Saturday, August 04, 2012

Day 7 : Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate

We woke up at 06:30 after almost 10 straight hours of solid sleep, I don't think I even turned over once.  I tried to write up my diary last night but I got about half way through it before I fell asleep so I decided to call it quits.  I can see in the handwritten diary where I was falling asleep because my handwriting degenerates into a scrawl.

We had all had a good nights kip and after the usual maltabella, which Andre is still steadfastly refusing to let past his lips, omelettes and bread all the camp staff gave us a bit of a sing-song which was much less tacky than expected and now that I have the tune in my head it won't get out.

The last days walk consisted of yet another 1300m of descent, our knees complaining all the way as, Andre put it, an avalanche of porters came rushing past us.  It is quite unbelievable how they jog down a slippery path with heavy loads on their backs or heads.  Although they almost never slipped there was the odd crash as something came loose and clattered down.

Today we were in the rain forest almost from the word go which after the barren vistas we have been in for most of the week is quite refreshing and very beautiful.

We also ran into the two betties whom we hadn't seen since the first couple of days; they had made it up to 5000m which, given their physical presence, was quite a remarkable achievement.

Simon decided to gap it and get it over and done as quickly as possible so we didn't see him at all and I was taking photographs so I was quite slow and ended up overtaking the same people repeatedly.

We re-met an afrikaans couple that we had first met on days one and two and had a good chat as we sauntered down the path and they piqued my interest in doing the Inca trail in South America sometime in the future.

Once we reached the road head we signed out and then had our boots cleaned.  I was a bit reluctant because I didn't want them wet since I had to wear them again tomorrow but I needn't have worried and $2 later I had a nice clean pair of boots.

Surprisingly the bus was waiting for us and we climbed on board but were then besieged by hawkers through the bus windows which led to a couple of fabulous interactions between Andre, Simon and the hawkers.  Andre completely bamboozled the hawkers to such an extent that they had no idea if they were ahead or behind on the deal.  I think what threw them was when Andre gave a shirt back which scrambled his accounting but in the end, the hawker came out way, way ahead not that he knew it while Simon and I had a very good laugh.  Andre got $4 plus 2 bangles, 2 banana skin paintings and two Kilimanjaro patches which the hawker got a well used hat, two walking sticks, a led headlamp and two gaiters from what I can remember.  It was a hilarious exchange with Simon getting in and out of the act and tried to swap his 3 day old underpants to another hawker who wasn't biting at all.  The teenage girl in the seat in front of Simon was in hysterics so he played it up a bit which everyone, other than the hawker, enjoyed immensely.

A short bus ride later we were back at Springlands and a welcome Kilimanjaro beer in our hands followed in short order by many Tuskers.  There is no wine at all to be purchased here so I am just going with the flow and drinking the beer. The whole afternoon was spent in the beer garden with intermittent forays into the room to shower and sort out the baggage ready for an early start tomorrow morning.

We met up with Marita and Petrie who had spent the week in Zanzibar so their trip wasn't without at least some highlights.  We sorted out the tips with Prosper which went well, Shirley, Cronje and Arthur had all left tips of the recommended $185 with the hotel and the three of us added $220 each which, given the amount of work involved by the porters and staff, still seemed very reasonable.

Simon asked Prosper to bring him his pack and to show him his gloves which only a picture can describe.  At this point Simon gave Prosper his gloves in exchange for Prospers gloves which was very kind of him.  Andre also gave his sleeping bag to Prosper so he did very nicely out us or, more correctly, Andre and Simon.

I spent most of the afternoon writing while Simon and Andre consumed vast, by my standards, amounts of Kilimanjaro and Tusker beer.  Somewhere Simon managed to find time to have a massage which he says was excellent, not just good, but really excellent.

Supper was very average but it was really nice to have a proper shower even though the hot water ran out 2 minutes into the shower and it was especially nice to sleep on something horizontal instead of constantly having to crawl uphill in one's sleeping bag.

So that is it, Kilimanjaro; tick with a capital T.

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