I leave for Africa in NINE days. That means you have to listen to me prattle on about how excited I am for NINE DAYS. But come on, if a genie popped out of a lamp and said, “look, I’m a little restricted on what I can give you but if I send you back to Tanzania to help out some donkeys for a week would that be cool?” I would pretty much throw myself into his discorporeal arms and breathlessly exclaim that this was EXACTLY what I would have wished for. So yes, I’m excited.
I’m also nervous, because before I work on the donkeys I’m climbing Mt. Meru with the World Vets team leader. I don’t want to disappoint her by developing altitude sickness, breaking my ankle, or dying, all things that are pretty much out of my control. Having never done something like climb a 14,000 peak with a group of strangers in a third world country, I’ve decided it’s best not to think too much about what I’ve committed myself to and just going for it. One day, when I am old, I hope to add this to the long list of things I was too stupid to realize they were insane to attempt at the time. Really, that’s how I ended up in vet school, and in the end that worked out OK, so I’m assuming this will too. Endless optimism.
But in the meantime, I’m doing what I can to be adequately prepared. I have about 14 prescriptions, spent more at REI than I care to admit in pursuit of the optimal day pack setup, and I’ve been running up and down Iron Mountain at every opportunity to try and get used to climbing.
About halfway up today, I realized that I am now within the infamous two week “watch it” window. The window in which, if you fall and sprain your ankle, you’ve just ruined your trip. So I paused, panicked, and spent the rest of the hike gingerly goose-stepping my way up the trail in order to avoid any risk of injury.
Which actually worked out well for me, since it gave me plenty of opportunity to take in the sights. Hawks soaring overhead. Geckos skittering underfoot. I see at least 10 geckos every time I hike. This guy was basking at the summit.
But today, as I was strolling down the hill, a squat, roundish ankylosaur descendant ambled across my path and perched on the side of the trail, waiting for me to pass. I’d never seen one like him before. He was quite obvious on the pale dirt of the exposed trail, but on the rocks, his camouflage was fantastic.
See? Cute, huh?
Since I was in no rush, I took a bunch of pictures, holding Brody to my side and letting the other hikers pass without sharing what I was looking at. I think these guys can squirt blood out of their eyeballs and I figured that might put a damper on their hike.
What do you think he is? Some variation of horned lizard? Anyone know if this is a harbinger of a tremendous adventure or some ill portent?