acclimatize/əˈklʌɪmətʌɪz/verb: become accustomed to a new climate or new conditions; adjust.
I’m acclimatizing to the altitude, which is why Aaron and I are here a few days before the climb. Arusha is at 4,600 feet above sea level. There’s a mountain outside my hotel so tall that my incoming Kenya Airways flight from Nairobi had to fly around it. Kili towers at 19,400 feet. That’s the elevation of Denver added to the height of Mt. Whitney, the tallest point in continental USA.
Tanzania seems easy to slide into. Aaron and I are drinking beer with eminently marketable names like Kilimanjaro and Serengeti. We tried our first plate of ugali with nyamo choma (corn flour porridge – though in a consistency that you can cut with a fork or almost break off with your hand, and grilled meat). We have level zero Swahili down – keeping our asantes and karibus straight in a culture where people are constantly thanking or welcoming you.
I’m also acclimatizing to amazing weather – lows of 55 °F. Living out of my duffel bag in hotel rooms. Excellent coffee. Strangers. And knowing that different is the new normal for a while – which is slightly daunting but pretty thrilling.