By now, the young Conethians who were part of Expedition East Africa 2018 have settled back into their cushy South Dublin teenage lives: a barbecue at the friends or relatives, a jump off the 40 foot, a daily hour (or six) on Instagram, a burrito at Tolteca and maybe a walk out the pier to get an ice cream at Teddy’s… everything is back to normal, nothing seems to have changed… but take a better look at these young men and women. You see the suntan and the fitness, honed over five weeks of hiking and biking under the African sun, yes, but look even closer, into the eyes, and try to see more deeply: ‘where the meanings are’ in the words of Emily Dickinson. The fact is the members of the expedition are changed and will never be the same again.
A new maturity? A more open mind? Less complaints about the choice of cereal in the cupboard? Hard to pin down, but let us just say that no-one who goes on an expedition of this scope and intensity returns the same person. And it is a change for the better. Above and below you will see photos of just some of the adventures and activities which Expedition Leaders Gav Maguire and Dolores Kelly led them through (with the help of Earth’s Edge): hiking through a rainforest, sampling the local markets, teaching (and learning) at local schools, attempting a native dance, biking across the wild plains and, of course, climbing Kilimanjaro. The photos capture much but to truly grasp the value of an expedition like this takes time. Over the years to come, these lucky (and brave) Conlethians will, from time to time, think back, remember and savour again, the experiences of a lifetime.