Monday, 29 December 2008

Impeccable manners

We finally packed up after a delicious bread-and-jam-sandwich breakfast to leave Snake Park, Arusha with a surprise. The lady owner said the children were a delight and the best manners she had seen. As a reward, free Snake Park t-shirts were handed out to the kids.

We hit the road again thankful we were back with our boys Japhet and Joseph and being blown around by the wind again although a real sense of freedom and well being as we were now heading to another milestone in our expedition.

We were now heading to the highest mountain in Africa with its highest peak Uhuru standing at a massive 5891m. We couldn't see the summit as it was enveloped by a ring of clouds.

The plan was the boys were to have a walk on the slopes to get a taste for the real thing from the challenging Machame gate in the south - definitely not for wimps. After messing about for at least 45mins with the red tape, bureaucracy and a very irritating tout we were fleeced of $161. Strange that $1 was for the guide until we found the usual snag of an extra $20 for an incompetent guide by the name of Frederick. The amount of porters carrying vast amounts of colonial extravagant accessories with boys as young as 16 the whole thing was a bit obscene with a bunch of wannabes that we all agreed had no chance of making the summit or even beyond 1 day. The idea of the mad hatters tea party with tablecloths and chairs after walking 100 yards was pretty farcical. They really thought they were special or with a royalty gene. I soon realised that Rob and Dave were clearly going to show some of these lounge lizards a severe lesson as they accelerated past and were described as a couple of cheetahs. Unfortunately I had to take a more sedate pace to avoid spending the rest of the trip in a wheel chair. To add insult to injury Dave was not happy with the record time ascending to the first hut at Machame camp 3000m, so sprinted back down informing all who asked he had already reached the summit and was off home.

Finally we arrived back at the gate at 5pm to find the truck awaiting and a cold beer followed by a bizarre photo with the ranger armed with an AK-47. Off we left down a dusty road lined with banana trees and locals dressed in their Sunday best. We arrived at Marangu hotel to meet the girls who had done a fab job on cooking the dinner without pots and pans.

A fab, although exhausting day to have a quick glance of the king of Africa - Kilimanjaro.

By Greg

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