When I left you last, it was the middle of the 2nd night on Kilimanjaro at Shira 1 camp. I was up and coughing in the middle of the night, but after taking a bit of medicine, oxygen and sleep, I feel pretty good when I hear the wake up call at 6:30 am. Do not get me wrong, I am anything but great. During the morning medical check, I fib a bit and give myself a 7 out of 10. I actually feel more like a 5 and would gladly stay here all day in the cozy tent and sleep. But we start out our Day 3 hike with a positive attitude, and a new set of clothes! The route today will be from Shira Plateau to Moir (or Moyr) camp – an elevation gain from 11,500 to 13,600 ft on a gradual incline over 6.3 miles. The guides estimate is that it will take us 8-9 hours. There are a few odd things you note while you are hiking along. Firstly, on the beginning of this route we pass only a few other groups. We have not mingled at all as each of the past two days it was raining on arrival to the camp. And on the trail, well, you pass the groups so there isn’t really time to talk but also, the guides are chatting away in Swahili. Did I say chatting? It’s like a homecoming; The guides, for the most part, are all locals from Moshi and they all know one another having worked on the mountain for at least 5-15 years. So when they pass, they talk up a storm. Urio, our head guide, started out as a ranger in the national park, and he is Mr. Popular. Everyone knows Urio, and Urio loves to make everyone laugh. He is our social butterfly and he talks all of the time. We cannot understand a word – but we start to pick up certain words like “baba” – old man or grandpa (it’s what Urio and Gaudence call each other). Today our entertainment is prompted by a question from Kerry – Does the Swahili language have 26 letters just like English? Urio and Gaudence debate this issue for 20 minutes in Swahili. As we hike, we are outright laughing at what is obviously a disagreement in counting letters. Then we start to hear them sing the Alphabet song – the swahili version is only slightly different than ours! They do use all 26 letters in the alphabet. Question answered. Hilarious.
After about 3.5 hours of hiking, it is time for another assorted box lunch! A small baked yellow potato (cold), a thick crepe filled with peanut butter and honey, a small banana, 1/2 orange, 2 cookies, a juice box, a hard boiled egg. My breakfast was large and I just am not hungry for much of this lunch. We eat and then keep on hiking. It is not long until we reach Camp #3, Moir Camp. All in all we end up taking just over 6 hours including our lunch break. This makes us hopeful that summit day will be bearable. This was one of those days that Kerry felt great, and I did not. But she was aware of the situation and made me hike first so she would know what pace to keep. The slowness is driving her crazy, but she is trying to get used to pole pole.
Camp has become a good routine: Arrive, change and wash up – if there is time, take a nap. Then to the mess tent for snacks and hot tea, and chat, read or scribble in your journal until dinner. At this point in time, one other routine is to have Justin (our waiter) come into the tent at snack time and put a kerosene lamp on the table, chaining it to the top of the tent to keep it from falling over (should there be an accident). He is barely tall enough to get the chain of the kerosene through the loop at the top of the mess tent.
Dinner starts with a warm cucumber soup, and then a huge serving of rice and peas with vegetable sauce, and jerk chicken. Our favorite dessert follows: fresh mango and pineapple. Tonight it’s cold. We hop straight from dinner to bed to try to warm up. This is not a good scenario for anyone with acid reflux. TIP: bring tums, try to stay up after dinner, take a walk after dinner. Another Tip: Diamox really does make you need to urinate. No matter how little water I try to drink after dinner, I’m up at 3 am every night needing to relieve myself. I sit up, I brace myself for the cold, I put on the jacket in my sleeping bag. I fumble for my headlamp, unzip my bag, unzip the tent, slip into my cold boots or camp shoes, and re zip the tent (I am in a squat at this point) turn and unzip the rain cover – brace for the freeze and run to the toilet tent, unzip, re-zip, sit on a bucket with a seat, finish up, and repeat (backwards) that whole process until you are back in bed.