We decided to go to Elbrus a week before the actual climb took place! How did it happen? Well, the initial plan was to go to Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain of Africa (and the highest mountain of the German Empire until the World War I when Germany lost its colonies including Tanganyika and Zanzibar). I was totally excited to hike up the mountain, enjoy safaris and beautiful beaches of Zanzibar, however there was a problem:
I am coming from the second-third-fourth-etc. world where everyone is fucked up as a traveller, because we need a visa to almost every country. Yes, I am a *proud* owner of Kyrgyzstan citizenship and I need visa to every corner of the world, because apparently they are afraid of countries that end with ‘stan’s. Funny fact though: I am allowed to travel visa-free to other ‘stan’ countries, like Kyrgbekistan.
So, in order to fully enjoy neocolonial safaris, Kili hiking tour and Zanzibar, I needed a special clearance from Tanzanian Department of Immigration in order to receive my so-called referral or refered visa. Such clearance is needed for a very interesting list of countries with Kyigten Republic on it (Note how they spelled Kyrgyzstan 🙂 on their official website).
So unlike EU citizens, who can get their visa on arrival, I had to wait 2 months for the clearance that never arrived. The all-powerful Tanzanian Department of Immigration decided to ignore me likely because I am gay (if you google my name, it is clear from a wikipedia article). My suspicion confirmed when I got several people, allegedly gay Tanzanian activists, trying to add me on Facebook (even though their profiles were created very recently, they had only a few friends, *fake* pictures and posts).
A few weeks after this, the governor of Dar es Salaam officially stated that he will hunt gay people now. This news doubled my zeal to fight for my visa to Tanzania and waive a rainbow flag on the beautiful mountain of Kili. Yes, even if it is dangerous, even if there is wide-spread homophobia, violence and a real threat to end up in prison for up to 30 years.
But until then, I decided to go to another *liberal, democratic, tolerant, and progressive* country: Russia, where I felt it is very important to waive the rainbow flag on Elbrus, the highest peak of Europe. Our adventure begins soon in Russia, where I do not need any visa by the way (EU citizens need it though, but it is very easy to get. Steffen got it in just 3 days).