Journey from Seattle begins with kindness of friends and the friendship of strangers
Aug. 9, after preparation and medical consultations, banker Laurie Stewart set out for Africa.
Having never climbed before, Stewart admitted to some nerves a day or two before. An email exchange:
Laurie Stewart heads to Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro
ABABJ’s Steve Cocheo: There's part of me that wishes it was going with you. The other part that doesn't like heights is quite happy right here.
Sound Community Bank’s Laurie Stewart: There is a part of me that wishes you were going in my place.
But Stewart is a determined woman. She’d committed to try the climb. She had the committed funds of friends, family, and employees towards Climb To Fight Breast Cancer.
And she’d made a quiet, symbolic commitment. Before packing, she spoke of it:
“I encouraged all of my friends, family, and co-workers to give me names of those that have been touched by cancer,” said Stewart. “As a result, in addition to the name of my late husband Ken, I will be carrying the names of 17 other individuals. I hope to tuck in 18 small pebbles or leaves to toss into the wind at the summit. (It is a leave no trace expedition so I have to use an environmentally friendly memorial.)
• • •
AUGUST 9 DISPATCH…………………………………………….
“People are really nice!”
I tried to save a few dollars on my airline ticket since I couldn’t use miles. As a result I was routed via Portland to Amsterdam and then on to Arusha (home airport for Mount Kilimanjaro.)
In Seattle, I checked in at Delta. The nice gate agent asked why I was routing through Portland. I said that is what I got. She said “I bet that flight is overbooked. “ I immediately panicked.
But she smiled and asked why I was going to Africa. I of course told her my story.
So she taps her keys furiously, and when she was done, I was re-routed from Seattle to Amsterdam in First Class. (I had had a business seat from Portland.) She used the “oversold” status of the Portland hop to reroute me without cost.
I asked if I could buy her a coffee. She just laughed. After checking my bags—one of which was overweight, which was somehow overlooked—she stood up, shook my hand, and said, “Thank you for doing the climb!”
She then sent me off to the Crown Club, where I am typing this email and enjoying a bloody mary!
We always say it is the journey that counts. This little leg of the journey is already making me smile.
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Have you traveled to Africa? Encountered unexpected kindness while traveling? Climbed a mountain? Share your comments below.