Making time for it...
united-nations:

Monday is International Widows’ Day.An estimated 115 million widows live in poverty, and 81 million have suffered physical abuse. Abuse of widows and their children constitutes one of the most serious violations of human rights and obstacles to development today. Millions of the world’s widows endure extreme poverty, ostracism, violence, homelessness, ill health and discrimination in law and custom.

united-nations:

Monday is International Widows’ Day.

An estimated 115 million widows live in poverty, and 81 million have suffered physical abuse. 

Abuse of widows and their children constitutes one of the most serious violations of human rights and obstacles to development today. Millions of the world’s widows endure extreme poverty, ostracism, violence, homelessness, ill health and discrimination in law and custom.

pipsqueakandcider:

If you’re keen on meeting new people then I would recommend speed dating! What’s that? Is there some mistake? Nope! I actually tried out speed dating and it was brill. I had a great time. And that’s the thing AND the key… Focus on enjoying yourself and see it as an opportunity to meet some new…

pipsqueakandcider:

POA KICHIZI, KAMA NDIZI

We left Perth for Johannesburg on an 11 hour flight close to an hour late but our pilot made for lost ground and we arrived not too long after our scheduled arrival. Had a good siesta inside the International transfers area of OR Tambo International in Joberg then made our way to our connecting flight. Did the usual merry dance of showing our passports, boarding passes, loaded our carry on luggage into containers to be x-rayed then hopped on the Dar Es Salaam bound flight. There were some absolutely stellar bits of scenery that we got to see flying overhead and I got a real kick out of seeing African cities on the departures screen. Dar Es Salaam here we come!

We were sat right at the front of the economy section with a spare seat between us which came in handy when it came time to eat. Do you know how phones and tablets have to be switched off during take off and landing but are allowed to be in aeroplane mode during the actual flight? Well this woman across from us kept on staring at me and I couldn’t figure out why so just kept on with my own thing until over an hour later when she motioned at my tablet and said “Off! Off!” The irony is, I wasn’t sure if planes in Africa would allow me to have my devices on so had asked the flight attendant who gave me the a-okay. I tried explaining it to this woman but fancy being annoyed and pointedly staring at someone for over an hour. I get that she was concerned as that is a safety issue but if that were me, I’d talk to the flight attendant or just say “Hey, I think that should be turned off guys.”

We got to Julius Nyerere Airport and the humidity very nearly knocked the wind out of my sales. One of the visa processing guys at immigration joked about kangaroos and suggested I change my outfit as it was too hot. I was basically dressed as an eskimo ‘cause my Kilimanjaro gear is quite heavy and I’d barely scraped in at the exact baggage limit so wanted to layer as much as possible. In any case, I’d already decided upon changing as I didn’t want to be dressed that way when arriving in Tanzania. Only thing is, the only loos are in the Airport section before you collect your luggage so I sought special permission to re-enter once I’d collected my luggage and the kindest, most sweetest cleaner even helped me balance my luggage in the loo and looked after it whilst I was changing in the cubicles. 

Earlier I’d noticed that at immigration, they take a whole group of passports and entry forms then randomly call names out. For some reason, only some people had their passports handed back whilst others had to collect their passports from the counter and get their fingerprints scanned. Yup! My travelling buddy and I both got scanned! Felt like a criminal but on the plus side, at least it was a scanner and not old fashioned ink and paper! Plus later, an Uncle of mine said that he’d had it done too. Just wondering how my left hand would go as I have calloused tips from playing guitar. Speaking of, my guitar survived but I’ve purposely left her in Dar Es Salaam as even I don’t think I’d have the energy to carry her up Mt Kilimanjaro!

Yuck! Just spotted a lizard in our room… Ewwwwwwwwwwww! I must not be afraid. I must not be afraid. I must not be afraid! We were met at the Airport by a lovely Uncle of ours. It’s funny to think that we actually met him as eight year olds when he’d just began dating our Aunt. One young man introduced himself to us but as soon as he gave us his name, all formality flew out the window and there were hugs all ‘round as I go “Well of course we know you! We met you when you were a baby in Dodoma!” My sister kindly reminded us all that during that first trip to Tanzania as eight year olds, this cousin of ours had actually wet me twice. Don’t know what the hell it is as the same thing happened at a women’s hospital back in Perth during a school excursion. All our cousin could do was laugh with the rest though like me, I’m pretty sure that he was a bit embarrassed by the story. Thanks Big sis’! We had a six hour layover ‘til our Kilimanjaro bound flight so our Uncle drove us to Southern Sun Hotel so we could freshen up, relax and take in a bit of Dar Es Salaam. Apart from alcohol, soft drinks are the way to go over here so I received a few odd looks when I ordered sparkling water but I am determined to stay on my dentist’s good side! The conversion rate still messes with my head but I was surprised to discover that our order amounted to just a fraction of what meals and drinks amount to back home. 

Our drive back to Julius Nyerere Airport took forever and a day. I’d read about the notorious traffic jams but thought nothing of it. We had over 2hrs ‘til our flight took off and it had taken less than 20 minutes to drive to the hotel restaurant in the CBD.  The thing is, traffic seemingly appeared from nowhere! A couple of interesting shortcuts were taken but traffic just would not budge and people are funny and mad as drivers here but surprisingly, I didn’t get panicky or cross and just relaxed even as our lead time disappeared. It would go from 1740hrs to 1800hrs to 1830hrs to 1845hrs. We arrived at the Airport at 1850hrs and met a most beloved Aunt of ours who’d been waiting and waiting but due to the late hour, we spent about 3mins with her as we had to check-in for our Fastjet flights. Yup, Fastjet which is a budget liner and sounds like the many that are cropping out of South East Asia/Australia/Europe. 

Entry into the domestic section was awful… For some reason, at the final check point (despite already having my bags x-rayed upon entering the terminal) my carry-on was checked and items removed. There were questions about what this and that were etc… I didn’t have any attitude but I think my face was telling and I kept telling my buddy to go as I didn’t want both of us missing our flights and the guy goes “You won’t miss your flight!” There were quite a lot of things that were still in their packaging and were even see through with clear directions yet I still had to open them. My buddy had virtually similar things packed but lucky me I guess! Never thought body heat pads or energy bars would halt me at an Airport. The Kili flight was short. Meant to be an 1hr 5mins but was more like 45mins and we got talking to this Masai man who was sat with us though I buggered off soon after to take advantage of the couple of empty rows to rest (I’d had bad cramping the entire SAA flight and at one stage was even resting my head on my friend’s lap) but rested for less than what felt like 20mins as it was time to descend soon after so rejoined them. Every flight has been really good with the whole lactose thing but it’s taken a bit of getting used to the puzzled looks from people wondering why I and a few others receive our food first. And because I’m me, I still nicked some dessert off the person next to me and really have to compliment SAA on my Dar Es Salaam bound food. It was all vegetarian and tasted like something my Mother would make. Delish! Unless your partner is a wizard in the kitchen, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that the best home cooking you’ve ever tasted comes from your Mothers!

I still can’t believe that I’m in Tanzania. Actually in the United Republic of Tanzania! We had a van pick us up from Kilimanjaro Airport and true to their word, our welcomer had a sign with our name on it which was cool. From the late night version of Moshi that I’ve seen so far, I like it up here and it’s nice and cold. Blissfully cold. We’re really glad that we arrived in Moshi a couple of days early as it has meant that we have an extra few days to rest and do a bit of exploring. Tomorrow is the official start of the tour but we only have a pre-departure meeting scheduled for tomorrow night with our guide and the rest of the team. Day 2 will involve us hiking for 6 to 7 hours travelling 18km. We’ll be driven an hour away to Machame village so our starting altitude will be 1490m finishing up at 2980m. Believe it or not but the terrain is going to vary drastically from day to day.  For our first day of trekking, our habitat will mostly be rainforest along the lower slopes followed by Moorland and very cold temperatures. Bring it on!

There’ve already been a few laughs along the way from my buddy obsessing over how round our hotel room is to the two of us seeing a red bottomed monkey with a pair of blue bollocks. For those of you who know me and the occasional (very rare) moments of cheek… Believe me when I say that I’m not kidding. I’ve filmed footage and could not believe my eyes. If I’ve said it before then I’ll say it again… God has the most twisted, funniest sense of humour. Well he’d have to have one to create we crazy bi-peds and these monkeys with red bums and blue balls. They’re known as the Vervet monkey for those doubting Thomases amongst you.

The title of this post comes from a YouTube clip that I watched. I have seen so many Kili videos and one clip contained some trekking and you get to hear a conversation between some locals with one asking “How are you?/Habari gani?” to which the gent replied “Poa kichizi, kama ndizi/Cool like a sweet banana!” Now all of my cousins laughed when I said this but the guy we spoke to on the plane said that as long as you’re under 40 you can say it so… I’m going to say it when asked how I am.

- Habari gani?
- Poa kichizi, kama ndizi!

Right, time to bid you adieu from the low lands of the slopes of Kilimanjaro. Lala salaama as they say here… 

L

pipsqueakandcider:

POA KICHIZI, KAMA NDIZI

We left Perth for Johannesburg on an 11 hour flight close to an hour late but our pilot made for lost ground and we arrived not too long after our scheduled arrival. Had a good siesta inside the International transfers area of OR Tambo International in Joberg then made our way to our connecting flight. Did the usual merry dance of showing our passports, boarding passes, loaded our carry on luggage into containers to be x-rayed then hopped on the Dar Es Salaam bound flight. There were some absolutely stellar bits of scenery that we got to see flying overhead and I got a real kick out of seeing African cities on the departures screen. Dar Es Salaam here we come!

We were sat right at the front of the economy section with a spare seat between us which came in handy when it came time to eat. Do you know how phones and tablets have to be switched off during take off and landing but are allowed to be in aeroplane mode during the actual flight? Well this woman across from us kept on staring at me and I couldn’t figure out why so just kept on with my own thing until over an hour later when she motioned at my tablet and said “Off! Off!” The irony is, I wasn’t sure if planes in Africa would allow me to have my devices on so had asked the flight attendant who gave me the a-okay. I tried explaining it to this woman but fancy being annoyed and pointedly staring at someone for over an hour. I get that she was concerned as that is a safety issue but if that were me, I’d talk to the flight attendant or just say “Hey, I think that should be turned off guys.”

We got to Julius Nyerere Airport and the humidity very nearly knocked the wind out of my sales. One of the visa processing guys at immigration joked about kangaroos and suggested I change my outfit as it was too hot. I was basically dressed as an eskimo ‘cause my Kilimanjaro gear is quite heavy and I’d barely scraped in at the exact baggage limit so wanted to layer as much as possible. In any case, I’d already decided upon changing as I didn’t want to be dressed that way when arriving in Tanzania. Only thing is, the only loos are in the Airport section before you collect your luggage so I sought special permission to re-enter once I’d collected my luggage and the kindest, most sweetest cleaner even helped me balance my luggage in the loo and looked after it whilst I was changing in the cubicles.

Earlier I’d noticed that at immigration, they take a whole group of passports and entry forms then randomly call names out. For some reason, only some people had their passports handed back whilst others had to collect their passports from the counter and get their fingerprints scanned. Yup! My travelling buddy and I both got scanned! Felt like a criminal but on the plus side, at least it was a scanner and not old fashioned ink and paper! Plus later, an Uncle of mine said that he’d had it done too. Just wondering how my left hand would go as I have calloused tips from playing guitar. Speaking of, my guitar survived but I’ve purposely left her in Dar Es Salaam as even I don’t think I’d have the energy to carry her up Mt Kilimanjaro!

Yuck! Just spotted a lizard in our room… Ewwwwwwwwwwww! I must not be afraid. I must not be afraid. I must not be afraid! We were met at the Airport by a lovely Uncle of ours. It’s funny to think that we actually met him as eight year olds when he’d just began dating our Aunt. One young man introduced himself to us but as soon as he gave us his name, all formality flew out the window and there were hugs all ‘round as I go “Well of course we know you! We met you when you were a baby in Dodoma!” My sister kindly reminded us all that during that first trip to Tanzania as eight year olds, this cousin of ours had actually wet me twice. Don’t know what the hell it is as the same thing happened at a women’s hospital back in Perth during a school excursion. All our cousin could do was laugh with the rest though like me, I’m pretty sure that he was a bit embarrassed by the story. Thanks Big sis’! We had a six hour layover ‘til our Kilimanjaro bound flight so our Uncle drove us to Southern Sun Hotel so we could freshen up, relax and take in a bit of Dar Es Salaam. Apart from alcohol, soft drinks are the way to go over here so I received a few odd looks when I ordered sparkling water but I am determined to stay on my dentist’s good side! The conversion rate still messes with my head but I was surprised to discover that our order amounted to just a fraction of what meals and drinks amount to back home.

Our drive back to Julius Nyerere Airport took forever and a day. I’d read about the notorious traffic jams but thought nothing of it. We had over 2hrs ‘til our flight took off and it had taken less than 20 minutes to drive to the hotel restaurant in the CBD. The thing is, traffic seemingly appeared from nowhere! A couple of interesting shortcuts were taken but traffic just would not budge and people are funny and mad as drivers here but surprisingly, I didn’t get panicky or cross and just relaxed even as our lead time disappeared. It would go from 1740hrs to 1800hrs to 1830hrs to 1845hrs. We arrived at the Airport at 1850hrs and met a most beloved Aunt of ours who’d been waiting and waiting but due to the late hour, we spent about 3mins with her as we had to check-in for our Fastjet flights. Yup, Fastjet which is a budget liner and sounds like the many that are cropping out of South East Asia/Australia/Europe.

Entry into the domestic section was awful… For some reason, at the final check point (despite already having my bags x-rayed upon entering the terminal) my carry-on was checked and items removed. There were questions about what this and that were etc… I didn’t have any attitude but I think my face was telling and I kept telling my buddy to go as I didn’t want both of us missing our flights and the guy goes “You won’t miss your flight!” There were quite a lot of things that were still in their packaging and were even see through with clear directions yet I still had to open them. My buddy had virtually similar things packed but lucky me I guess! Never thought body heat pads or energy bars would halt me at an Airport. The Kili flight was short. Meant to be an 1hr 5mins but was more like 45mins and we got talking to this Masai man who was sat with us though I buggered off soon after to take advantage of the couple of empty rows to rest (I’d had bad cramping the entire SAA flight and at one stage was even resting my head on my friend’s lap) but rested for less than what felt like 20mins as it was time to descend soon after so rejoined them. Every flight has been really good with the whole lactose thing but it’s taken a bit of getting used to the puzzled looks from people wondering why I and a few others receive our food first. And because I’m me, I still nicked some dessert off the person next to me and really have to compliment SAA on my Dar Es Salaam bound food. It was all vegetarian and tasted like something my Mother would make. Delish! Unless your partner is a wizard in the kitchen, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that the best home cooking you’ve ever tasted comes from your Mothers!

I still can’t believe that I’m in Tanzania. Actually in the United Republic of Tanzania! We had a van pick us up from Kilimanjaro Airport and true to their word, our welcomer had a sign with our name on it which was cool. From the late night version of Moshi that I’ve seen so far, I like it up here and it’s nice and cold. Blissfully cold. We’re really glad that we arrived in Moshi a couple of days early as it has meant that we have an extra few days to rest and do a bit of exploring. Tomorrow is the official start of the tour but we only have a pre-departure meeting scheduled for tomorrow night with our guide and the rest of the team. Day 2 will involve us hiking for 6 to 7 hours travelling 18km. We’ll be driven an hour away to Machame village so our starting altitude will be 1490m finishing up at 2980m. Believe it or not but the terrain is going to vary drastically from day to day. For our first day of trekking, our habitat will mostly be rainforest along the lower slopes followed by Moorland and very cold temperatures. Bring it on!

There’ve already been a few laughs along the way from my buddy obsessing over how round our hotel room is to the two of us seeing a red bottomed monkey with a pair of blue bollocks. For those of you who know me and the occasional (very rare) moments of cheek… Believe me when I say that I’m not kidding. I’ve filmed footage and could not believe my eyes. If I’ve said it before then I’ll say it again… God has the most twisted, funniest sense of humour. Well he’d have to have one to create we crazy bi-peds and these monkeys with red bums and blue balls. They’re known as the Vervet monkey for those doubting Thomases amongst you.

The title of this post comes from a YouTube clip that I watched. I have seen so many Kili videos and one clip contained some trekking and you get to hear a conversation between some locals with one asking “How are you?/Habari gani?” to which the gent replied “Poa kichizi, kama ndizi/Cool like a sweet banana!” Now all of my cousins laughed when I said this but the guy we spoke to on the plane said that as long as you’re under 40 you can say it so… I’m going to say it when asked how I am.

- Habari gani?
- Poa kichizi, kama ndizi!

Right, time to bid you adieu from the low lands of the slopes of Kilimanjaro. Lala salaama as they say here… L

pipsqueakandcider:

Day three in Tanzania signalled the official start of our tour when we unexpectedly met our tour representative following we twins taking off on our own for a 90 minute walk in Moshi. We’d chosen to go exploring after breakfast to try to and catch sight of Kilimanjaro. The stroll was a lovely one though I felt like I’d had a bit of a workout. It wasn’t until we turned around that we realised that we’d been walking uphill but the gradient is so subtle we couldn’t see it on the way up. Much like I did in Israel last year, I’m focused on mainly footage but took a few shots and screenshots from the footage already taken which you can see here.

I’ve never really been big on flowers until I caught sight of the sunflower many moons ago. Plus anyone who is a fan of either Vincent Van Gogh or ‘Doctor Who’ will no doubt have seen the beautifully penned ‘Vincent and the Doctor’ in which Vincent is inspired to paint his famous ‘Vase with Twelve Sunflowers’ when he sees Amelia Pond sitting amongst sunflowers. As soon as I saw these giant sunflowers, all I could think of funnily enough was Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold’.

Late this afternoon we met the rest of our tour group. We’ll just be the six of us (some groups are as large as 12 so we’re pretty stoked to be quite small). One person won’t be arriving ‘til after 2100hrs but the rest of us met at our briefing. Suzi hails all the way from Colorado. Liv and her husband Kjell (pronounced Charl) come from Norway and of course we twins from the West coast in Australia but originally from Tanzania. It’s such a full circle moment… 30 something years later going on one of our biggest adventures in our country of birth where we get to hear about our history, hear of tales from the mountain and push ourselves like never before.

The tour rep kept saying that we should think of ourselves as soldiers when it comes to summit day as that’ll be the hardest. “As soldiers, never give up until the end of the war.” I think having my twin there with me, the fact that summit day marks a special day for us already plus the fact that the Norwegian fellow seems to be a bit of a comedian will certainly bolster our spirits. Yes, I’m usually the jester but I’m not much fun when I’m properly tired so send prayers, send love and A LOT of good cheer our way! I’m sure we’ll all feel it from over here in TZ plus I read on a board somewhere online that folks often bring something of sentimental value to spur them on, I won’t reveal my thing until after the mountain climb (this’ll most likely be my final post until I return from the mountain) but it was a gift from someone I love to bits and signifies something that makes me really happy so that + having a rellie with me + a couple of cards from friends but more importantly I think it’s having a humble heart when it comes to how I’m going to approach this journey that ought to hold me in good stead I feel. I’ll be sensible and as our tour rep said, “You have seven days but only one chance…” so I know that I won’t be playing silly buggers when it comes to following orders and will definitely be going pole, pole (slowly, slowly) as they say here.

There are some interesting things that have cropped up already. We were given the speech about the long drop toilet and for the record, I have had experience with them before but the whole process has never been explained in quite a humorous way ” You put this leg here, that leg over there and you see the sh#t waiting for you!” If we don’t manage to wait until we reach camp, we’re to inform our guide that we either need to go leave a short message or a long message. That caused quite a bit of laughter from everyone and then I explained how back home, we talk about watering the garden or dropping the kids off at the pool but their “leaving a message” sounds perfect. During the briefing, we heard some loud music and me being me I had to run to it. A bit like the Pied Piper I think… It was just extraordinary. There was a wedding party with car loads of people and an actual brass band playing for the processional. The thing is, there were three separate wedding parties and three separate brass bands and we later discovered that Sal Salinero is a bit like Kings Park. For those of you not playing at home… Kings Park is where most wedding parties go for their official wedding photography and yesterday on my way to my room, I’d come across a wedding party and did my best to avoid ending up in any photographs which was a bit hard as one party took photos outside our hut/room. Today I ducked behind a bush to avoid being in any videos too! The pictures don’t do the sounds and ordered chaos justice (you’ll have to wait for the video) but wow, wow, wow Tanzania… It’s only day three and yet you’ve already put on quite a show for me. What’s next I wonder?

Fast forward to a couple of hours later. Our group had a lovely dinner and just got to know one another better. We’re working on a group name. So far ‘the Survivors’ (thanks Exilema) seems to be our nickname but we’ll decide tomorrow after meeting our final group member. Discovered that Liv and Kjell are here celebrating 25 years of marriage as well as visiting their daughter who is studying nursing in Tanga. Suzi up and sold her house and has been volunteering with children in orphanages and her next stop will be in Zimbabwe to help with some animals. We learnt that Australians pronounce Ikea incorrectly… It’s actually “eeh-kay-ah” but I think I’ll just keep on with the old way.

So, we’re about to turn in. Suzi, my twin and I are practising our broken Swahili with two of the locals. We make it to our room and I’m about to unlock the door when I spot the most frightful thing I’ve seen since last year’s huntsman spider experience. I don’t like things that jump. Not crickets, not the praying mantis or locusts. My fear stems from a locust plague that hit my hometown when I was a child. It seemed the smart thing to do at the time but my friends and I walked through the school oval when a whole swarm began jumping. I ran like there was no tomorrow and ever since I’ve been terrified of jumping critters so go on… Have a guess as to what greeted me as I happened to look up! A giant praying mantis and there were two on the neighbouring door and unbeknownst to me, one above my head on the ceiling. We went to reception and the fellows that we had been practising Swahili with earlier ended up helping us. They laughed at first and thank God my twin remembered the word Mum used when we were children for insect. Iddi just grabbed it in his hand and walked a few metres away to place each one in the garden. I’m still getting used to the whole tipping thing but that boy more than earnt this tip. He seemed surprised but I don’t do cricket-like creatures. Heck, a good friend of mine and her hubby have a house cricket that they’ve nicknamed Jiminy and because I was staying over, they obliged and took him outside as I was too frightened to have it in the house. Yuck, yuck, yuck and so of course in trying to figure out what those giant monsters were, I just had to go on Google and boy do I regret that. I think I’d have happily spent the rest of my life knowing nothing at all about the existence of the orchid mantis, spiny flower mantis, thistle mantis and the Nigerian flower mantis. Have a look at this: http://amazinglist.net/2013/03/7-amazing-species-of-flower-praying-mantises/ Be sure to let me know if you did then we can lament together about what our eyes cannot unsee. Oh dear. Well I’m glad they had a bit of a laugh and it’s a story for the books but dear Father in Heaven… Tomorrow I’ll be in rainforest. What sorts of creatures am I going to meet there?!?!? Right, so a rare early night for me I think. We’ll be walking 18km tomorrow and will finish the day at an altitude of 2980m. I’m looking at our itinerary and see that the day after will also take 6 to 7hrs and yet our total distance for the day will be just 9km but as we’ll be hiking through steep moorland, it’ll be equally as tough as tomorrow. How can something that sounds so exhausting seem so exciting? Definitely humbling figures to read! Right, allons-y!

pipsqueakandcider:

Sunday 1st June, 2014 [Day 1 Machame Gate to Machame Camp]

Hiking Time: 6-7 hrs/Total Distance: 18km/Starting Altitude: 1490m/Final Altitude: 2980m/Habitat: Rainforest

The drive through Machame Village was a relatively quiet one. Sounds of the porters and CEOs talking in Swahili fill the bus. Met a couple of Aussies from New South Wales and Tassie as we wait to ascend. There’s some kind of hold up in the registry office as the Internet is down but it’s a good time to get to know one another or in my case, get some much needed sleep whilst I still can!

Fast forward to a couple of hours later… I struggled during the steep parts. On a number of occasions, the CEOs told me to take my time and not try to catch up with everyone else. One nice lady gave me a pep talk. The mind is willing but the flesh is weak. Loved the rainforest and saw a couple of black and white monkeys. Silly me tried to get in close but frightened the poor buggers away.

Times seems to run differently up here much like in Narnia. The evenings pass by slowly. I go to bed then wake up feeling well rested as if I’ve had a lie in when in reality, I’ve hours more sleep owing to me. It’s a trend I’m noticing so I guess even though my sleep routine is pretty messed up in my day to day life, the old body clock kicks in when I’m away. Yay, we made it to Machame Campsite. Basically buggered but what a start!

pipsqueakandcider:

Sunday 1st June, 2014 [Day 1 Machame Gate to Machame Camp]

Hiking Time: 6-7 hrs/Total Distance: 18km/Starting Altitude: 1490m/Final Altitude: 2980m/Habitat: Rainforest

The drive through Machame Village was a relatively quiet one. Sounds of the porters and CEOs talking in Swahili fill the bus. Met a couple of Aussies from New South Wales and Tassie as we wait to ascend. There’s some kind of hold up in the registry office as the Internet is down but it’s a good time to get to know one another or in my case, get some much needed sleep whilst I still can!

Fast forward to a couple of hours later… I struggled during the steep parts. On a number of occasions, the CEOs told me to take my time and not try to catch up with everyone else. One nice lady gave me a pep talk. The mind is willing but the flesh is weak. Loved the rainforest and saw a couple of black and white monkeys. Silly me tried to get in close but frightened the poor buggers away.

Times seems to run differently up here much like in Narnia. The evenings pass by slowly. I go to bed then wake up feeling well rested as if I’ve had a lie in when in reality, I’ve hours more sleep owing to me. It’s a trend I’m noticing so I guess even though my sleep routine is pretty messed up in my day to day life, the old body clock kicks in when I’m away. Yay, we made it to Machame Campsite. Basically buggered but what a start!

pipsqueakandcider:

Monday 2nd June, 2014 [Day 2 Machame Camo to Shira II Camp]

Hiking Time: 6-7 hrs/Total Distance: 9km/Starting Altitude: 2980m/Final Altitude: 3840m/Habitat: Moorland

We have three CEOs, Albert, Joseph and today’s hero… Fortunatis who we all call 42 as his name is hard to pronounce. Where yesterday, I was at the back, today I was at the front but not through any skill on my part. Fortunatis thought it would be best if I were to “copy and paste” his every step. To start with, I felt a bit self conscious but everyone paced themselves pretty well. From time to time our group would split in two but with three CEOs between the six of us, that was fine. My twin and I have taken to calling one of the women ‘Mama Suzi’ as she has already looked after just about everyone on the team. I felt good today and was determined to only stop when the CEOs gave us rest breaks. It’s a real mental fight because you know that this day alone involves five to six hours of steep walking through moorland but you want a break but if you do have an unsanctioned break, it’ll just take you longer. Which would you choose?

Used walking poles quite a bit. There were times when even they couldn’t save me as we had to pull ourselves up onto rocks and climb monkey style. I did not see that coming! From virtually the get go, all I could hear was this slow, heavy breathing followed by a whistling sound. Took me a while to figure out that it was coming from me! So tired. Had the giggles with my sister at dinner time… Fatigue has set in. I’m a fast eater and what we were served was absolutely brill but it took forever and a day to eat. Kept trying to stay awake. Felt like slow motion. No energy. The cold maybe? Wearing gloves and hoodies now. I didn’t care for the scenery or take time to look as it gets in the way of the rhythm I had going. When we’d break or someone would point out a particular site, I would look but too distracting otherwise. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, step, step, left foot. Get to camp. Shoes off. Sleep! Shira Campsite is c-c-c-cold.

pipsqueakandcider:

Monday 2nd June, 2014 [Day 2 Machame Camo to Shira II Camp]

Hiking Time: 6-7 hrs/Total Distance: 9km/Starting Altitude: 2980m/Final Altitude: 3840m/Habitat: Moorland

We have three CEOs, Albert, Joseph and today’s hero… Fortunatis who we all call 42 as his name is hard to pronounce. Where yesterday, I was at the back, today I was at the front but not through any skill on my part. Fortunatis thought it would be best if I were to “copy and paste” his every step. To start with, I felt a bit self conscious but everyone paced themselves pretty well. From time to time our group would split in two but with three CEOs between the six of us, that was fine. My twin and I have taken to calling one of the women ‘Mama Suzi’ as she has already looked after just about everyone on the team. I felt good today and was determined to only stop when the CEOs gave us rest breaks. It’s a real mental fight because you know that this day alone involves five to six hours of steep walking through moorland but you want a break but if you do have an unsanctioned break, it’ll just take you longer. Which would you choose?

Used walking poles quite a bit. There were times when even they couldn’t save me as we had to pull ourselves up onto rocks and climb monkey style. I did not see that coming! From virtually the get go, all I could hear was this slow, heavy breathing followed by a whistling sound. Took me a while to figure out that it was coming from me! So tired. Had the giggles with my sister at dinner time… Fatigue has set in. I’m a fast eater and what we were served was absolutely brill but it took forever and a day to eat. Kept trying to stay awake. Felt like slow motion. No energy. The cold maybe? Wearing gloves and hoodies now. I didn’t care for the scenery or take time to look as it gets in the way of the rhythm I had going. When we’d break or someone would point out a particular site, I would look but too distracting otherwise. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, step, step, left foot. Get to camp. Shoes off. Sleep! Shira Campsite is c-c-c-cold.

pipsqueakandcider:

Tuesday 3rd June, 2014 [Day 3 Shira II Camp to Barranco Camp]

Hiking Time: 7-8 hrs/Total Distance: 15km/Starting Altitude: 3840m/Final Altitude: 3950m (via 4630m)/Habitat: Montane Semi-Desert

Up and ready to face the world at 0600hrs. We set off but I feel off. Headaches, listless and all I want to do is sleep. I fell like I’m sleep-walking. We had a 6-7hrs walk but I kept on slowly. Very out of it. We trek via Lava Tower at an altitude of 4630m the descend back down 600m into Barranco Valley. I know that it’s gorgeous and have a vague memory of being recorded and asked about my thoughts. Goodness knows what I said. Kilimanjaro really took it out of me today. Feel broken.

pipsqueakandcider:

Tuesday 3rd June, 2014 [Day 3 Shira II Camp to Barranco Camp]

Hiking Time: 7-8 hrs/Total Distance: 15km/Starting Altitude: 3840m/Final Altitude: 3950m (via 4630m)/Habitat: Montane Semi-Desert

Up and ready to face the world at 0600hrs. We set off but I feel off. Headaches, listless and all I want to do is sleep. I fell like I’m sleep-walking. We had a 6-7hrs walk but I kept on slowly. Very out of it. We trek via Lava Tower at an altitude of 4630m the descend back down 600m into Barranco Valley. I know that it’s gorgeous and have a vague memory of being recorded and asked about my thoughts. Goodness knows what I said. Kilimanjaro really took it out of me today. Feel broken.

pipsqueakandcider:

Wednesday 4th June, 2014 [Day 4 Barranco camp to Karanga Camp]

Hiking Time: 4-5 hrs/Total Distance: 8km/Starting Altitude: 3950m/Final Altitude: 3900m /Habitat: Alpine Desert

I thought that our guide was joking when he said that the imposing rock face that was our camp view would be our next…

pipsqueakandcider:

Thursday 5th June, 2014 [Day 5 Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp]

Hiking Time: 4 hrs/Total Distance: 4 km/Starting Altitude: 3900m/Final Altitude: 4550m /Habitat: Alpine Desert

Cold. Short day in preparation for tonight’s summit hike. Can feel the wind a lot. Alpine desert not what I expected. Feels lonely and very hard. One of the porters meets me about 200 metres from today’s new campsite and he and the CEO help me walk to my tent. Burst into tears upon entering the camp. The body’s a tough old engine but that last 40 mins…

pipsqueakandcider:

Thursday 5th June, 2014 [Day 5 Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp]

Hiking Time: 4 hrs/Total Distance: 4 km/Starting Altitude: 3900m/Final Altitude: 4550m /Habitat: Alpine Desert

Cold. Short day in preparation for tonight’s summit hike. Can feel the wind a lot. Alpine desert not what I expected. Feels lonely and very hard. One of the porters meets me about 200 metres from today’s new campsite and he and the CEO help me walk to my tent. Burst into tears upon entering the camp. The body’s a tough old engine but that last 40 mins…

pipsqueakandcider:

Friday 6th June, 2014 [Day 6 Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Camp]

Hiking Time: 7 hrs to summit, 7-8hrs descent/Total Distance: 7km to summit, 23km descent/Starting Altitude: 4550m/Summit Altitude: 5895m – Uhuru Peak/Final Altitude: 3100m
Habitat: Stone Scree, ice capped summit, Alpine desert

We’re supposed to finish at Mweka Camp but we’re all so tired, we stay at Barafu (4550m) following our trek up the summit. This means, it’ll take longer to descend on our final day. We have dinner and are given a few hours of sleep. We’re woken and ready to set off for Uhuru Peak at 2330hrs on the night of the 5th June. The plan is to watch the sunrise from Stella Point (5756m).

This is serious business now. I mean properly, properly serious. You have your rock faces that can scare. You can have severe winds and mist blocking your view but this particular trek has two things that make all the difference… The Midnight hour hence the cold AND the fact that we’re now using our head lamps for the first time plus the constant zig-zag uphill. On paper, a distance of 7km can be run in less than 35mins. It can be cycled in less than 15mins. Try walking it but due to the severe steepness, the route is a constant zig-zag that at times, has you near a cliff edge and you’re treading on snow. 

So, here’s the thing. I only remember bits and pieces from today. I recall asking the time and one CEO (Fortunatis) saying it was half twelve so I wish my sister a “Happy Birthday!” I remember getting separated from the group as my body just conked out on me at around 0300hrs. I remember the CEO I was with constantly asking me my name, rubbing my (three layered) gloved hands amd he kept telling me not to go to sleep. I have a vivid memory of it taking 10 seconds for me to make three steps and this CEO repeatedly asking me what I wanted. I said:
- “I don’t care anymore.”
- “I just want to go to sleep. Just sleep.”
- “I’m going home now.”

I recall being told that it would take two hours to get to the top and two and half to get down. I got cross, thought that that was stupid and the only thing, THE ONLY reason why I went up was because of a woman who was probably up there waiting for me and her name is Exilema. That is the only reason.  No one back home would mind if I gave up. I’d already made it to 4550m at Barafu Camp plus whatever the hell hundred metres I’d added over the last couple of hours. I was completely out of it then put some music on… My running playlist as it happens. With daytime, you can keep your head down, remain oblivious and keep going. As it was night time, even in your peripheral vision, you could see headlamps below and above you and all they did was show how much zig-zagging I had yet to do to get to Stella Point and then Uhuru Peak. Likewise with the headlamps below… That was even further to our camp. The music cured me instantly. Just imagine this idiot up there with her head bopping from side to side with some crazy beats, dance numbers and old school bass just moving me along and making me dance. It was the only thing keeping me warm. That’s one thing I don’t believe I’ve mentioned as yet. From day two onwards, every time you take a break and you get hot and tired and feel sweaty, you sit for a bit or even stand but mere minutes later you’re freezing like you wouldn’t believe. I’m conscious of the fact that there was a distance of space that ought to have taken 20mins but it took me 50 to 60 mins. The music put me back on track for a good 30 to 40 mins but then fatigue set in again. I loved the camaraderie between different porters, group leaders and tourists (some of whom mistook me for my twin or I got to pass on messages to her).

The guide who was with me had radioed ahead to the others that I would be descending. Soon after, we lost contact. We made contact close to an hour later and even though I only understood about one out of every ten or so Swahili words, I knew that the guide hadn’t let the others know that I would continue to ascend. His advice to me was that I head up to Stella Point, rest and have tea with the rest of the team then we all descend. There were a blur of faces and voices pushing me and encouraging me and I know that I have a wickedly vivid imagination but I’m pretty sure that even I couldn’t conjure a little twerp shouting to anyone who could hear “Oh, this is (sic) piece of cake. Walk in (sic) park.” Usually I’m all for a South American accent but not this time (may have been Spanish or Portuguese) but really? Really? You see tens of people struggling and THAT’s what you choose to say? Freud won’t have a field day with me as that wasn’t a hallucination plus a lot of his theories have proven to be rather dated anyway but seriously, what a cretinous thing to be shouting. 

There were a few familiar faces along the way that registered with me. I know that I only made it because my guide had my hand and told me to step, keep walking, you will make it, you are a hero plus thoughts of my twin and constantly asking Jesus for help! Meanwhile I’m in sleep walking mode, barely walking 1metre per hour. I didn’t even have the mental capacity to take a photograph of the sunrise. It’s only thanks to Senõr Albert that I have sunrise shots and quite a few action shots. I’m quite hunched over from fatigue in a few shots but boy does the sunrise set against the clouds below look great! I heard singing and something about “dada” which means sister amd it wasn’t until the people came running to me that I realised that they were the rest of the CEOs, my team and my twin. They were very surprised. I still wasn’t with it and a fellow trekker handed me a honey nut bar. Much like the chocolate the CEO had tried to give me from my day pack, I took one bite, don’t recall chewing then plonked it somewhere. It wasn’t until much later that I heard Albert had eaten it on my behalf. The dude deserves more… I physically would not have made it to Stella Point without his aid. In as much as results don’t matter and nothing can take away from the previous days of trekking and crossing so many different terrains and weather conditions, I am so damn glad that when it counted, I thought of one thing… One person to get me up there and yay, I still get a certificate. The others are absolutely brilliant for reaching the peak of Africa (Uhuru Peak 5895 metres) and will receive a gold certificate whereas I’ll receive green one for reaching Stella Point (5756 metres). 

I’m an introvert and have been sharing a tent with someone and have been surround by a trekking group of five others plus three CEOs plus the 15 or so porters and chef. We had to quickly make our way back down to camp but as fatigued as I was, I couldn’t and wouldn’t eat lunch and only partook of our afternoon tea of popcorn and tea because someone brought it into my tent. It wasn’t even that I was in a mood. I just had no physical energy and no mental reserve to fit anything or anyone in. Days earlier, I’d shared with my fellow trekkers that I’d spent (read as struggled for) close to 20 mins trying to remove an item from my duffel bag and that I’d unnsuccessfully spent a lot of time trying to put on a third pair of trousers. The mind is willing but the flesh is weak. In complete awe of the CEOs (Joseph, Fortunatis and Albert who we now know is called ‘Man Africa’) and the porters who we’re slowly getting to know. What they do, the physical demands made upon them as they carry our main belongings and tent equipment, the fact that they do it far quicker than us even though they leave after we set of gust amazes me. Utterly amazing. After dinner the lights went off in the mess tent and I’m thinking “But we’re all still in here having our nightly post-dinner debrief” and that’s when I see the birthday cake and candles. Despite what I’d said to Exilema at half twelve that morning, I’d truly forgotten what the date was, we’d trekked for hours ascending, descending, had an hours siesta then had to trek to a lower camp all in the one day so nothing at all about that day felt like the sixth June. Very well played to all the porters, CEOs and Chef who’d planned this before this tour had even begun. A lot of memories and certainly not what one would expect at 4000+ metres above sea level!

pipsqueakandcider:

Friday 6th June, 2014 [Day 6 Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Camp]

Hiking Time: 7 hrs to summit, 7-8hrs descent/Total Distance: 7km to summit, 23km descent/Starting Altitude: 4550m/Summit Altitude: 5895m – Uhuru Peak/Final Altitude: 3100m
Habitat: Stone Scree, ice capped summit, Alpine desert

We’re supposed to finish at Mweka Camp but we’re all so tired, we stay at Barafu (4550m) following our trek up the summit. This means, it’ll take longer to descend on our final day. We have dinner and are given a few hours of sleep. We’re woken and ready to set off for Uhuru Peak at 2330hrs on the night of the 5th June. The plan is to watch the sunrise from Stella Point (5756m).

This is serious business now. I mean properly, properly serious. You have your rock faces that can scare. You can have severe winds and mist blocking your view but this particular trek has two things that make all the difference… The Midnight hour hence the cold AND the fact that we’re now using our head lamps for the first time plus the constant zig-zag uphill. On paper, a distance of 7km can be run in less than 35mins. It can be cycled in less than 15mins. Try walking it but due to the severe steepness, the route is a constant zig-zag that at times, has you near a cliff edge and you’re treading on snow.

So, here’s the thing. I only remember bits and pieces from today. I recall asking the time and one CEO (Fortunatis) saying it was half twelve so I wish my sister a “Happy Birthday!” I remember getting separated from the group as my body just conked out on me at around 0300hrs. I remember the CEO I was with constantly asking me my name, rubbing my (three layered) gloved hands amd he kept telling me not to go to sleep. I have a vivid memory of it taking 10 seconds for me to make three steps and this CEO repeatedly asking me what I wanted. I said:
- “I don’t care anymore.”
- “I just want to go to sleep. Just sleep.”
- “I’m going home now.”

I recall being told that it would take two hours to get to the top and two and half to get down. I got cross, thought that that was stupid and the only thing, THE ONLY reason why I went up was because of a woman who was probably up there waiting for me and her name is Exilema. That is the only reason. No one back home would mind if I gave up. I’d already made it to 4550m at Barafu Camp plus whatever the hell hundred metres I’d added over the last couple of hours. I was completely out of it then put some music on… My running playlist as it happens. With daytime, you can keep your head down, remain oblivious and keep going. As it was night time, even in your peripheral vision, you could see headlamps below and above you and all they did was show how much zig-zagging I had yet to do to get to Stella Point and then Uhuru Peak. Likewise with the headlamps below… That was even further to our camp. The music cured me instantly. Just imagine this idiot up there with her head bopping from side to side with some crazy beats, dance numbers and old school bass just moving me along and making me dance. It was the only thing keeping me warm. That’s one thing I don’t believe I’ve mentioned as yet. From day two onwards, every time you take a break and you get hot and tired and feel sweaty, you sit for a bit or even stand but mere minutes later you’re freezing like you wouldn’t believe. I’m conscious of the fact that there was a distance of space that ought to have taken 20mins but it took me 50 to 60 mins. The music put me back on track for a good 30 to 40 mins but then fatigue set in again. I loved the camaraderie between different porters, group leaders and tourists (some of whom mistook me for my twin or I got to pass on messages to her).

The guide who was with me had radioed ahead to the others that I would be descending. Soon after, we lost contact. We made contact close to an hour later and even though I only understood about one out of every ten or so Swahili words, I knew that the guide hadn’t let the others know that I would continue to ascend. His advice to me was that I head up to Stella Point, rest and have tea with the rest of the team then we all descend. There were a blur of faces and voices pushing me and encouraging me and I know that I have a wickedly vivid imagination but I’m pretty sure that even I couldn’t conjure a little twerp shouting to anyone who could hear “Oh, this is (sic) piece of cake. Walk in (sic) park.” Usually I’m all for a South American accent but not this time (may have been Spanish or Portuguese) but really? Really? You see tens of people struggling and THAT’s what you choose to say? Freud won’t have a field day with me as that wasn’t a hallucination plus a lot of his theories have proven to be rather dated anyway but seriously, what a cretinous thing to be shouting.

There were a few familiar faces along the way that registered with me. I know that I only made it because my guide had my hand and told me to step, keep walking, you will make it, you are a hero plus thoughts of my twin and constantly asking Jesus for help! Meanwhile I’m in sleep walking mode, barely walking 1metre per hour. I didn’t even have the mental capacity to take a photograph of the sunrise. It’s only thanks to Senõr Albert that I have sunrise shots and quite a few action shots. I’m quite hunched over from fatigue in a few shots but boy does the sunrise set against the clouds below look great! I heard singing and something about “dada” which means sister amd it wasn’t until the people came running to me that I realised that they were the rest of the CEOs, my team and my twin. They were very surprised. I still wasn’t with it and a fellow trekker handed me a honey nut bar. Much like the chocolate the CEO had tried to give me from my day pack, I took one bite, don’t recall chewing then plonked it somewhere. It wasn’t until much later that I heard Albert had eaten it on my behalf. The dude deserves more… I physically would not have made it to Stella Point without his aid. In as much as results don’t matter and nothing can take away from the previous days of trekking and crossing so many different terrains and weather conditions, I am so damn glad that when it counted, I thought of one thing… One person to get me up there and yay, I still get a certificate. The others are absolutely brilliant for reaching the peak of Africa (Uhuru Peak 5895 metres) and will receive a gold certificate whereas I’ll receive green one for reaching Stella Point (5756 metres).

I’m an introvert and have been sharing a tent with someone and have been surround by a trekking group of five others plus three CEOs plus the 15 or so porters and chef. We had to quickly make our way back down to camp but as fatigued as I was, I couldn’t and wouldn’t eat lunch and only partook of our afternoon tea of popcorn and tea because someone brought it into my tent. It wasn’t even that I was in a mood. I just had no physical energy and no mental reserve to fit anything or anyone in. Days earlier, I’d shared with my fellow trekkers that I’d spent (read as struggled for) close to 20 mins trying to remove an item from my duffel bag and that I’d unnsuccessfully spent a lot of time trying to put on a third pair of trousers. The mind is willing but the flesh is weak. In complete awe of the CEOs (Joseph, Fortunatis and Albert who we now know is called ‘Man Africa’) and the porters who we’re slowly getting to know. What they do, the physical demands made upon them as they carry our main belongings and tent equipment, the fact that they do it far quicker than us even though they leave after we set of gust amazes me. Utterly amazing. After dinner the lights went off in the mess tent and I’m thinking “But we’re all still in here having our nightly post-dinner debrief” and that’s when I see the birthday cake and candles. Despite what I’d said to Exilema at half twelve that morning, I’d truly forgotten what the date was, we’d trekked for hours ascending, descending, had an hours siesta then had to trek to a lower camp all in the one day so nothing at all about that day felt like the sixth June. Very well played to all the porters, CEOs and Chef who’d planned this before this tour had even begun. A lot of memories and certainly not what one would expect at 4000+ metres above sea level!