Trekking poles and a Tanzanian visa. Alliteration might be overused and a cliche, but I still like it!
So, I sent off for our Tanzanian visas last week. Many countries require a travel visa besides just a passport, and Tanzania is one of them. This process turned out to be a little more complicated than I expected.
First, passports valid for six months after travel are required and my husband needed to renew his passport which was set to expire in the middle of our trip. We also need our passports for a Memorial Day house building trip to Mexico, so I am biting my nails on this one.
We sent off the application, old passport, payment, required photos at the end of February. Finally, the new passport arrived in late March. Hooray!
Next, more passport size photos - two per person - were needed for the visas. This involved "encouraging" four busy people to get their pictures taken in a timely fashion.
Another complication: our youngest is 17 and a minor who requires a notarized letter from both parents to travel internationally. It doesn't matter that she will be 18 when we go to Tanzania.
At the post office, I was so happy to have all the required documents - four passports, eight photos, notarized letter, four applications, a check and a self-addressed stamped envelope. In my euphoria, however, I filled out the wrong box on the sending envelope and had to start over. BUT, the deed is done, and now my fingers are crossed (at least the ones I am not biting the nails on) that all will be returned soon with our official visas authorizing our Tanzanian travel.
Which brings me to our trekking poles.
Our Mt. Kilimanjaro hiking leader says we all must bring trekking poles. The first days of the climb will take us through a rain forest and the trail will be slippery with mud. Our final day might involve crossing snow slick gravel.
I used to never hike with trekking poles, but that was before I discovered how wonderful they are. Many with trekking poles passed us on the Mt. Whitney descent and I couldn't figure out why until I tried them myself on a backpacking trip.
I joke with my family that I would most likely still be on the top of Sawtooth pass in the Sequoia National Park mountains if I had not had trekking poles.
I've already shared one of my fears: steep downhills. The west side of Sawtooth Mountain is basically a gravel slide with no discernible trail. I was so happy to have my trusty trekking poles to help steady me as I slipped and slid down the loose rocks. They were certainly cheaper than the helicopter that would have been needed to airlift me from the mountain pass.
Trekking poles are also great for crossing streams. I don't like to rock hop. On Mt. Whitney, my daughter very lovingly guided me with her firm grip from wobbly rock to wobbly rock. Now, with my trekking poles, I can ford the streams on my own.
My husband and I checked out various trekking poles at a local store, and ended up ordering poles for ourselves online. They arrived last week.
Maybe I should uncross my fingers long enough to give them a try - or maybe our Tanzanian visas will show up soon.