Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Hill that was a Mountain

Well, I’ve climbed a mountain in Africa. Sort of. It’s actually called “Katete Hill”, but it was hard work walking up it, and on that basis I’m going to put it in “mountain” category.

My friend and I took the hike there today with 7 other students who are currently placed at St Francis Hospital. Usually with a biggish group you can usually guarantee that you won’t be the slow one, but I was pretty far back on our climb up. Now I’m not making excuses, but I had kind of planned to do exercise before coming overseas, and then I came down with pneumonia, so there is a reason for my lack of fitness. I think it’s called laziness.

It took us just over an hour to reach the top – it’s not a very long walk, but it’s quite steep for most of the way, and the ground in some places is just red dust with fine rocks which slip out from underfoot. There is no path to the top; you just have to find your own way. A good way is to start at the bottom and always walk upwards. It worked for us. We had to be quite careful though, because between most of the trees is a spider web, usually with a spectacular-looking spider in it. I took some photos, which I unfortunately can’t share with you due to lack of reliable Internet.

My favourite spider was a small flat one that looked a bit like a crab – it actually looked like it should have been a ground spider, but there it was in a web at face-height. My other favourite was an enormous black spider with bright yellow stripes and sharp-looking legs. As my friend put it, “I wouldn’t like that one walking on me”.

It was a hard walk, but the view from the top was a worthy reward. We could see the landscape of Zambia stretching out in each direction – flat land to the North and West with low hills in the distance, more hills (mountains) to the South and East. There was very little traffic on the road below – maybe one or two cars passed in the hour we sat there. The only sounds were the birds and various insects around us, and singing from the small village below. Beautiful.

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