Tanzania, all the wildebeests were around feeding; they would remain until mid-June when the grasses dry up before heading up north to greener pastures.

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Straight From The Source

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 12, 2004

DAY 204:  Lake Victoria, Africa’s biggest (and the world’s second largest) lake, encompasses over 42,000 square miles (68,800 sq. km.) within the boundaries of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.  With the force of gravity, its millions of gallons of freshwater flow northward all the way to the Mediterranean Sea on a mighty river called the Nile.

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The Man And The Refrigerator

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 12, 2004

DAY 205:  “Wow, I haven’t seen one of these in a while,” I said to Tony in the kitchen as he made his morning coffee before going to work.  I went to get some milk.

“What, a refrigerator?”

“Yeah.”

After being on a non-stop tour for ten days in a row in the wilds of Africa, climbing mountains and going on safari, it was nice to come back to the conveniences of modern life.

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The Ultimate Day

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 12, 2004

DAY 206:  In the morning I had no plans to do much in and around Tony and Ted’s apartment while they were away at work (Ted was feeling better, so he went in too) other than continue to catch up on Blog duties.  Little did I know then that the day would be an “ultimate” day.

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Apologies and Farewells

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 14, 2004

DAY 207:  “How was your safari?” Jimmy, my Kilimanjaro guide asked when I ran into him on the road when walking around Moshi town to run errands.

“Oh…” I groaned with a smile.  “It was… memorable.”  I told him about the whole fiasco, how the first two days were great and then the next three turned into a safari from hell.  I told him how unprofessional it was conducted, from the faulty vehicle to the somewhat shady guide.  Although Jimmy wasn’t directly involved with the safari, he apologized on behalf of Tin Tin Tours, the Moshi-based company that had sent me to the Arusha-based Kilimanjaro Crown Tours when they didn’t have enough clients to warrant a cost-effective safari group themselves.

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The Zanzibar Connection

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 16, 2004

DAY 208:  I suppose a lot more good things came out of the mugging at knifepoint in Cape Town than bad ones.  Ever since the incident, my itinerary had been sent on a tangeant that led me to connections I might not have made if nothing happened.  The mugging led to flight cancellations, which led to going overland through Zambia, which led to Shelle, which led to Cristina, which led to Tony, which led to one connection no one could have predicted in Zanzibar.

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Street Boys

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 20, 2004

DAY 209:  The touts of Stone Town usually hang around the main ferry port area where tourists come and go on the two-hour ferry ride to and from mainland Dar-es-Salaam.  Most of these touts, which Willie refers to as “Street Boys,” are good-for-nothing drug addicts usually strung out on crack cocaine, desperately using a facade of charm or friendliness to score any cash from unsuspecting tourists with bogus tours.  A suspecting tourist can usually tell a Street Boy a block away; they often just look all drugged out, or they reek of booze, and they look all disheveled like they just got out of bed.  Street Boys make Stone Town look more like “Stoned Town,” and I’m sure any suspecting reader might have seen that pun a mile away.

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Dolphins, Monkeys and Queen

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 20, 2004

DAY 210:  A German ex-pat named Thomas living and doing PhD. research in the other main Zanzibar island of Pemba was sitting in the back seat of a minivan.  With him was only his visiting friend Volker from their hometown of Heidelburg, until I arrived.  The three of us had signed up for the Dolphin Tour from different tour agencies, but it being the low season, we had been pooled together for efficiency.  Our driver and guide drove us to the south east of Unguja Island for the beginning of a day full of Dolphins, Monkeys and Queen.

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Spice Island

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 20, 2004

DAY 211:  What would the world be like without spices?  For one, Colonel Sanders and his Kentucky Fried Chicken would have eleven less ingredients to put in his secret recipe and probably be out of business.  TV chef Emeril Lagasse probably wouldn’t have a career involving yelling the word “BAM!” and would probably be a janitor somewhere.  And you could forget about going out for Thai food entirely.  (God forbid!)  In short, a world without spices would be a pretty boring and bland world.

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The Things Up North

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 22, 2004

DAY 212:  When Kazim took us to the beach as part of the Spice Tour the day before, there were two British guys that refused to go in the water.  Their reason:  they had spent some days up at the beaches in the north and after that considered anything else inferior.  I, along with Jess, the American girl I also met on the Spice Tour, was soon to find out what all this hype about the north was all about.

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Kendwa’d Without Ken

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 22, 2004

DAY 213:  The Mnemba Atoll, the coral reef and island pair off the northeast coast of Zanzibar’s Unguja Island, is arguably one of the world’s premiere scuba diving destinations, sporting an impressive display of tropical marine life.  Most people have come to the atoll with scuba gear to see just what beauty lies beneath, although some privileged people — i.e. “missing” Enron corporate criminal Kenneth Lay — have been rumored to hide out at Mnemba Island, the privatized part of the Mnemba Atoll which costs $1200 per night (in embezzled money from government funds of course).

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Caught Up In Stone Town

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 22, 2004

DAY 214:  The north coast of Unguja Island, Zanzibar is the kind of place you go and sort of realize, “Hey, I think I might just live here and do nothing.”  While that idea was promising, it was detrimental to my plan of writing a blog around the world.  Realizing that I couldn’t stay forever in Kendwa, I figured the dread of leaving it all was as inevitable as being Kendwa’d, and that I might as well rip off Kendwa from my soul like a band-aid on a wound.

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Closure In Tanzania

From the trip blog: "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World"
Posted May 22, 2004

DAY 215:  My plan for the day was to continue to stay in my room, chill out and work on the arduous task of writing, but little did I know when I woke up that morning that one event would send me off track, making it my last day in Tanzania.

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ABOUT ERIK R. TRINIDAD

When he’s not making a living as an interactive/motion designer or playing with fast food, Erik R. Trinidad is a travel writer, blogger, video host and producer focusing on adventure and culinary content. His work has been featured on National Geographic Intelligent Travel, Adventure.com, Discovery.com, Saveur, Condé Nast Traveler, and Hyenas Laughed at Me and Now I Know Why, which also includes the work of Tim Cahill, Doug Lansky, Jennifer Leo and Rolf Potts. He has also referenced his travel experiences in his solo book, Fancy Fast Food: Ironic Recipes with No Bun Intended.

For over ten years, Erik has traveled to the seven continents of the world — from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo — with a curiosity for exotic foods and a thirst for adventure (and writing material).  In his travels, he has been mugged at knifepoint in Cape Town, extorted by corrupt Russian police on the Trans-Siberian Railway, stranded in tornadic storms in the American midwest, and air-lifted off the Everest Trail by a helicopter that was thankfully paid for by his travel insurance.  But it hasn’t been all fun; he has also donned a tuxedo amidst the penguins of Antarctica, paraded with Carnival-winning samba school Beija Flor in Rio, run for his life at Pamplona’s “Running of the Bulls,” cage-dived with great white sharks, gotten shot point-blank in the stomach in Colombia (while wearing a bulletproof jacket), and above all, encountered many people around the world, including some Peruvian musicians in Cuzco who learned and played “Y.M.C.A.” at his request. He loves the irony that, after everywhere he’s been, he has never been to Mexico.

Erik writes stories and news articles when he’s at his base camp in New York City, and continues his blog when he is on the road — provided he’s not occupied tracking down lost luggage.

Additional news/article clippings at ErikTrinidad.com.



See Erik talk about travel in an American Express ad:



Read about Erik in this feature article from Filipinas magazine by National Geographic Traveler Associate Editor Amy Alipio.



The views and opinions written on The Global Trip blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official views and opinions of the any affiliated publications.
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