Day 2: One group heads to Kili, one group off to town!
We awoke on Day 2 in Tanzania and bid farewell and “safari njema” to the first group of Kili Climbers. We helped them pack their bags and load them atop the shuttle bus headed to Kilimanjaro. The excitement, as well as twinges of anxiety, were palatable! The group would set off on a roughly 30 minute drive to the gate. The next time we would see them was on their 4th (our 3rd) day atop Kilimanjaro.
Packing the bags
Here’s a shot of the crew before the first group departed.
Once we said kwa herini to the group (good bye), the twelve of us headed for the Macheme Route, the Regulators, as we deemed ourselves, headed into Moshi town. We stopped at various markets, both food and souvenirs, before arriving at a local pub for lunch, East African Inn. This was the first time I was introduced to ugali, the maize-flour based staple that is very much an acquired taste. At first, one would find it easy to think mashed potatoes were accompanying the kuku (chicken), ndizi (banana) and mchicha (veggie combo of spinach, onions & tomatoes). Within the first bite though, as I was to find out, the taste is nothing like the beloved spud. The first few times I tasted it, I had trouble finding enjoyment, though I must admit now, I rather fancy it!
To eat ugali (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ugali), one takes a bit of it in the right hand and rolls it into a ball before dipping it in the desired sauce/meat. It’s especially good with stewed chicken or stewed vegetables. In addition to being introduced to ugali and some traditional Tanzanian fare, I was formally introduced to the “squatty potty”.
While you might think at first, “Wow, just a hole?!” it seemed most luxurious as I was to spend the next 8 days on a mountain, sans flushing.
Anyway, we Regulators really bonded that day and I was especially grateful for this, as I did not know anyone with whom I was climbing. Part of the magic of climbing with the Kilimanjaro Journeys of Inspiration Group is that training hikes had taken place for nearly a year leading up to the climb. Because most of the climbers were from the Rochester area, there was an incredibly strong bond between the group prior to arriving in Tanzania. Luckily for my delicate self and the others who had not participated in the training hikes, the group’s bond was not one of exclusion, rather it certainly was like a family in every aspect.
Walking around Moshi town was incredibly eye-opening and unlike anything I had ever experienced. From women selling beautifully stacked vegetables to young boys practicing their English with us whilst trying to sell trinkets, again it was sensory overload. Before I knew it, we were headed back to the hotel to get some rest and relax before heading to Macheme Gate. En route, as we had done the same morning going to town, we passed over a railroad track. Rather than trains upon its tracks, I saw women and children, and some men, walking home, walking to work, and walking from school.
Once back at Springlands hotel, I was again reminded that my bag was nowhere to be found. Mark, a fellow climber, too was missing a bag. We both had rallied with the others to ask for clothing/gear for the climb as we were in need. Most everyone had packed too much clothing so were were in luck! All the while though, I was desperately hoping my bag would arrived from NYC. To pass the time, I spent some moments in the internet cafe area, writing back home and assuring family/friends I had arrived safely (albeit without much clothing!)
After dinner, whilst sitting in the courtyard area chatting with some Regulators, I was elated to find out my bag had arrived and would be present in time to make the climb with me. I unpacked items and repacked for the climb, which was in less than 15 hours. My roommate, Alison, was in the first group of climbers so I was all alone that night. Excitement and anticipation ravaged my body but thankfully I managed a few winks!