Friday, April 20, 2007

True Story

So apparently I need to clarify. Yes, I am in fact going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Literally.

Perhaps a little explanation will help. For those of you who don't know, post-bar exam trips are quite commonplace for those among us who've sold our souls and best years of our young lives to giant law firms and the clients who pay them. It works like this. I'll spend May through July preparing for and then taking (up the ass) the Illinois bar exam. Thereafter, I have approximately two months to travel before I start work. It is, quite simply, my last, best chance to do something crazy before I buckle down for a couple years (in theory). It's kinda like the summer before law school but with money.

Many of my friends are doing some pretty cool things. For instance, three guys are riding the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok (with extensions from St. Petersburg and to Hong Kong). Others are going to India, the Middle East, and New Zealand, while most everyone else is will spend their remaining days of freedom in Europe. And two girls (two of my personal heroines) spent five months this year past trekking through Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and South America after their bar exam. And to boot, their adventures aren't even over. One's at a legal aid clinic in Argentina while the other is stationed in London.

Anyway, I'd been struggling to come up with a trip that was suitably exciting and worthy of my bar trip rite of passage. I just spent several months in Europe, so I didn't much want to go back right away, and I also wasn't having much luck finding friends with whom to travel. I needed something big. Something crazy. Something unique. And something about which I could get genuinely excited. As much as I love Europe, it doesn't stir my blood quite like it used to. After all, weekend trips to Paris are possible. Weekend trips to the far corners of Earth are not.

For some time, I was thinking Bali or Fiji or some other tropical paradise. Then, I got an email through my university's alumni association advertising a climb up Kilimanjaro. I usually discard association emails without much thought, but this one obviously caught my eye. To be honest, it took no more than two minutes before I decided to go. Nonetheless, I still had to research the idea and iron out a few kinks before committing. There are several operators that run treks up the mountain, so I had find the right one. Lots of Googling and a few phone calls later, and now I'm all booked up.

Of course, I'm not just trekking Kilimanjaro. I've currently committed to the climb (six days, from September 2-9) and a week-long safari thereafter (September 9-16) that includes trips to Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro National Park, and Olduvai Gorge. For extensions, I'm looking into a few days on the beaches of Zanzibar, as well as a three or four day excursion to track chimpanzees through either Gombe Stream NP or Mahale NP. Other ideas I've kicked around (emphasis on 'kicked') include Victoria Falls, the Greek Islands, Cairo, and South Africa. Any thoughts? Suggestions would be *greatly* appreciated.

But that's the short long of it. With a new adventure comes new blog fodder. With luck, you'll see some pretty cool pictures of Africa right here around the first of October.

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