Climbing Kilimanjaro – Chapter 2

Arriving in Africa

Jo and Diane on the busOur onward journey to Kilimanjaro international Airport was uneventful. What a lovely treat to have 8 hours uninterrupted peace on a plane, two movies, a little reading and some music. Bliss, no emails, no texts, no calls! The thought that long haul flights may soon become web enabled does not fill me with joy. Landing at Kilimanjaro, it was dark and warm with mosquitos buzzing. As we entered the terminal, the first of several power cuts plunged us into a gloomy silence while queuing for passport control. None of the staff batted an eyelid as they waited patiently for the lights to come back on and the computers to power up.

Through Arrivals and onto an antiquated bus that transferred us in heavy rain to the hotel. There I met my two lovely roommates, Jo and Diane, both sound asleep and rudely awakened by my arrival. After ascertaining that they did not want to chat (I did, but not to worry), I settled down to sleep. Should I use my mosquito spray I wondered? Sadly my decision not to bother was the wrong one as I heard the familiar buzz and sting at around 3am. Quick, take a malaria tablet. 

Lunch!Up for breakfast at seven, and first a shower, which was very cold but I was soon to realise how much I should have appreciated it!  Breakfast was porridge, well that’s my favourite, until I realised it was millet porridge which looks like brown sludge, and tastes not much better. Although it was marginally enhanced by the addition of honey.   

Then the briefing, this was what we were here for after all with five lovely Tanzanians, one of whom had climbed Kilimanjaro nearly 900 times! They were to be our guides: kind, knowledgeable and polite. I felt a great deal of trust and respect as they outlined the details of each day. The risks of altitude sickness, the need for constant water and regular snacks, the importance of “pole pole” (going slowly) and much else. The reality of the challenge started to set in – this was to be no walk in the park.

Team COCO ready for actionThen off we went to see the project that we would be raising money for, a nursery school for children of widows and single mothers. There were around 25 kids, cute and delighted with their pencils and colouring books. A lovely lunch was made for us by the mothers in a giant vat, all very simple. Within the fenced off area, there was a hut, toilets, and a mud yard, and a lot of smiling and happy kids. Many of them are orphans of AIDS victims. And it is good to know that what we are doing does make a difference. Then back via the town centre and I ordered myself some handmade trousers to pick up in a week’s time for around £5. A week’s time!  Just a mountain to climb in between.

Dinner was in an Italian restaurant of all places which turned out to serve Indian food as well. All good fun and had a really good chance to bond with the group. There are 9 guys ranging from 32 to 62 years old and 6 girls from 38 to 55 – I find out that we are the corporate group and everyone looks keen and ready for action. I don’t see anyone who looks like they might be a quitter.

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Debbie Marshall

Founder of Silver Travel Advisor

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