So today started with a big big relief. The headaches and nausea from last night have abated. I went for a pee at about 2am this morning, and the benefits of the impending full moon were readily apparent as both Mawenzi and Kibo were lit up incredibly by the moon. When I got back to my tent however, I actually found it quite difficult to breathe. It was pretty scary – I had a moment when I thought that the mountain was not for me. I just started deep breathing however, and eventually all was normal.
Breakfast was the normal feast, porridge, toast, honey, omelette, sausages, mango, papaya, tea, coffee etc. There is too much. Again I feel sorry for the people who carried the stuff all this way.
Everyone else seems to feel good this morning too, other than Kamal who has really bad sunburn on his neck which actually stopped him sleeping, and Heather who was sick during the night, oh and Caroline fell over on the way back from the toilet and cut her knee, and is limping somewhat, so she will use her poles today. The weather is again great though, and here is a view just as we leave camp:
We set off at about 8.30, and we have a short distance to go today, just 5km. It is steep however, and it takes us to over 4300m or 14,100 feet. We will be there by noon, all being well.
The ‘olds’ stick to the back, and the tweens head off at their usual breakneck pace. This time Kamal hangs back with us, and I pronounce him ‘President’. Before long however Kamal goes to join the tweens, and we hand back at our usual slow ‘pole pole pole’ pace, accompanied by Deo and Raymond.
The walk is fantastic we are above the line of the trees and bushes now, and all that grows are lichens and alpine heathers. We reach camp at Mawenzi Tarn at about 12.15. The camp is in the shade of Mawenzi Peak, which is stunning.
Along the way today, Deo teaches us the following phrase: ‘Poa kichizi kama ndizi’, which means literally “as cool as a banana”, but means properly “as good as it gets” or the like, I think.
We also ask Deo today to give us Swahili names. He is teaching us various words, and so it is fitting that we learn some more. We already know “Asante” (thanks) and “Karibu” (welcome) and a few others, but our own names just cap it off. They are as follows:
Kamal – “Kifaru” , which means Rhino
Tamara – “Twiga”, which is Giraffe
Tayma – “Cheetah’, which is cheetah, funnily enough
Ronan – “Mzungu Maasai”, or white (Maasai) warrior
Caroline – “Mchumba”, which is Sweetheart, or lover, apparently
Heather – “Mrembo”, which means beautiful
Me – “Bao Bab” – a type of ‘old tree’, pretty fitting really:)
So we are now on an extinct crater at close to 5,100m. It is totally spectacular. I have a look around me in wonderment, and have a ‘this is what it is all about moment!!’
After lunch of cucumber soup, meat pies with chilli sauce, and fresh pineapple, we all crash for an hour or so. At 3.30 we are awoken for hot peanuts and tea, and then we set off on an acclimatisation walk. We go up about about 700 feet higher than the camp, along a ridge of what was once the crater of the volcano. The views are outstanding.
Back at camp at 6.30 or so we retire to dinner of beef and banana stew, a local Chagga dish – it was outstanding. Before this we had fried chicken wings and battered egg plant followed by leek soup.
Played a few games of ‘Oh hell’ at cards, which Ronan won, although none of us quite know how to this day, including Ronan, as the rules of the game seemed to elude him slightly!! …. And then sleep comes so easily despite being at over 14,000 feet.
I felt much better this evening, despite being so much higher than the previous night. It may be due to the acclimatisation walk. It may be due to the fact that I know that tomorrow we will be sleeping at almost 1,000 metres lower than we are right now. My body looks forward to that extra oxygen.
I love Kilimanjaro. I cannot get enough, and it just ‘has’ me, although as you know, that happened a long long time ago……….