Pole-pole Express to Kilimanjaro

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As more and more Coca-cola signboards bearing restaurant names came into our sights, the ride back to Arusha seemed almost complete.  Kili-time, Good Times Pub, and my favorite, Carnivore Club.  Signboards pass by one by one as the clouds drift overhead.
It was raining ten minutes ago and now the sun is showing it’s face.  Even the cloud in Africa is different.  Puffy and low to the horizon.  It seems as if there is so much condensation that it will rain at any moment of the cloud’s liking.
Wind pushed the clouds further north and we came into the city.  The same old Arusha, where I became to like much more than before.  The same tin roofs and brick houses.  The same coca cola clock tower.  Dust, pedestrians, cars, and bikes going at all directions.
Eight days ago I finally booked my trek to Kilimanjaro.  Not without issues of course.  Money, time, and going with a group are criteria that I’m concerned with.  After talking to different agencies, I figured that the price comes out the same after the tips.
I decided to go with Paola, Lori, and Scott.  One Italian and two Canadians.  You can’t really go wrong on a trek with Canadians and that wisdom proved to be true once again.
A dude from another company that I talked to previously saw me with my current company and he decided to follow me in his car.  His eyes were bloodshot red, and I spotted him tailing me from miles away.  I had to take out dollars for payments at a Barclay’s bank behind the Nakumart with this asshole spying on me.  I don’t mind these things at all, but they always tend to happen at inconvenient times.  Tanzanians do strange things.  After I completed the payment, I approached him and asked him why was he following me.  It seemed he was no longer high and he explained nicely he’s just trying to figure out if I’m going to book with them.  I really didn’t like the vibe his company given me because they tried to get me to book and go a mere ten hours before departure.  What this dude did just pours oil on top of the fire and I wouldn’t have gone with them for free.  I’m just glad the misunderstanding was settled after we talked and I can finally go out to get some provisions.
I bought water, candy, two bottles of Brandy and gum.  Essentials.  Then I went on to look for a collection item.
I have became very interested in collecting soccer jerseys since Colombia.  I have seen this one jersey in Tanzania.  The Simba Sports Club.  Red jersey with a big sponsor patch in the front, by no others than Kilimanjaro Lager Company.  The team is based in Dar I believe, but I sort of hate the idea of walking around in Dar looking for that jersey.  So I went out to find that jersey in Arusha.
It was ridiculous how I would get haggled to the endless depth of hell on the street, but once I stepped into the chaotic and foul smelling central market, no one bothered me.  Everyone just goes on their own business, selling fruit,live chicken, shoes, clothes and more.  A lot of them only speak Swahili.  Some of them tell me angrily my jeans are touching the carrots they are selling.  Some of them ask the white girl with short shorts to put on something decent.
Over the tin roofs of the market you can see Mount Meru on a clear day and that made it a pretty picturesque contrast.  The crispy clean nature and the chicken feather filled narrow walkways, speaks volume about Tanzania.  However, I had a great afternoon just checking out Arusha, especially I didn’t have to spend any time at all telling lies to the “are you looking for a safari”s.
The rest of the afternoon I packed.  Go Pros, phone, thermos, gloves, jackets, beanie and rolls of socks.  I didn’t bring much stuff and believed I can get to 5895m without any goretex.  Keep walking is the key to keep myself warm.  I didn’t have a sleeping bag, so the guide lent me one and also two Nalgene bottles because water bottles weren’t allowed.
The fact that I forgot to bring a hard copy of a book dawned on me again and I went to the market looking for some reads.  There were alot of self help books and great African autobiographies.  Jotto Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere, and of course Nelson Mandela.  I didn’t find the books I was looking for, but it was good some place is actually selling books.  Well, two places, the super market and Nakumart.  These are the markets gearing for safari supply stops.
The next morning came and we set out to the Machame gate.  The route we are taking is a 7 days trek that involves a journey from Machame gate to Machame camp, to Shira Cave, to Lava Tower, to Barranco wall, to Karanga Valley, to Barafu Camp and an alpine start to the Uhuru summit, and come down to the Mweka gate through a forest.
I chose this route because its cheapest to see the most the mountain has to offer.  Marangu is short, but it doesn’t traverse.  Lemosho takes you through the Shira Cathedral but it has a higher price.  The other routes aren’t popular enough to garner a group so soon.  I can do Machame for 6 days, but for not much money I get to spend an extra day in the mountain and not having to run up and down a total of 5000m of elevation change within a 24 hour period.
Climbing in Mexico has acclimatized me, but I’m still a gordito at heart, and walking a hundred thousand kilometers in a day is not something I prefer to suffer.
For the money I paid for the trek I can take the homies out in Vegas for bottle service again.  Jason is going to pass out on the bath room floor while we trip over him going to pee while still drunk in the morning.  For 7 days in one of the most well known mountains in the world, 900 of those dollars are going to the Tanzania government.  They say some of it went to schools, some of it went to park maintenance, and of course some of it went to corrupted officials.
While I can’t say for school, the Kilimanjaro national park is well maintained.  Park rangers kept the mountain clean, maintain rain water and river cleanliness.  I was quite impressed.  Lower camps also have helicopter pads for emergency rescue.  The path to the first camp is well put together.  I saw rangers up and down the mountain doing path maintenance even for the higher up camps.  I guess Tanzania takes care of its number one cash cow very well.
Another thing that impressed me is the porters.  Skinny Tanzanians who carry heaviest shit on their heads speed walking up the mountain so the trekkers can have their tent and food ready when they get there.  Some of them, like the Sherpas in the Himalayas, are shittily paid, yet they continue to do their jobs well.  The first day while the walking was easy, I convinced some porters to let me carry their load for “exercise”.  They refused at first but let me do it anyways because I emphasized it was for fun.  I carried the bags on my shoulder because I don’t know how they do it on their heads.  It was hard work and I can’t believe they are going to do it for 7 days.  I didn’t have anything in my bag, I think about less than 10kg total with sleeping bag, so whoever was carrying mine won’t be so tired.
There are three porters per climber, two guides, a cook, and a server who wakes you up and bring you food.  A lot of people per trek, and alot of tips later.  Everyone is really cool and hardworking.  Main guide is Nagabona, an older guide compared to many people I seen, and everyone seems to known him. He’s easy going and got jokes. He’s also been up the mountain over 300 times; I’m both jealous and feel bad. It’s wonderful to climb so much, but boring its the same mountain.  Assistant guide is Walter, he was actually wearing the Simba SC shirt.  He likes reggae and old hip-hop, and there were alot talks of music in the group.  GMG is server.  He looked like Jamaal Crawford if Jamaal is skinnier and he said he rap and produces when I say he got a rapper name.  People call him G, and he said his IT school teacher called him GMG for Genius More than as Genius.  It made me laugh.  He is a really easy going guy, and did too good of a job serving and helping us it made me feel bad.  Our cook is Majid, he’s a really good cook, and he walks up and down the mountain in air force ones.  I can say I actually got fat on the mountain just eating food all the time.  I have a buffet complex, if I paid for it, I might as well eat it all if others are full.
Some porters are cool too.  Felousie (if that’s his name is spelled), drank most of the Brandy I gave to the crew the last day, and he loves the ganja and telling stories.  Marabu is G’s best friend and bullshit around with everyone else.  Justin, the summit porter, is very helpful and a strong climber.  Michael, Nige, and other people who’s name I didn’t remember are all hard workers.
Sometimes I would get to the camp to early because I got tired of waiting for my group taking their time to pee or drunk water or whatever and try to help the porters set up camp.  They refused vehemently and give me a chair to sit and chill.  They take their job seriously I guess and they do a good one.  Something less than optimal is the zipper on the tents.  Almost all tents have zipper problems, but that’s more the company’s fault.  I chose the worst looking tent, but it actually had the least amount of problems.
It was good to sleep in my own tent.  I had space and slept like a baby who doesn’t wake up every hour and cry every night.  With the help of some Brandy of course.
Lori is a nurse in Edmonton, Scott is an engineer in waste and water project management also in Edmonton.  Of course we talked about Canada’s failing dollars due to oil price in Calgary and the Chili festival in Churchill square.  I also learned many things I didn’t get to do because I was food poisoned back in Edmonton.  Palla is a hotel manager in Spain and if I can’t find a job come September, I can continue my journey as a bell boy in Ana Lucia.  Life can be worse.
The Canadians never done any altitude climbs, but they can withstand the cold.  Palla went to Everest base camp, but that’s just another code word for wasted money to me.  Going to the Himalayas without summiting is not something I would do personally.  Nevertheless everyone is very determined, and despite the slow pace walking every Kilimanjaro guide suggests, I thought everyone should summit.
Everyone was extremely nice, they refused water brought to us every morning because porters had to carry them from the river far away when the hut doesn’t have water tank in the higher camps.  Compare to some others who paid more money to get their own bathroom, or whatever else carried up for them.  I feel pretty good about my team, no one has a spoiled attitude, they are just here for the mountain.  Lori and Scott, for their first time up high, came extremely prepared.  All the gears they need to keep warm.  4 liters of water bags each.  Alot of food. Rolls of water filtration pills and hand sanitizer.  I forgot my hand sanitizer, and I thought I could just boil water and refill, so I didn’t bring any filtration pills.  I hate those anyways.  It was great that they gave me some of theirs everyday that I didn’t end up having stomach issues everyday.
Palla was extremely paranoid about the possibility of heavy rain on the mountain since the first day.  It did rain because rain season came early.  Her friends told stupid stories about how fearful the storm is on the mountain.  I would welcome a shower, since I wouldn’t get to have one for 7 days.  That’s kuna chafu, dirty in swahili.  You can’t prepare for mountain weather, but you can just embrace it and I believe she lost that paranoia after the trek was over.
I owe everyone for helping me because with them lending me stuff, my minimalist style became much easier.  I lost a glove, Scott has an extra.  My battery in my tent flashlight died because of the cold (Tanzania batteries), Scott lend me an extra.  My Achilles heel is my ever so cold hands, the lost of circulation, some times I can’t even feel my wrist moving.  Those gloves really saved me.
The prevailing strategy to climb Kilimanjaro is pole-pole, slow slow in Swahili.  It helps preserve endurance, it helps with acclimatization.  I paid alot of money and wanted to explore, so fuck pole-pole, I went nyepesi nyepesi.  Nyepesi, I believe means a chicken on the run, so its a figurative way of describing speed and fast.  I could be wrong, I forgot where I read that from.  I reached the first camp an hour early.  Went around camp talking to people where I talked to Nadia, Ras and an Indian guy whose name I actually forgot.  I remember he gave me popcorn and later some crackers while we talked a bit.  There was also alot of tents.  I can’t believe how many people attempts the mountain each day.  One of the largest outfitters, Zara explorers, have 18 sleeping tents.  Eighteen, by themselves.
Second day I got to Shira Cave early, and wanted to attempt to go to the Shira needle.  Which I was told it was a day worth of walk away.  I did made it to Shira camp 2 where Lemosho route crosses, and got some good pictures.
The route in the second day were much more wild and interesting than the first day.  It was rocky, it was steep.  It wasn’t just a long walk to a camp on nicely maintained roads.  Nadia is a geologist from Bulgaria, and she goes off collecting volcanic rocks.  There were waterfalls and giant boulders that open up space to the sky and clouds.  The forest from the first day was gone.  No more chameleons, no more strangler figs, no more trees with wet grass growing on its trunks.  Instead, its rocks and moorland and tiny rivers.  As we go from 3000m to 3800m, more rocks appear and vegetation disappear.
There is never any cloud in the morning when sun comes up.  The peak can be easily seen and where we going looms large.  Then the afternoon comes and clouds shroud the mountain and shelters us from the sun.  Of course the uv ray doesn’t care about the cloud and Scott gets sunburned despite putting on sunscreen.  My lips are burnt too, but my face was spared because I have learned my lessons.
Reaching the Shira Cave after much walking the sky fortunately decided to let us view the horizon.  The Shira peak, or needle looms far away.  Even farther away you can see the shadow figure of Mount Meru.
Good weather before night fall is the calm before the storm on the mountain.  This time it wasn’t any different.  Wind with crazy ferocity assaulted our tents.  I woke up at 1AM to check on my tents for fear of having it rip.  My tents stood, but Lori and Scott’s beams collapsed.  In the distance porters and guides came out of their tents to help out Lori and Scott’s tent.  I went back to sleep with some help from lady Brandy, because the wind chill was too much for me in my T-shirt and boxer.  Right before I fell into a slumber and starting to dream about shopping cart racing down the street, I heard Nadia asking for Palla outside of her tent.
It turned out she had a panic attack, probably from drinking “cognac”.  I later learned wasn’t “cognac”, but it was Konyagi, a cheap Tanzania liquor that tastes like gin.  She even asked her guide to take her down the mountain, but in the morning everything was fine and well, well, except Lori and Scott’s broken tent.  Fortunate, the staff did manage to do a temporary fix on the beams.
Next day we were supposed to go to Lava tower for an acclimatization hike at 4700m.  I had other plans, I was going to walk fast to Lava tower, past Lava tower and up to Arrow Glacier.  An older route up to the summit where I believe is banned now because some die of falling rocks before crater camp.  Well, at the time I only knew it’s above 4900m and a better acclimatization route for me.  I can get there and be back to the Lava tower by lunch to eat with my team.
The road up from Shira camp became a desert land with occasional boulders along the way.  It’s astounding how quickly the landscape changes. I walked past everyone, and only a kid from Austria, Lorenzo kept up the same pace.  He thinks walking slow cost him more energy even thou its his first time to high altitude.  He was going to enlist in military soon so he decided to do the mountain.  He wanted to go with me to Arrow, but he had to wait for his guide’s approval.
Well, I didn’t, and I went on.  Lava tower is a gigantic volcanic rock still standing while it’s edges had fallen and became the gigantic boulders surround the tower.  It gave a Mars like vibe, and strangely, resembles a reddish Joshua tree.
To go to arrow glacier, I crossed a river in a thick fog and started a steep climb up a red sand bank.  Five minutes into the climb, I heard people yelling at me from the other bank.  Rangers.  Who’s your guide?  Where you going? What’s your itinerary?  I explained to them my situation and learned I wasn’t allowed.
I went back to Lava tower and went to climb the giant rock that is Lava tower.  Some guide from other team told me I had to wait for my guide.  Knowing my team is an hour away, I got quite pissed and told him its not his problem.  His client, some douche with an American flag bandana in his neck told me its more fun to climb with my guide.  It made no sense and I told him for someone wearing American flag, he sure knows how to interfere with my freedom.
I climbed the tower.  You needed hand, but it was pretty easy.  The best part is there are many options to climb up.  You do one side then you can do another side.  I climbed up and down for warmth in the cold foggy mars land.
I also sat on the top for a while looking down trying to see my team.  The Indian guy gave me a cookie.  Other teams of elder people came up and took pictures.  Everyone saw me and probably wonder how long I have been sitting there.  I thought it was time for my team to arrive so I went down.  Some guides from other company thought I was lost and confused so they offered to take me to the next camp.  I had to kept my anger in the control and explain the situation.  It was the way they told me I’m lost that angered me.  It wasn’t a question, it wasn’t concern, it was an imperative.  “You are lost!”. Good thing they apologized later in the next camp when I came back with my team.
My team finally arrived and we ate lunch and climbed the Lava tower again.  They say they like climbing but with harness.  I don’t think that’s how it works.  Adventure is more fun if you can smell the danger.  Una aventura es mas divertido sí huele peligro.  As they say in that Spanish song.  However everyone had fun.  Everyone rested while I messed around with other rocks, but I’m not really that good and without shoes, I didn’t do much.
Decided to not give my guide anymore trouble, I descended slowly with my team to the sleeping camp.  The camp is at 4000m, just below the Barranco wall.  Climb high, sleep low, for acclimatization and body recovery.  The descend was eerie.  The mars land gave away to more vegetation and rock formations.  Strange upside pineapple plants are along the route while large cliffs are barely visible in the sense fog.  The scenery reminds me of Pan’s Labyrinth, and the forest where the bird came from in Up.  Lori started rapping Gangster’s Paradise, and “as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” became the most fitting description for this descend.
I have never seen geography change so fast and a place containing so much.  From Ecuador’s rocky ascent and desert underside, Peru’s dirt path leading to vast glaciers, I have never gone from forest to rocks to mars and then to the valley of death from a Guillermo movie.  The money I spent started to make its return for me.
At 4000m, I stopped drinking Brandy, and since I hate descends and my knees are always tired after descends, I slept well.
The next morning, the peak made it known under the clear blue sky as we went up the Barranco wall.  Also known as breakfast wall, its a steep up walk that people sometimes throw up their breakfasts.  However, there was such a heavy traffic of climbers and porters, the pace is excruciating slow that breakfast will be digested and pooped out way before anyone gets over the wall.  The wall is 200 meters up and while we were inching up, I heard someone with a Texans accent say “it’s like the 101 in here”. I looked down while allowing more porters to pass us.  I don’t know how they carry bags on their heads and walk up the wall so quickly by the way.  So I looked down and its a guy from the American bandana group.  Somehow none of them are from Texas, one is from Utah, the others from California.  I don’t really like them, so I just let them go around playing country music and make 101 references in their redneck accent.
Kilimanjaro had became a money climb now that people without experience come to climb it. It isn’t technical, but you are going to get altitude sickness if you don’t prepare yourself. Long gone are the days where seasoned people who had already acclimatized through other climbs come to challenge the mountain. Rich people bring their doctors, pay extra to the guides to hand hold them up the mountain. More rules get enforced on mountain so the rangers won’t spend all the resources rescue people. The mountain, once a land of freedom, become someone’s luxury camping safari that ends with an expensive bragging rights. “I was on top of the roof of Africa”. I was sure many people will get sick, with this much traffic, they might even get hurt. At the end I was probably butt hurt about my money and blames the rich folks for setting the price too high.
Pole-pole we got over the wall and proceed to descend back to 4000m to the Karanga camp through the Karanga Valley.
The surrounding became a desert and we walked.  I was on the rangers’ black list and determined to not make trouble for anyone, I walked slow and took video, and did my handstand around the world routine.
We made to the Karanga camp late, while people who are on their 6 days trek already departed after lunch to Barafu Camp.  I was lowkey glad we didn’t have to because then we will have to get to Barafu around 4PM, sleep for 6 hours, make the summit bid, then come down to 3000 meters at Mweka camp all within 24 hours.  That is alot of walking.  Sleeping at Karanga was much better.
I had alot time to kill so I read and talked with porters.  They invited me to smoke some african ganja, but I didn’t, and I don’t think they have any.  Nagabona is pretty strict about that, but the porters do smoke a lot of cigarettes, which is crazy for someone that carries bags up mountains.
I learned that in Tanzania, people root for three soccer teams, man u, Chelsea and Arsenal.  Alot people asked about my Brasil jersey and I can’t believe they don’t recognize the jersey.  After learning I’m an Arsenal fan, they always ask me questions about Arsene Wenger, which happens to be a huge topic of debate in Tanzania.  I also learned Walter is applying visa to Australia and I was reminded how hard its for Africans to go to other countries.  I was talked about music.  People like Kendrick, but 50 cent is still wildly popular in Tanzania.  People recognize his tracks more than others despite 50 is “bankrupt” and signing albums at a liquor store very recently.
I also learned the Jambo song and Kilimanjaro song extremely popular among everyone who works on the mountain.  The easier one, jambo, goes like this:

Jambo (hello)
Jambo bwana (hello mister)
Habari Gani ( what’s up)
Nzuri Sana (very good)
Wageni, wageni mwakaribishwa
(Visitors, visitors, welcome)
Kilimanjaro
Hakuna matata (I don’t need to translate this)

The other song talks about the mountain being the largest, and it brings sickness like snakes to visitors who are the beef to the snake.  The porters sang and danced to these songs and acted out the snake scenes.  I know the song, but I have trouble spelling all the lyrics to the second song so I’m not going to write it out.
The next day we went to Barafu.  This camp is full of rocks and my tent was placed near a cliff.  We ate more than we can and for once Scott ate more than I did.  The camp is at 4600m, that makes the summit bit almost 1300m in elevation, a lot of walking.  Good thing it isn’t technical, and I went for an afternoon stroll to the next camp Kosovo at 4800m.  We had to walk up a rock wall and I thought it was going to be like that the whole.  Fortunately it wasn’t and I was glad.
Kosovo is a camp where you can only camp if you brought bathrooms.  There isn’t porter bathrooms there, so porters sleep at Barafu and later come back to break the camps or bring water from a creek far down below.
An easier start makes a nightmare for porters, so not many people do this.  However, a British group does.  It was the same group that told me Denver Broncos beat the Patriots.  I can’t believe old Peyton still had ammunition in his tank, and can’t wait to check the scores.
At 1AM we started our summit bid.  I hate alpine starts, especially when there is no threat of unstable glacier.  It was cold, but it just snowed couple hours earlier, it wasn’t windy.  The moon and then headlamps illuminated the way up.  I can see the headlamps of other groups who left much earlier.  They weren’t moving much and I wondered why because you don’t want to move slow and freeze.
We were actually went off on a red really good pace.  However, Palla soon went off at a much slower pace with Walter.  The Canadians and I just proceeded like zombies.  Zombie walking was the only way, the same pace, the same step after step, not looking at how much we are going to go.
Occasionally we broke pace to pass groups of slowly ascending climbers.  That left me quite exhausted, but I catch my breath soon after.  We saw a girl lost her will in the cold and headache.  Sitting there trying to catch her breath, Scott gave her their handwarmers to help her while her guides tried to activate the stones.  Later on a group of people slowly push each on the back trying to ascend.  Much later, a porter slurring in his speech, was dragged down the mountain by a guide.
Alot people are struggling, but I didn’t see to much, Scott and Lori noticed more.  We just step by step and went up.  I was cold because the snow made my feet cold and my hands are always cold.  My gopro camera stopped working in the cold.
Then sun risen over the horizon and illuminated then mountain as we are five minutes from Stella point at 5700 something meters.  We took a short break for water and food.  I ate a super frozen candy bar and I shouldn’t.  The break broke my pace and I walked slower after that.  I had a thick jacket on and my backpack didn’t exactly fit with the jacket on.  It was making my back sore from the beginning of the bid.  However, a bit of discomfort and sore magnified at high altitude and I was suffering from backache the last hundred meters.
I could see the people posting for pictures at Uhuru peak, so I packed up all the bitching attitudes and walked there.  On the way I passed by the furtwrangler glacier, the huge ash crater and the ridge to the roof of Africa.  My gopro was out, I failed to make the last part of my video.  My hands were cold, I didn’t want to push the record button anyways.
Canadians and I, we all made it, at 7:30AM, 6 hours later.  I took off all my cloth and braving in the cold, posed with my vintage Kobe jersey at the Uhuru peak sign.  Scott took the picture as always because he took alot of good pictures for me.  This one was a bit off, but in later learned he was getting wrecked by the altitude.  He said he was seeing red in the snow and yellow in the blue sky.  Lori was also sick and threw at the camp later.
They killed in on the trek.  I don’t know how they managed to keep the pace while their heart rate was going super high.  I thought the diamox did magic for them, but it wasn’t so.  I didn’t have much trouble breathing because I was climbing in Mexico not even three weeks back.  That was their first altitude climb, and my first one was just me wanting to pass out every step of the way.  It was pure determination, like the saying, its not about the altitude, its the attitude.
Took out my phone from my warm pocket and snapped couple pictures of the glaciers, the Crater, the Mwenza peak far away, and we descended.  At Stella point, we saw Palla, and she was on her way up to the summit, which was great.  She had no problems, just going slow.  There isn’t any turn around time, so she was in good hands.
The walk down was long and with Lori’s headache, we went slow.  I hate going down, but it’s always necessary.  While walking down, I can’t believe how long we walked as always.  The road is steep and endless.  Red earth covered in snow with icicles hanging from nearby cliffs.  The ice and snow make the road slippery and red sands make the other parts hard to walk.  Using the pizza stance, I walked down all the way to camp.
We ate and slept at Barafu before walking down to Mweka later.  That night I drank all the Brandy, and gave the other bottle to the porters and guides.  We did some rap and beatboxing stuff, but my lips are scabbed from sun burn it was hard for me.
That night I was all the porters and guides squeeze in a circle in their giant cook tent to sleep.  16 staff sleeping in the mess tent and cook tent.  Maybe the company should get more tents for the porters and guides.
The next morning we did the dumbass tipping ceremony.  Porters and guides are underpaid so you have to tip them.  For how much they worked, the tips aren’t even comparable to a sunday at the bar watching football for me.  Scott, Lori and I also gave away our hats and jackets and ponchos and gloves because we don’t want the extra weight and the porters don’t seem to have enough cloth.  I was surprised with how much everyone asked others who did the climb and the preparation they had done, no one except me knew there was a tipping ceremony coming.  I guess I’m the cheapskate who always ask how much its going to cost me instead of what should I bring.
Scott and Lori even gave away their walking sticks as well as their gloves. How happy Justin was when he got Scott’s gloves was worth the prices of the gloves. Justin had a pair of torn up a gloves and I can’t imagine for a summit porter how hard it would be to go up the mountain with cold wind going through his gloves.
We walked 2 hours to the Mweka gate where I got the second most expensive paper since my university degree.  That paper is rolled and folded and stuffed in my thermos.  Hopefully I don’t need to drink hot tea in 30+ degree Celsius Africa again, and that paper just stay there till I go back home.
The ride back to Arusha was slow but eventful.  I saw white back colobus monkeys at the Mweka gate.  Then I saw many baboons off the road.  I even saw camels feeding on a farm.  There are many cows grazing the pasture.  There are coffee plantations, and other cash crops being farmed.  This is the productive Africa, not the city.
Like I said before even the clouds in Africa is different.  What seemed to be nice day soon was covered by low hanging clouds like cotton candy.  Then things turn dark and wind picks up.  The nearby red earth are blown up by the wind and we drove into a red desert Storm.  Then it started raining, water leaked through the door as the dust is put down by the rain.
Just as fast as the rain came, the rain stopped and everything was hot again.  Cloud drifted north and Mount Meru became visible.  Plastic coca cola signs became more abundant and I was finally going to get to take a shower. However, I know I will miss the peace and grind of the mountain more.

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