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Final Farewells

Final Farewells
 
 

IT IS good to have goals and deadlines. It is good to rise and shine bright and early for a brand new day to conquer the world. There are some days though when you need to completely zone away from it all. This was one of those mornings. It was nine o’clock when I woke up. Looking out the window, the hotel was enveloped in thick cloud. Obviously there won’t be any view of the mountain today.

Breakfast
Breakfast

I arrived at the dining hall at nine thirty for breakfast. I really wasn’t hungry, but managed to get some food into me – a small bowl of cereal, some watermelon pieces and some orange juice. Being so late, I didn’t want to be paying for lunch, so decided to eat as much as I could. I was alone in the dining hall. Everyone else in our group apart from Gary and Dawn would have left hours ago to catch their planes back to their respective homes in Canada, the United States, or Australia. I didn’t look for Gary or Dawn as I figured they would have had breakfast earlier.

It seemed a bit sad that I spent such a short amount of time with these wonderful people. In other tours, I had spent two or three weeks in the same group. Five days just wasn’t enough time to spend with a small tour group.

After my cereal, I felt hungry, so I also had scrambled eggs on toast and some sausages.

Flower at the hotel
Flower at the hotel

Following breakfast, I went onto the Internet hoping to be able to post an update on Facebook. Given how unreliable the electricity was here, and noticing the Internet here was slower than dial-up. It wasn’t good, but it was perfectly fine for what I needed.

I had the usual drama with logging onto Facebook. It didn’t like my location (new country yet again) so asked me all these dumb security questions regarding which friend was in five different collections of photos. Thankfully I have good face recognition, so I got them all right. This allowed me back into my account.

Without looking at anyone else’s status updates, I posted an update advising I had successfully reached the summit. It felt surreal writing it. Although it had happened just two days ago it just didn't seem real - it hadn't sunken in properly that I had conquered such a high mountain.

Flower at the hotel
Flower at the hotel

I was still typing when I saw Gary and Dawn out the window. I wasn’t sure whether they were looking for me, or if they were just exploring. They did seem to be looking for something or someone though. I’ll find them later – none of us were going anywhere today. The fog had by now lifted into an overcast sky.

The power suddenly went off again, but fortunately I had a camera battery charged up enough to use for the day. I returned outside and found a seat in the outdoor dining area.

There I photographed some of the amazing flowers and the small birds. It was a very tranquil garden, having been lovingly tendered for decades here in the rich volcanic soil and heavy rainfall around here.

Bird at the hotel
Bird at the hotel

Then Gary and Dawn arrived, so we sat around chatting. They had been looking for me earlier, so I explained that I had slept in and had been on Facebook posting an update.

They were pretty relaxed this morning. We ordered drinks – mainly coke. Their taste for soft drink seemed to have been returned to normal now they were no longer on Diamox.

Gary mentioned the pace going uphill had been too slow for him. No wonder he had come down so quickly. I was still very stiff particularly having chafed legs and my lips were still hard with no feeling. Fortunately I wasn’t going to be doing much walking for a few days until the next tour starts in Uganda. Gary and Dawn had talked about how much they had spent coming over here – around ten thousand dollars for the two of them. It had been Dawn’s idea just a few weeks ago, and they were only here to do the mountain, which they had done now. Their two sons were staying with grandparents in New Zealand. Once back in Brisbane they were looking at moving down to Melbourne to start anew as arborists.

Chips and burger
Chips and burger

We continued relaxing. Eventually it was lunch time, so we all ordered large hamburgers and chips. It was very much western style food. It was great to not be walking any more.

I had remained outside almost the entire day, with the sun very weakly shining through the thin haze overhead. Gary and Dawn came back out to join me in the late afternoon. We were wondering how Levi and Rachel had coped up the mountain.

Then we suddenly saw them. They had just returned and had freshened up. They were waiting for their porters and guides to do a similar ritual to what we had done yesterday. They were amazed that all three of us had managed to get to the top.

After leaving them at Horombo, they had spent the day doing an acclimatisation trek to the Mawenzi Hut junction an hour or two after we had passed through there. They had stayed another night at Horombo before heading up to Kibo the following day.

Bird at the hotel
Bird at the hotel

They had climbed up the scree slope the night after we had gone up. Rachel had been very sick though vomiting all over the scree. She managed to make it up to the start of the boulders when she decided she had to turn back. Levi had continued and reached Gilman’s Point. By then he was so exhausted that he thought, “What the hell is the point of me going any further”, so he turned back with his guide to catch up with Rachel and her guide near the bottom of the scree - he had been influenced by the Jamaican Rocks perhaps. They had done a tremendous effort though given they were totally inexperienced.

We said goodbye to them as they went a bit further up the hill to where their guides and porters were arranging chairs for their farewells.

I was very tired again and needed to have an early night in readiness for my taxi tomorrow morning. We said our goodbyes and agreed to catch up again in Brisbane when we get back. I returned to the room, took a bath and collapsed into bed.

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Latitude: Longitude: Altitude:

19 August 2011

 

Mount Kilimanjaro

Tanzania

 

3°17'48"S
37°31'28"E
1100m ASL

 

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