Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Kilimanjaro 2010 Day Six and Seven

[Note: gaps are from pictures that somehow became missing from my Picasa Gallery - will replace when I get a few minutes]

We had rested and eaten, so began our descent into the mist and clouds. At High Camp, along the Mweka Trail, we stopped to rest on the benches there for a short bit. Maybe longer than we planned. It had been raining off and on for some time. High Camp is for those who are running late in coming down from the summit.

At times the trail down into the rain forest seemed like a dry river bed, but when it began to rain pretty good the trail became a wet and sloppy mess. Standing and running water was the norm, and made footing pretty rough going.

We made it to the Mweka Camp, registered in pouring rain, finding shelter in the ranger hut, much nicer than most of the others along the trail. We got to our tents and crashed. We ate then retired in the midst of dripping wetness.

Day Seven Morning - Jan 2 2010.

We rose, had breakfast and hung stuff to dry. We headed down the trail and sometimes ran, sometimes walked down a wide well maintained trail that eventually became a very wet yucky road that we could barely stand up in. At least I know I had a lot of trouble.

We got to see people being carried by porters, or held up between porters, people whining and griping about pain, but also people singing their joy at having gone to the summit.

My favorite though was the monkeys. Got to see the monkey family, including a baby.

At the bottom we registered at the ranger station and got in the van to go. There was a hold-up though and we sat for a bit. Turns out the porter carrying my bag had a crash and broke his knee. They sent someone up for my bag and after a lot of stress on their part, we went down to the hotel in Moshi and the bag would catch up to us later.

At the hotel we hung around for a bit. Zakariah said he was going to go check in the group equipment and manage the porters and would meet up with us later. We checked in and after a bit the assistant guide brought my bag to my room and insisted on staying while I checked it. I did, it was fine, but he didn't seem happy.

We went to hang out then and wait for Zakariah, who would be bringing certificates and collect the tip for the porters. In the meantime, the Zara rep came and asked us if we were abused by the porters or guides in any way. I ignored the whole "overhelpfullness" issue, as well as the "allergy ignorance" issue, figuring there's nothing to be done for either.

Only minutes after the Zara rep left Zakariah returned with his assistant Augustino. We had been warned about the Zara rep, that the porters and guides livelihood depended on good reviews and things.

We had collected a tip, gave it to them, then we had some stuff to give them (miscellaneous old clothing etc.), and they gave us the certificates.

They ran to pay the porters their tips, while we hung out and ate and stuff, arranging to meet them later in the day. One of us had mentioned inviting them to dinner. This became an interesting shake-down attempt, as they stated later that it would be around $40 or more each to take them to dinner (as Simina looked on her Blackberry and showed us it was $10 ea) and they'd much rather use that money to give a great party to the village. So we tossed in $5 each (amounting to $25) and told them to have a great party and buy a few barrels of banana beer for the village.

They weren't happy. Anyway, that was it. The trip was done. I had a couple days to kill and had some fun, but that has nothing to do with Kili so I'll talk about that elsewhere.

Next time I'll give my assessment, especially Tanzania VS. US outfitters/guides, talk some about the shakedown/tip mentality, and offer some last minute tips and ideas.