Four days from today, I meet my international team of scientists, conservation workers, climbers, filmmakers, students, and volunteers at the airport in Blantyre, Malawi. We’re heading to Mozambique; we’re heading to the Lost Mountain. All totaled, 19 people varying in age from 19 to 55, from Brazilians to South Africans, Americans to Mozambicans, with backgrounds ranging from snakes to photography, forestry to rock climbing, will be working together for one month in the African bush. We have big goals. It started small. It’s mostly my fault—and I’m the one who’s in charge.
Back in 2008, I saw a few photos of mountains in Mozambique. I wanted to know more. More came in droves. Pretty soon I had a project partner, Sarah Garlick, and our two-person team found the root of its fascination in one mountain in particular: Mt Namuli. It had 3,500 people living on its flanks; a fascinating vertical biological playground on its 2,000’ southwest granite face; and a mythology steeped in human origins.
Fast-forward four years. The Lost Mountain is an international project and film with the backing of grants, sponsors, and a successful Kickstarter campaign, and our team has multiplied by a factor of 10. This is easily the most exciting, intense, and insane thing I have ever undertaken. That might explain my trouble sleeping recently.
Last week I flew into Maputo, Mozambique, and, after 48 hours of cars, cabs, hotels, and planes, I went from the airport directly into a meeting with Geraldo Palane. Geraldo is the leader of our conservation team from LUPA (Associação para o Desenvolvimento Comunitário). We’ve been working together remotely for almost three years. This was our first opportunity to sit face-to-face. We finally got to laugh together, in person, about audaciousness of our shared project vision. After our meeting I checked in to my hotel room and pulled up my email for the first time in two days. I watched dozens of well-wishing emails from our team of supporters fill my inbox. I read emails from each of my teammates with ideas, questions, and excitement. Then I started crying. I blamed the jetlag, but now I know better. That same emotion has stuck with me since then. It’s the fullness that comes from trying this hard and seeing a team form from nothing into something powerful. It’s being humbled and awed and… ready.
We’re off. It’s happening. We’ll keep you posted.