Close your eyes for a moment and think of a place that makes you feel peaceful and fills you with joy, a place that has changed the way you look at and experience life.
When I was recently offered a vacation as a gift for my 50th birthday, I chose to return to the country and city where I found peace and forgiveness. Stone Town in Zanzibar holds a special place in my heart. It is the place where I was able to make peace with my childhood, a place where I could find solitude and be alone with my thoughts.
I chose to use my time in Stone Town as part of my preparation for a journey I have been yearning to embark on for many years. Since January this year, I have invested a lot of time into my physical preparation for my upcoming expedition to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, as an ambassador for Trek4Mandela. My preparation in Zanzibar was very different. It was a continuation of my spiritual and mental preparation for the expedition in July. The preparation for climbing a mountain is more than physical, preparing my mind is just as important, arguably even more so.
As the plane touched down in Zanzibar I was filled with a sense of freedom and as I entered the arrivals hall at the airport, I was greeted with a comforting feeling of simplicity. I decided to indulge my senses and allow myself to fully experience the simple joys of life.
“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves” – Sir Edmund Hillary
My time in Stone Town fulfilled every expectation I had. The sweeping views of the harbour and Indian ocean, from my hotel room, was nothing short of breathtaking. I spent my time walking on the beach, interacting with the local people and appreciating the delightful local culinary offerings of the Spice Island. The feeling of the wind touching my face and the sun kissing my skin is something I cannot put into words. I had time to reflect on my reasons for climbing Kilimanjaro and how far I have come on this journey towards realising my childhood dream.
The month of May is the rainy season in Zanzibar but I was lucky enough to catch a sunset or two. As I watched one of these beautiful sunsets over the beach, I reminded myself why I am climbing Kilimanjaro. I am grateful for the opportunity to make an impact. I have chosen to climb Kilimanjaro because I am passionate about changing the lives of children in every possible way. I aim to raise R1million because I do not want to see any child miss a day of school because her socio-economic circumstances does not allow her access to sanitary pads.
Watching kids playing happily on the beach and in the narrow streets of Stone Town, I wished for every child to experience a joyful childhood, free from the burdens that we as adults bring into their lives.
My best friend Xavier Saer joined me for a few days with his camera and captured me against the backdrop of the rich culture and history of this peaceful city. We made some amazing memories, shooting in the heart of Stone Town, searching for hidden beaches and abandoned palaces in the rain.
This was my third visit to Zanzibar and most definitely not my last. I fell in love with this island and her people on my very first visit and it will always remain a special place with beautiful memories and experiences. In Zanzibar they have given me the name Mrembo, which means “beautiful”. To me they will always be “my beautiful people”.
I am grateful for the experience and for the opportunity to restore my body, mind and soul. I have renewed my commitment to make a positive impact on the lives of children and to contribute to changing the future of the girls, whose lives are touched every day, through the work done by Caring4Girls.
I love south Africa and our people even more and I am happy to be home. There are a few more weeks of training and preparation ahead before we depart for Kilimanjaro on 12 July. I feel a mixture of excitement and a healthy dose of nervousness for what lies ahead, before I finally plant the South African flag at the summit of Kilimanjaro, as a representative of the AKA Foundation.
What I feel most is courage.
If you would like to support my climb in aid of Caring4Girls, please sms LYNN to 42513 to donate R30 or read more about my personal Trek4Mandela Campaign
A huge thank you to Brands Luv U for supplying the clothing I’m wearing, in all the images featured in this blog.