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Brian & Linda Travel to Africa – Part 3

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Brian & Linda Travel to Africa – Part 3

The Rooftop of Africa

The final leg of our adventure involved a week long hike to the summit of the tallest mountain in Africa Mt. Kilimanjaro, elevation 19,341 feet.  This mountain is also referred to as the roof top of Africa as it is the highest free-standing mountain in the world. This means it is not part of a mountain range.

Even though Brian and I feel like we had prepared physically for our trip the big unknown factor was the elevation.  We never could have imagined what was ahead or that this would be the hardest physical challenge that we had ever experienced. We began our trek with 23 members of our Young Life group and 52 porters/guides whose job was to get us to the summit.  Each of us was allowed a bag of gear that could not exceed 40 pounds which a porter would carry for us.  We then carried a day pack with snacks, water and extra clothes.  After this experience I now look at these men as real life super heroes.  They worked tirelessly each day to make sure our needs were met and that we were successful.   They carried not only our personal bags but also packed in the items necessary for food prep, and camping including our bathrooms.  The first day a porter passed us not only with a large bundle balanced on his head plus his entire body was covered with the bread and eggs that would be used for our breakfasts.

Our team started out enthusiastically but very quickly the elevation and dehydration began to take its toll.  We had a guide that paced us and we soon learned, this needed to be marathon pace not a sprint.   The route we followed began in the rain forest and as each day passed the trees thinned and the boulders size grew. To have the highest chance of success the plan involves climbing to a high altitude then dropping lower to camp each night to help with the acclimation.  We were told to drink, drink and drink some more. This created some challenges as there aren’t many bathroom structures along the way (and the ones that are there are not appealing).   We grew closer as a team each day as we observed many of our teammates suffering the effects of high altitude climbing.  We came upon one young member of the group delirious on the side of the path. The porters were amazing in dealing with these issues and our health and safety were their number one priority. Happily, our young team member recovered fully the next day.

Each day even though the landscape became more barren the views became more amazing. Each day took us higher above the clouds but one night the clouds cleared and we were able to see the lights of Arusha far into the distance.  Awe inspiring to say the least.

We all concentrated on our accent during the venture but nothing prepared us for the challenge of summit day or the descent!  We began our summit attempt at 1:00 AM. Summit temps were 10 degrees with 40 mph winds.  We had to wear 4-5 layers of clothes which made our mobility restricted.

Approximately 5 ½ hours later and some tough trekking we reached the summit just as the sun was rising.  Miraculously our entire team of 23 made the summit.  Now the real work began. We had begun the day at 16,100 feet, reached the summit of 19,341, returned to base camp for a 2 hour nap and then hit the descent trail  for 6 ½ miles straight down a 9,400 foot descent in about 5 hours. Needless to say,  our feet and toes took the worst of it.  We fell into camp that night utterly exhausted but so excited that we had accomplished this feat.  The next day was the final leg down where at the bottom we were greeted by locals who washed our shoes for $2.00.  We would have paid a lot more for a foot massage.

We ended our stay in Tanzania with a 3 day safari with a whole lot more creature comforts than we had over the previous two weeks and boy were we thankful.  If you have ever dreamed of going on safari don’t give up on that dream.  The experience exceeded our expectations.

My purpose in sharing all of our experiences in Africa not just the coffee part is to encourage you to go after the dreams you have.  We stepped out of our comfort zone big time on this trip and the rewards were unimaginable.  At Bergies we encourage our staff to reach for their dreams because we only have one life and it is our choice to live an ordinary life or to go for the extraordinary!  We made lifetime memories to share and I would love to hear about your dreams and goals for the future.  My new motto is LIVE BOLD NOT OLD what is yours?

 

Happy Adventuring,

Linda

Bergies Coffee Roast House

Brian & Linda Travel to Africa – Part 2

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Brian & Linda Travel to Africa – Part 2

Tanzania

When we arrived in Arusha, Tanzania we gathered with a group from the U.S. that we had never met and who predominantly came from the East Coast and South. We all gathered for the purpose of being part of Young life Expeditions Africa. Little did we know at that first meeting we were about to have an experience that would change us forever and bind us to new communities in The states and Tanzania forever.

Our purpose at this point was to partner with local Tanzania Younglife staff to do a community work project in a school located in the village of Landanai. This area has a large population of Massai.  We were taken on a six hour drive in a great vehicle named Christina to a remote area. We were privileged to camp in a Massai compound.

Our host was Gideon who was the eldest son of the chief’s 28 children. It was a shock to observe this village still living in the traditional ways of their ancestors. No running water, no electricity, traditional dress and mud hut homes.  In addition the tribe still adheres to ancient customs. These included killing a goat in front of us that was served for dinner that night. Despite our extreme differences we were welcomed with amazing hospitality.

Our arrival was the buzz of the community and all came out to observe these strangers from a distance land. As in most cultures the children were the first to come close and check us out. We could tell by their faces that most had never seen folks that looked like us before.  They were fascinated to stroke our skin and hair and check out our jewelry. It wasn’t long until they were hand clapping with our team. It was a humbling feeling to have children fighting to be next to you or simply hold your hand.

Our time at the school was an eye opening awareness of all that we take for granted at home. In the days that we worked on replacing a classroom floor we learned that the school had 800 children with 5 teachers. This meant that most classrooms had no teacher only an assignment on the board. The children were self supervised until we walked in then pandemonium usually erupted. In addition, only 1/3 of the children could afford the $2.00 per month cost of school lunch. So lunch consisted of 2/3 of the children watching the 1/3 eat lunch. Most students walk miles to school each day and generally eat only one meal a day at dinner.  Needless to say it was heartbreaking to see for us but the children just accepted it as their reality.

Our work project involved 2 days of back breaking work, as all steps were done the “old fashioned way” by hand. This including tearing out the existing broken concrete floor, breaking large rocks with sledgehammers, hand mixing and pouring the new concrete and passing them along bucket brigade style. During this the children were eager to help. It was amazing as we mingled and played with these children the awareness of no matter where we have traveled in the world we have more the similarities than differences.

These children also loved to have their pictures taken. They knew the English word picture and they immediately learned how to “swipe”. Many would scream when they saw themselves for the first time. I’ve never had so much pleasure from  just taking a photo. The love and appreciation we experienced in this school will stay with us forever.

The hardest part for us to process was that most of the Massai children that we were camping with do not attend this school. They instead had work responsibilities at home that were a priority. The men, and boys herd and farm daily while the women and girls take care of the needs of the home.  Most girls in the tribe are married around the age of 12. We befriended Gideon’s oldest son who is 8 and watched him herding his goats. Needless to say, you don’t want to be around this firecracker when he is wielding his whip on his herd!

We happened to also have visited at a very special celebration time for this village. It was circumcision time which only happens every seven years. This is a two day celebration with traditional dance involved. Fortunately we did not witness the procedure only the pleasure of seeing the dances. I kept asking Brian is this National Geographic?  It was surreal and beautiful to be welcomed in this manner.

I have so many more amazing stories and thoughts about our time with the Massai to share but am limited by space. If you would like to hear more stop me in the shop and I can fill you in on more. My take away from this experience was the power and importance of a community.

The way of life we experienced would not be possible without everyone working together in the family and community to make survival possible. As I reflect on our country and our Gilbert community I have a new view on the measurement of the success in our lives.  Success comes from being rooted in human relationships.

Our families, schools, church’s, teams etc are the building blocks for successful communities. Technology is an amazing gift of convenience for us in so many areas but we should never let it be a substitute for the real gift of human interaction.

Our goal at Bergies continues to be a place to nurture relationships over great coffee in a peaceful environment.  We are proud to be part of this Gilbert community and I encourage you today to take a few moments and nurture a relationship in your life. We would be honored if it includes some time at Bergies.

 

So thankful for our Bergies team and customer family!

Stay tuned for part 3 climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Linda

Brian & Linda Travel to Africa – Part 1

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This summer Brian and I had the privilege of traveling to the country of Tanzania in Africa. We went with Younglife Expeditions where we did a mission project in a Maasai community, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, went on safari and yes squeezed in a trip to a beautiful coffee plantation. One blog Is not enough space to share all of our incredible experiences we had in Africa, so over the next few posts I will share some highlights of each experience.
If you are a Bergies fresh roasted beans fan you may be aware that we have always carried a Tanzania Peaberry bean in our shop which has always been a customer favorite.


At the Arusha Coffee Lodge Plantation we were given a private tour of the grounds by our very informative guide Nassoro. We learned that even after 9 years at Bergies we still have things to learn!

If you are not familiar with the term “peaberry” it simply means the fruit of the coffee plant has produced only one seed in the cherry. Normally, the cherry has two seeds that generally make a flat side to the bean. A peaberry tends to be smaller and rounder than traditional beans. You be the judge to decide if you can detect a taste difference.

We tried to guess before opening the cherry which ones would be peaberries, Brian had more success than I did at picking the correct cherries while they were still on the bush that were peaberries! Apparently, only about 5% of the crop will be peaberries. These beans are then separated from the rest to be sold as peaberry coffee.

We also observed the crop being harvested by hand. These workers are almost exclusively women and are paid approximately .50 per kilo of beans harvested. An efficient worker could make about $5.00 per day in a country where the average wage is $2.00 a day. A few of the potential hazards at this plantation included the possibility of running into wild baboons and dik-diks (a small antelope).


After we completed walking the grounds and examining the plants we were treated to Nassaro roasting some beans for us and then he prepared us a delicious cup of Tanzania Peaberry right from the roaster. What a delicious treat.

In addition to being a working plantation, The Arusha Coffee Lodge is a full-service boutique hotel that offers a unique experience for any coffee lover. We did not stay at the lodge on this trip but we would love to return someday to stay as guests! What more could a coffee lover ask and you would be guaranteed a great cup every day!

If you enjoyed this recap stay tuned I will be posting in the next few weeks more about our wonderful experiences in Africa.
We appreciate you and your support of Bergies Coffee Roast House.
With thanks,
Linda