Walking off Kilimanjaro

I awake at 0600 my internal clock seems set at this time permanently. I wonder if I am now a morning person? I wake John and he tells me of last nights dinner with its few attendees and nausea and vomiting that plagued some of our group. I was happy to have missed the festivities

I’m not hungry but instead feel strangely full despite having omitted or picked at food for the past 24 hours. I get dressed, spend some time digging and packing my bag, run my fingers through my greasy hair, imagine how lovely a shower will feel later today and drag my still weary body from our nylon home.

I make my way to the dining tent and discover that despite rising early I have arrived late for breakfast as I’ve moved slowly. It seems as though there is no danger of becoming a morning person. We have the dining tent mostly to ourselves, save for a few stragglers. I look at the offerings and decide on dry toast and tea. I tear the toast in half, giving half to John, then tackle the other half. I manage to eat a few bites which takes 45 minutes to consume. One of our group encourages me to take the rest with me to eat on the way. I comply.

We pack up our gear though John puts the sleeping bags away as my strength has not returned and I cannot face the energy needed to stuff the bags away. I ask how long of a hike today and John replies that the number of hours is dependent on who one speaks to, though the range is a few hours to as many as six hours. I silently hope for the shorter time.

We have each given $200USD as a tip to the Guides, Porters and Cooks who did the real work to make this trek possible. We were told of the amount ahead of time, as it’s more of a surcharge than a tip. It will be given to Brighton, who will distribute based on their seniority and title. Initially when I was told of this expectation I was annoyed, now I don’t begrudge this extra money , they have earned far more in my opinion. Still, we have also prepaid this excursion and I do wonder how much of that money makes its way to these men. It is a convoluted system of many hands being greased and likely the majority of our money goes to people who do little physical work to earn the wage. My head hurts with all this thinking that will not change anything

I take of a few photos of our last home on the mountain. I look towards the route that we will hike in a short time and am sad to see such a large hill. I’m disappointed to know that we will be climbing up hill and wonder if there is anyone I can log my complaint with as it does not seem fair. Are we not climbing off a mountain, I wonder? I keep my thoughts to myself.

Brighton asks if we have any clothing to donate to the Guides and Porters. Many of them do this trek without adequate clothing or gear for the mountain conditions. This is their livelihood, whereas for us we are merely weekend warriors with the best gear money can buy. John and I go through our clothing and happily donate a winter coat, lined pants, hat and ski gloves. Godwin sees our offerings and takes John’s pants for himself, later John will give him his winter coat and we are pleased to know that future trips up Kilimanjaro will be more comfortable for the Guide that we have come to know so well.

The Guides and Porters assemble and they thank us by dancing and singing for our group. This is so special, Brighton continues to have an unlimited supply of energy and enthusiasm as he dances with many of our group. I sit down and video tape the moment.

Too soon it’s time to line up one last time, don our packs and walk. Quickly, we settle into our rhythm. The terrain is rocky and steep initially, but gradually would smooth. We would wish for uphill only a short time later and our wish would continue for many hours though it would never be granted.IMG_0463.JPG

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cherylsmit

Writing and photography are my first and second loves and thanks to technology I have the ability to share with a larger audience, including family and friends. Gone are the days of lugging around photo albums after a trip and of keeping a written journal of the experience that only I would view. The days of the handwritten letters are gone, but blogging provides a chance to share ideas, thoughts and photographs with a few mouse clicks and to receive instant feedback from around the world. It provides an opportunity to research a new place and to see that place through the eyes of a multitude of people each with their own unique way of viewing and experiencing the world. It opens the world wide and allows us a front row seat. Blogging connects us and creates a family of support. It provides an outlet and a chance to perfect the craft of writing and story telling. When I sit in my living room drinking my coffee and see that someone from another part of the world has read my words, and then I read theirs, the world is much smaller and more attainable. We are more alike than different as we share uniquely human experiences. Once I had a dream of becoming a Journalist, but somehow life got in the way. I currently have a fantastic career in healthcare and know that I have made a difference so I have no regrets. Still, I wonder if there is time to explore the road less travelled?

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