Yesterday we talked about Jim Wolf and his climb of Kilimanjaro and I remembered my Kilimanjaro story.
Voi sits in the midst of the Tsavo National Game preserve in Kenya and is the area around which one of the great stories that has haunted big game hunters and tourists alike took place. Tsavo means “place of slaughter” and was in this area that two lions killed and ate 135 porters, workers and assorted hangers on who were trying to complete the Uganda Railway in the 1800’s. Needless to say their activity brought the work pretty much to a halt until the engineer in charge, John Patterson, finally killed both of the lions. The story has been turned into many a Hollywood movie the latest of which is “The Ghost and the Darkness”. We visited a Norwegian Mission outpost and the man in charge told me of an incident in which a lion had recently came into the compound by jumping a twelve foot electric fence, chewed through another chain link fence and took off with a goat that had been penned inside. Witnesses said that the lion leaped back over the electric fence with a full grown goat in it’s mouth with hardly any discernible effort. The fear was that since it had chewed through the chain link fence it would have ruined it’s teeth and now would start hunting humans because they are easy prey.
When you hear stories like that and your travel through this part of the country you have that fear factor that sets in when you realize that in some areas you are prey. Add to that the almost surreal quality of the country side. Sometimes desert, sometimes blooming Savanna depending on the time of the year. The road back then was atrocious. We were going to Mombassa and what should have been a relatively easy drive took almost the whole day. There were huge truks tipped over on the highway because the road was so bad and it was like driving through a dinosaur graveyard.
At any rate the gentlemen with us said that we should be able to see Kilimanjaro from where we were but it was almost always hidden by cloud. On the way back we looked for and never saw the ‘shy mountain’. We were looking for a place to get out and take a break. We found a spot on the plain that looked devoid of human life. There were some camels off in the distance and a few zebra wnadering around. We got out of the car and stretched our legs and I kept looking for the mountain and for a toothless lion. When I turned around there were three little boys standing there. I will never forget that scene. The simply appeared out of no where and one of them had on his t-shirt the worlds “Jesus is Lord”. I have said before that was one of the most powerful witnesses I have ever seen – that t-shirt in the middle of the Tsavo wilderness. It was bold. I just wish the mountain were that bold. Wrote a song about it.