The big day has arrived! Yesterday we had our gear check. We had two guides conduct this, one who’s name is Aga, and the other guide’s name is hard to pronounce but he said his nickname is “K2” so we are all going with that. They were pretty serious about the inspection, starting at the top of your head you have to show everything you have down to your feet. I passed, thankfully. Aga shook my hand very seriously. This will be the 75th hike to the summit for Aga. K2 has hiked to the top so many times that he has lost count – but he knows it is over 200 times. So this makes me feel like we are in very good hands.
In the afternoon a group of us went into Arusha. It is a typical small town for Africa, very crowded, lots of little shops for tourists. Very very dirty. We went to one shop area and all bought some trinkets. The shopkeepers are very aggressive about trying to get you into their store, and reluctant to let you leave. The haggling is fun, I got to get all serious and dramatic and whittle original $25 prices down to $8 or $12 depending on what I was buying. But there was this one woman who was making beaded bowls, they were quite beautiful. I asked her how much for a particular bow, expecting to hear $25 or $35 and she replied very quietly, “ten dollars” and looked at me with very tired eyes. So I paid her $15, which was all I had left.
I woke up this morning at 4:30 am, wide awake. We leave for the mountain gate at 8:30 am african time. This means we’ll actually leave around 10:00 am. But we are all very relaxed and happy. The group has really gelled beautifully – we stayed at the dinner table last night until around 10 pm talking and sharing stories. So far there doesn’t seem to be anyone that has the possibility of being a jerk. Let’s see how we all do after 5 days of no showers, temperatures hovering at zero and about 50% of the oxygen we’re used to having.
I don’t know if I will be able to update my blog or post anything during the hike. I’ve been told there are a few hot spots on the mountain, and I’ll attempt when ever possible. Photos are unlikely until I return to the lodge on the 25th. But you can view our progress on the website i put in an earlier post, should you be interested.
Much love to everyone!