Final packing: picked up passport photos; met Derek and Patrick at Logan; went to Houlihan's, had a beer and sandwich while waiting for the flight to Heathrow in London -the flight was 40 minutes late.
Arrived at Heathrow Airport at 7:50 a.m. Met a young man on the flight from Saco, Maine, who is going to Prague, Czechoslovakia, on a study program from Colby College for 6 months; had a hot latte at Heathrow waiting for a 10:10 connection to Nairobi. No sleep on the flight from Boston; it was smooth and uneventful except for the congeniality of the hostesses. Boarded the plane for Nairobi for the 7½-hour flight. Getting tired of doing nothing except watching movies, reading and catnapping. Excellent meals on British Airways. Lasagna and a light meal yesterday, salad and a baked chicken dish. The plane is a large 747 capable of carrying 400 passengers. We crossed the Mediterranean by passing Cairo and approaching the African continent. London is 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time and Kenya is 3 hours ahead of London time. We landed in Kenya at 8:17 in the afternoon Kenya time on the 19th of January at which time it will be 12 noon on the 19th at home. The plane flies at approximately 37,000 feet at the speed of 597 mph. The outside temperature as of this writing is minus 57ÂºF. We will be met at the airport by people from the Royal Oak Hotel who will hold out signs with our names to establish contact. We arrived intact. We arrived p.m. Paul (our contact) met us at the airport and took us to the Royal Oak Hotel which was fully booked and had no room for us. Paul called and made arrangements for Art, Derek, Patrick and I to get rooms at the Comfort Inn. We purchased beers in the lounge at Comfort Inn which had closed. Had a problem paying the $3 for the beers, ended up giving them $10 and taking 2 beers to our room. The room was stuffy with no air conditioner and Art broke the water faucet off turning it on in the sink. I spied a roach in the bathroom so I elevated our bags above the floor level. Art's bed had a brown stain on the sheet which prompted him to ask if I had been there before. The shower has no stall so the water simply runs all over the bathroom floor. We've been advised not to eat any uncooked food but warning us wasn't necessary. It was a very long plane trip to get here.
Had breakfast at the Comfort Inn which cost 600 Kenyan shillings. I had: passion fruit juice, home fries, pepper & onion omelet, 1 fried egg, 2 cups of excellent coffee, and 2 pieces of fried dough. They tell us that 65 Kenyan shillings equals $1. Waited for the bus to take us to Moshi a 7Â½-hour trip. While waiting outside the hotel I met my "pimp" Picasso. He said he would fix me up when I got back and wanted to sell me a "happy charm" if I paid him $1 plus some change for it. The bus trip was long and informative. Kenya is hot, very dry, dusty and dirty. We passed communities of unimaginable poverty. Old towns without electricity. The animals - goats, cattle, sheep and donkeys, meander around back and forth across the road with the bus frequently stopping to prevent them from being killed. Saw a band of ostriches crossing the road and huge termite houses. We had to switch buses twice. A very long trip. Stopped at a couple of villages, the residents would come out trying to sell bracelets, amulets, and other junk, very aggressive especially when we stopped to obtain visas at the Tanzania border. Arrived in Moshi at 4 p.m. Thursday and are staying at an excellent motel. It is clean and has a restaurant and is set away from town. Received a briefing from the Mauly Tour owner and our guide Adam at 6 p.m. while having a few beers. Adam climbs the mountain 26 times a year and is a short, rugged black man. Mauly Tour owner is an attractive Arab lady. I forgot to say every morning at 5 a.m. we are awakened by the Moslems chanting their daily prayers. The meal at the hotel was excellent, banana beet soup followed by chicken vegetable stir fry and rolls. Back to the room to rearrange (again) our packs and cull out what we won't take. The porters will only carry 15 kilos (30 lbs.). We'll leave all in a plastic bag at Mauly Tours compound until we return.
Met at the motel at 8 a.m. after a continental breakfast. Back to Mauly's place and paid up and stowed some of our clothing because we were limited to the 15 kilos mentioned above. Took a bus ride to Machame Gate and signed in and our group of 10 started out trekking the 10 miles through the Machame huts. The trail was very steep in places. We trekked through the rain forest until we reached the Machame campsite at an altitude of approximately 8,000 feet. Had tea at 5 p.m. after we arrived at the Machame tenting area, took pictures of the mountain and had supper at 7:30 consisting of potato vegetable soup and fried mangos for dessert. Went to bed after supper, there were loads of stars in the sky, the evening was chilly maybe 50Âº--so much for the equator.
Breakfast at 7:30. Mangos and pineapple omelet and home fries and a hot dog. The bread was toasted with peanut butter. Also had coffee. Had to go to the bathroom and waited 15 minutes because someone was in the latrine so I went in the woods. Left at 8:15 for the Shira campsite. It was a very hard climb for the first 2Â½ hours; then along a cliff face to the Shira Camp and arrived at 2:30 p.m. Adam, our guide, goes very slowly to allow us to acclimatize. He congratulated us on 2 successful days. There are many tents here at the campsite and there are English, German, French, Canadians and Turks. We were warned not to urinate beside the tents after dark. Supper consisted of vegetable soup, rice, meat and vegetarian sauce, salad, fresh mangos, coffee, cocoa or tea
Went from Shira campground to the Barranco campground. 10 K (6.3 miles) in 8 hours. The first 4 miles were uphill gradually and down steep slopes. We've been lucky so far, no altitude sickness. Went to 13,400 feet today. Dinner consisted of cucumber soup, macaroni with vegetarian sauce.
A very, very long hard day. Climbed the Barranco wall which is 2,000 vertical feet, knees knocking all the way. The next pitch was a brutal climb over rocks, up a steep grade and finally a steep climb to the campsite on the edge of a cliff. We are now at 14,000 feet and it is very cold. I will sleep in my full gear as we are to begin our final assent at midnight. It will be a bad one but once there the worst will be over. We will start our descent tomorrow around 8 a.m. I was the envy of all because I was able to get the score of the Patriots game on my short-wave radio. Needless to say, I am dead fucking tired. Supper consisted of vegetarian sauce, vegetables and dessert.
We left Barafu Camp for the summit at midnight. Adam, our guide, leading, followed by me, Art and the others. I believe we were lined up that way because we were the oldest and he wanted us to be near him. As we were ascending the first section there was a rumble to our right and a landslide was cascading down the mountain. Apparently it was caused by an earthquake. The first section involved ascending a series of large boulders and small cliffs. It was cold, 10-15Âº. The next phase was the hardest part of the whole climb. It was a major, major ball buster. It is the section of the climb which finishes most people. It consists of a steep zig-zag climb ascending about 2,000 feet over a material which makes our feet slide back with each step for a period of 4-5 hours at 17-19,000 feet. As we were climbing, Adam heard my breathing (I had been gasping since 12,000 feet) and Adam stopped and said, "What do you want to do?" I told him between gasps that I didn't come to Kilimanjaro to quit, so we went on. When we finally got to a point where there was a band of people standing around, Adam said "This is Stella Point," and he gave me a hug and said, "Good job." Art came over and gave me a little poke in the chest as to say "Good job." By this time, we had lost 3 of our party and aof our party and almost elected to stay at Stella Point which is not the highest point if Africa. Adam, I, Art and the others started for the highest point, which is called Uhuru Peak, about 45 minutes away. About half-way there I said to Adam, "What if I just sit here and you pick me up on the way back?" He said, "No, you sit and you go down, you go up and I go with you." I continued on with Art and Adam until finally I saw a sign up on a huge rock with people taking pictures, etc. That was it. Everybody took a bunch of pictures and we started down, but before we started down Adam instructed us on how to descend and he wanted us to sit back on our heels and sort of ski down. I tried that for a little bit but soon saw that there were both visible and hidden rocks and I was afraid of twisting my weak ankle even though I had my support on it. So I went down and fell further and further behind by now my aging legs were jelly and I stumbled and stopped and one of Adam's assistant guides came along and helped me all the way to the campground. Especially difficult was climbing boulders and stepping down from boulders. We arrived at the campground around 10 a.m. and rested until 1 p.m. when we began our trek down the mountain to the Mweka campsite which was a 5 hour hike away. Everyone was dog tired and the route was brutal being filled with piles of stones, water bars dug into the trail and many steps. Again I needed assistance, this time from Adam. At some point I said to him, "I am sorry you have to nursemaid me." He said, "You are a very tough man. You did what you came here to do." I guess I'm well liked because when the porters went by us each time with luggage, food supplies, water and equipment they would shout, "babul" which means grandfather in Swahili. It is the name one of the guys gave me when I first arrived
I am writing this section from our motel in Moshi where we were bound from Mweka Camp from which we came at 11 a.m., stayed in the motel where the others are staying for the night. We were bussed to Nairobi in the morning and spent the night in Nairobi. It is a 7 hour trip. Then leave Nairobi in a flight to return to London via Heathrow Airport and from London to Boston. When we returned to Moshi from Mweka Campground, we turned in our rental stuff and picked up our valuables and then went back to the Key Motel for a beer, showers and sleep. We cleaned up and met around 4 p.m. on the lawn where there are chairs and tables. We were given our certificates (green if you made it to Stella Point and gold if you made it to the top), Four of our group did not make it to the top. Those who made it were Art, Kevin, Alex, Jeff, myself and Dr. John. While sitting on the lawn, I learned that the guy from the next table was from Newington. I went over and talked to him, his name is Bill Murray and he is a nurse who lives on Great Bay Road in Newington. He used to work at Frisbie Memorial Hospital and is a good friend of Janice Parker, a nurse a Frisbie, who lives in Farmington. Dinner followed and after it, I made a little speech. I thanked Art and Sue for coming up with the idea, Jeff and Gregg for implementing the details, and the whole group for being the most intelligent, articulate, humor-loving and compassionate group I had been associated with. Following my speech, they all shouted in unison, "Babul!"
Breakfast at the motel. The shuttle picked us up and swung by Mauly to pick up my trekking poles which I had left at Mauly's security compound yesterday and on to Nairobi with Art, Patrick and Derek. Stayed in the Oakwood Hotel. We arrived at Oakwood at approximately 8 p.m., cleaned up and went across the street to the Stanley Hotel, a first class place with a band, bar, restaurant, and so forth. I had a couple of beers and a large plate of spaghetti with beef bourguignon sauce, then went back to the Oakwood and went to bed.
Up at 6 a.m., showered and down to breakfast of scrambled eggs, beans and home fries, coffee and toast. We were picked up at 7:30 by the shuttle to the airport. Went through customs and the plane took off at approximately 10:30. We were advised that the flight into the wind would take 8 hours and 50 minutes. We will however gain 4 hours as we pass through the time zones. We were served an excellent meal of scrambled eggs, fruit cup, hot dog, rolls, lemon cake and a Twix bar. Arrived at Heathrow, boarded a plane for flight to Logan and arrived at Logan at 9:30 p.m. on the 28th. Susan and Jennifer Hoover met us at the airport and gave us a ride home. Arrived home approximately midnight that evening.