Monday, Oct 23 (Kilimanjaro—Mweka to Arusha—Moivaro)

Woo hoo! The final morning! No more living out of a duffle bag and hundreds of zip-lock bags! No more repacking everything every morning!

I’m sitting in the space station, and the locals are chanting/singing next door. I wish I could record some audio. We have a bright blue sky, which is rather hopeful for good weather for today.


Our final day on Kili.

The hike out was one of the nicest that we’ve done. We had a sunny blue sky (no rain) and warm temps. The trail dropped more gradually than yesterday, so it was rather nice (and less painful for the knees).

This morning was slightly different in that after breakfast, the head (African) guide paid off the porters, who would be staying there or going home. There was a little ceremony with the porters lined up on one side and the guide on the other side. He would read out a name, and the porter would come forward and get paid. Afterwards, the porters sang us a native song. John managed to capture some of it on his mp3 player. Click here to hear their song.

There was a generic tip that we all chipped in for, and which was distributed to the crew according to their responsibilities. Then I also gave the guy who had been carrying my duffle a personal tip. (Each duffle was carried by the same porter for the entire trip.) I also gave one of the porters my sleeping bag. I didn’t think I would be using it again. I did it at this time so that I wouldn’t have to pack it up.

We had a great clear view of the Kili summit, although later in the day it was again in the clouds.

Near the bottom of the hike, we started running into signs of civilization. There were two children, I would guess around 10 years old. They were apparently harvesting some sort of plant and bringing it down the trail. They were pacing me at one point, and one of them said (I figured it out after a few repetitions) “carabiner”. I had two of them hanging off the back of my pack. I figured that they were shiny and only cost a couple of bucks, so I gave them one. But they were more insistent, and only one is hard to share with two children, so I eventually gave them the other one as well.

When we got to the main gate, a zoo ensued. We had a short hike down the road to where we were going to eat lunch. Every step of the way, we were hounded by people trying to sell us tee-shirts, crafts, hats, etc. It was rather annoying. Winston, our head cook, was going to be selling things at lunch, so I wanted to wait for that.

Not surprisingly, when the bus that would take us from the mountain back to Arusha showed up, John’s wife Pam was on it. (She was coming out for the safari, but not for the Kili climb.)

When we got to the lunch spot, the crowd was kept out, and we could enjoy our lunch in peace. There was one tee shirt that I wanted, but Winston didn’t have it in my size. So I bought some other shirt from him. After lunch, they let the sellers in, and it was pandemonium. I bought the shirt that I had originally wanted, but in my size. The guy I bought it from didn’t have it in my size, but he got it from someone else. A shouting match ensued between them, as I think the second guy wanted to sell it to me directly, but the first guy wanted to make the sale. I stayed out of it. Everything seemed to be $10 (US). I might have be been able to bargain him down some, but I don’t like dickering.

Our duffles went up on the roof of the bus, and our day packs went into the bus with us. Eventually, I went into the bus myself, to escape the crowd, but there was no escape. They kept coming around and selling stuff (or trying to) through the windows. If we closed the windows, it got too warm. I would liken this to the African version of internet spam. It’s annoying, but enough stuff gets sold to make it worthwhile. Eventually, all of our stuff on the roof was tied down, and we could make our escape.

Down at the lodge, John was of course rooming with his wife, so I ended up rooming with our guide Jorge. Since Jorge had lots of details to deal with, I had uncontested reign of the shower. Taking a shower was incredibly nice. I can’t recall when I have enjoyed a shower so much.

The next few hours were spent repacking things for the Safari. (It seems that we were never done with packing and repacking!) I am taking one suitcase with me, and leaving two behind. But at least this time I won’t be living out of zip-lock bags.

The lodge has a nice view of Mt. Meru (which is a short distance west of Kili), but we never would have guessed it the previous time we were here, as we had solid cloud cover then. Unfortunately, Kili was shrouded by clouds when we had left the mountain, so we could only see the lowest portions of it.

The appetite that I lost on the mountain has returned with a vengeance, and I am starving. Dinner is only in about 15 minutes, so I am in luck.

My sneakers feel strange after having lived in my hiking boots for the past week.

If you don't mind some gross personal observations about body fluids, click here.

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