Monday, March 10, 2008

Going To The Mountain Top...

Mt.Meru: Sunrise on Rhino Point...Beautiful!

More on my trip to Tanzania...

It is said that Afrika is the birthplace of everything and many of us would agree without ever having step foot on the continent AND when you get there you see the truth of this statement everywhere you go...I saw the face of my grandfather in the face of an elder in Ethiopia. I saw a long ago college friend's face in the face of a brotha helping me in the market place in Zanzibar. I saw flowers that looked related to Yarrow. I smelled spices that reminded me of my mother's sweet potato pie - I could go on....

The journey to climb Mt.Meru was the first part of my trip. Mt.Meru is the second tallest mountain (actually a volcano) on the continent of Afrika. It was once taller than Kilimanjaro until it erupted in 1906 - curiously the same year San Francisco, California had its famous 1906 Earthquake. Mt.Meru is called the Spirit Mountain by the people of the area called the WaMeru "people of Meru". One of my travel companions Caroline Shola Arewa, the author of the book Opening To Spirit: Contacting The Healing Power of the Chakras & Honoring African Spirituality wrote in her book of Mt.Meru before ever visiting this sacred, ancient place. She told me of her discovery of Mt.Meru in some ancient text. She spoke of looking for this "mythical" place thinking it must be a real place on earth. She said through a student she discovered that Mt. Meru was indeed a "real" place in Tanzania. In the first part of her book she provides the excerpt of this text:

In your body is Mount Meru encircled by the seven continents;
the rivers are there too, the seas, the mountains, the plains,
and the Gods of the fields.
Prophets are to be seen in it, monks, places of pilgrimage
and the deities presiding over them.
The stars are there and the planets, and the sun together with the moon;
and all the elements: ether, air and fire, water and earth.
Yes in your body are all things that exist in the three worlds,
all performing their prescribed functions around Mount Meru;
he alone who knows this is said to be a true Yogi.
Siva Samhita 2, 1:5

Picture: Looking out at Kilimanjaro from Mt.Meru

When we arrived at Mt.Meru I got the distinct feeling that I was at the FEET OF THE MASTER. I could feel the ancient breath of this old Mother of Mothers encircle me with kiss that said "Welcome home." My eyes are even tearing the memory of this place. I believe Mt.Meru is the Great Great Grandmother of us All - she is where all life started and continues...underneath her skin of earth runs a hot molten of energy that feeds the core of this earth. I visualized this core running through me and infusing me the day before I set out to climb to her peaks.
Mt.Meru is not a tame mountain - she is very much alive and demands respect. Her path is STRAIGHT UP - literally! I saw buffalo, monkeys, giraffes, birds and heard there were elephants but I only saw their dung. I saw so many different kinds of terrain - from lush, enchanted forests, to dry desert, to black sand peaks with gusty winds. I did encounter altitude sickness (a feeling of nausea)but I worked through it. Our guides where these very patient, gentle Tanzanian brothas who helped me dispell a long going myth I had about the cold and being Afrikan. These brothas where going up to the peak with jeans and a light weight jacket - sometimes carrying equipment, food or our bags (if they were a porter). The park services requires all climbers to have a porter, a guide and a ranger - for safety purposes. Even with all this help (and it was wonderful help) it was a hard, difficult climb.

Picture: Going up towards big Meru Point

Did you all know that before our group of 6 black folks - there had only been about 4 other brothas/sistas from the diaspora that have climbed Mt.Meru??? In our group we had the first Zanzibar Sistah to climb the peak of Mt.Meru -history in the making.
I did not reach the very top peak. I was just not that prepared clothes-wise - maybe even mentally to go all the way to the top. I said earlier I went about 9,000 ft but I actually went beyond Rhino Point which was 12,467ft - so I probably did a little less than 13,000 ft. I got a certificate from the ranger for Baby Meru and who knows I may be crazy enough to try it again... I am just a little crazy like that. I am already to talking to some sistahs about having a Sistah Healing Retreat that will include climbing this mountain and a meditation/art retreat in Zanzibar. I also want to take some youth to Mt.Meru (got to be atleast 16yrs to climb).
All these pictures are of Rhino Point at sunrise....soosooo beautiful. The other pictures are of the crater of Mt.Meru that erupted back in 1906.

Picture: Going down only took 1 day! We went back the way we came...