Back to Civilisation, sort of…

Back to Civilisation – well Moshi Town and Arusha anyway

From the Marangu Gate we joined the remaining porters who were not staying on the mountain and joined the bus:

Still needed to fit 44 of us in here, and it didn’t smell quite as sweet as it did a week ago…

I had been looking forward to hearing the Kilimanjaro song since I first heard about it since several months ago, and Deo had told me on the way down that it would be sung on the bus. And it was – I do not currently have the ability to embed videos here apparently, but as soon as I fix this it will appear here in all its glory – I loved it – you may not, it was a kind of “you had to be there” sort of thing:)

On the way back to Arusha we stopped at Moshi town and had lunch at a great little restaurant  called Edwins I think.

There we were presented our certificates, and here is me getting mine from Deo:

This was a fantastically proud moment for me.

Deo put our ‘Swahili’ names on the certificates too, which was a nice touch.  I will be forever Bao bab – “the old tree” – that makes me rather proud and happy that. It is a beautiful and timeless memory, and as I look at my certificate in years to come (it will be framed and take pride of place somewhere) I will always see that name.

It is strange eating lunch in a restaurant (albeit a rather basic one in Moshi Town) when you have been in a tent for a week.  It is strange also just how quickly you get used to different conditions.  It was furthermore difficult to choose what to eat when you have eaten ferociously whatever was put in front of you for the last seven days. I chose a beefburger in the end, as it was at least ‘normal’ to me, although it did come served with a fried egg on top:)

Oh yes, and they had beer:) Which one to have??? Well Kilimanjaro of course!!!, At least for the first one, and then I tried some Tusker to follow., but just stuck to the two. It was just lunchtime after all, and there would be several more coming my way later that day for sure.  I think we will all also remember the restaurant for what Samuel, one of our assistant guides ate – a cows tongue, yep a whole one.   Looked like it had just been ripped out by the root, and there it sat on a huge board.  Heather installed as she called it a “modesty screen” of menus around him so she didn’t have to look at it. As Kamal was fond of saying ‘TIA’ (this is Africa) – gotta love it.

On the way back we to Arusha we got so many great views of the mountain – it was even more transfixing and compelling now than ever. Here are a couple I took from the window of the bus – it never looks the same on a photograph does it?

Didn't want to leave it behind......

Impossible to truly appreciate the scale until you have driven around the base of it for four hours....

We finally reached our hotel, the Outpost (Heather, Caroline, Ronan and I) at about 5pm, having dropped off Kamal, Tamara and Tayma at their place just beforehand.  The others went straight for that much needed shower, but I went to the garden, ordered me a beer (surprise surprise) and reflected on all that went before me.  I wish I could bottle that moment and have it forever.  Come to think of it, I believe I will have it forever.

Oh and talking about forever, that is how long I could have showered for.  My hair, what there is of it these days, which likes to be washed pretty much every day, or at worst every other day, didn’t seem to like the first half bottle of shampoo that I put on it.  Although I (and I believe all of us), had been pretty diligent with the wet wipes whilst away (oh and anyone reading this, thinking of doing Kili, needs to put wet wipes as way way up their list of essential items), there is no substitute for a good hot shower. I could have stayed under that water for half an hour, actually come to think of it, I think I did.

In the evening we were joined by Freddy for dinner, and also Alicia, one of Caroline’s friends who had just arrived at the hotel and was going off on Safari with her and Heather the following morning.  Kamal, Tamara and Tayma were supposed to join us, but they had to sort their luggage out for their own safari – they had not seen their luggage at all since arriving in Africa, and that made me realise how lucky I was.

After dinner it was very strange to sleep in a proper bed with a bathroom, which meant if you wanted to pee in the middle of the night you didn’t have to don three layers of clothes, hiking boots and a head torch in order to do so. What luxury. It again is strange how you very much get used to different conditions of sleeping in a tent and not having your creature comforts around you, and then as to just how luxuriously appointed the Outpost Lodge was now, when a week ago I was not really wanting to walk on the floor of my room without putting my shoes on.

I slept fantastically well. Tomorrow would be my last in Africa, and I had an invitation to go and see (the assistant guide) Raymond’s house nearby, which I really looked forward to. It would a great experience, and a very fitting way to spend my final day…………..