Saturday, 13 March 2010

Kilimanjaro Diary - Day 8

All I wanted to do was get off the mountian. We were told we would have a mere 4 or 5 hours trekking left but I'm sure it was more. The scenery was beautiful so I tried to concern myself with looking around, keeping my distance from the main body of the group and listening to the iPod again. Newton Faulkner - "Photograph" was today's appropriate song with the lyric "don't take my photograph cos I don't want to know how it looks to feel like this". The weather was still being unpredictable. We'd had frost overnight and hail on the way down. After a mid morning break the sun came out and I somehow managed to get to the front of the group and just zoned out. The guide had to shout at me to stop and wait a few times.

I wasn't in the best of moods when I reached the bottom, but a hug from Alan, Justin and the Doc helped to turn that around. The Doc had some kind words to say for which I'll be ever grateful. I discovered that I'd managed to rip the back of one of my boots somehow. I'm hoping I can get it fixed. We took the minibus to a place called Glacier Bar for a buffet lunch, where we got to say our thank yous to the porters and dish out the tips. It was baking hot. We had a bit of a dance-off; the porters doing their "Maximum Respect" chanting and us with "Hey Baby (oo ah)". Then it was off to the hotel to freshen up and get ready for the gala dinner.

The hotel was superb. A shower has never felt so good and beer has never been enjoyed more. I was on my third before we even got to dinner. It was funny to see everyone in normal clothes, the girls with hair straightened. At dinner we all got a t-shirt bearing the legend "Veni, Vedi, Vici, Kili". Alan refused his but I decided I'd done enough to warrant one, even just as a souvenir. I've since worn it to my indoor climbing class. Dinner was over fairly quickly and somehow we all ended up back at the Glacier bar where there was a live band and a really terrible cheesy disco afterwards. The kind of disco that doesn't mix the songs, will play the same song twice in a row if it was well received and that you think's amazing because you've had three more beers, two sambucas and are managing to dance despite your knees being shot.

When we got kicked out at closing time it was back to the hotel bar which we forced them to reopen. Several deep and meaningful conversations later I found my way to bed. It may have been 4.30am. And there we'll leave it.

The next part of the story is really just about paying a quick shopping trip to the local town of Moshi and our 16 hour journey home. It was only when we were in town and driving through the African countryside to the airport that I really took stock of where I'd been. I would love to go back to experience Africa properly. I think I got more bites in the airport than I got in my whole time on the moutain but I did manage to sleep on the plane, which never normally happens.

It was lovely to see mum and dad again and get home. I had so many messages on facebook that I was quite overwhelmed. I had some cards and mum had bought flowers. Top prize goes to John though, for the carrot cake he'd made and posted ready for my return. John, you are terrific and I will never forget that. It was delicious too.

So that's the story of my Kilimanjaro adventure. I'm sure there's plenty I forgot to mention. Like the Nottingham boys leading the warm up one day and making us laugh so much. Like standing in a circle massaging each others shoulders. Like how much I missed Shruti. Like how my Nan has been quite encouraging with regards to trying again. Undoubtedly it was the most amazing and testing thing I've ever done and even though I didn't make the summit with the majority, I still think I've achieved something fantastic. Oh and I've raised over £4500 for charity. Not bad at all.

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