A panda is indeed a black and white animal that is commonly pictured eating bamboo, but that's not relevant here. Rather, "Panda!" means "Climb!" (and a bunch of other things) in Swahili, and that's just what we did this weekend. Over six days, I trekked to Uhuru Peak, Kilimanjaro's highest point at 5,985 m or 19,341 ft, and back down to the park gate along with some great friends and a crew of guides, porters, and a splendid cook.
Here is a subset of the group at the summit.
The short story is that I took a lot of pictures, I ate a lot of good food, and I experienced some degree of altitude sickness. You can probably imagine that I'm pretty tired, so I'll rest now and post more details and pictures next week. In the meantime, as a brief introduction to the Kilimanjaro experience, I'll leave you with some critical key words.
polepole = slowly
maji = water
(those two were the most important)
baridi = cold
kupumua = to breathe
vigumu = difficult
barafu = ice (Barafu Camp was the last place we slept before summit)
(and, of course,) kupanda = to climb
Until next week!