The laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaast day…
Mweka Camp to Marangu Hotel
Ali and I spent the night dreaming of home, showers and nachos. She cruelly called ‘shotgun’ on the shower back at the hotel, and needless to say, I wasn’t having any of that. I explained that we should resolve this in a mature fashion, given that we’ve just had a life-changing experience on this mountain. She agreed, and so we prepped for an all-out game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. However, just as the digital carnage was about to begin, in dawned on us that there was a bathtub AND a shower in the washroom back at the hotel. We both agreed that given the fact that we had no dignity, privacy or self-respect left, we would both be able to clean up at the same time. We devised a rock solid plan that would minimize exposure to one another, and then drifted happily to sleep to dream of soap, nail clippers, shampoo, towels, hot water, and no freaking tea!
And so, I present to you the FINAL team photo, and the one where I undoubtedly look the happiest I’ve been in days…
Just look at that fresh-faced gal! All ready to go and run down a mountain, onto a truck, and into a bath. I almost look relaxed!
It took us about three hours of knee-shattering, toe-destroying, hip-ratcheting trudging down from Mweka Camp to the final gate where the truck and porters were waiting. We waded through calf-high mud, endured Reggie’s foliage education lessons (ever tried to understand a Chagga man speaking Latin botanical phrases in English?), and lo and behold – we had our final reward:
We were thrilled to finally see The Beast That Brought us Here, as we now knew it as The Beast That Gets us Gone! We were ready to climb into the truck and go, but there were things to do yet – we had to get our certificates and sign out of the park. It was bittersweet, I can tell you that. Eight days ends here, with the signing of my name one final time. It would have been rather anticlimactic had we not been so bloody exhausted.
And so, finally, we piled into the truck and settled in for our hour-long drive back to the hotel. We were so thrilled at the prospect! We sat in relative silence as we reflected on the journey of the past week, and prepared for our reintroduction into society. We rumbled off, jerking and swaying on the rough, red road, looking left and right at the passing fields and brightly-dressed villagers. We were ready to go back now.
Five minutes after we started the drive home, we rolled to a halt in a small village and were told to exit the truck. What the …?! WHY?! Don’t you know how disgustingly dirty and smelly we are!? I mean, I’m sure you DO, but really, we’d like to go back to Marangu now. What could you POSSIBLY be stopping us for!? How cruel is this!? You bast… oh.
Ummm… ok… I feel like an ass now…
They made us lunch. The Marangu Hotel had arranged for lunch to be delivered to us on a humble, peaceful porch in a small, beautiful village. The lunch was really, REALLY good and we were so grateful and honoured. But my god we were ready to go home. The following photo fully sums up how Ali and I felt about this lunch:
We felt like such ungrateful jerks, but after eight days of camping and hiking, we just really wanted to get a move on. I do believe the sentence “eat quickly” was uttered more than once.
After lunch we threw ourselves back in the truck and rumbled off to cleanliness.
We arrived at the hotel, unfurled ourselves from the back seat, and limped quietly to our rooms. After struggling with the skeleton key, we finally opened the door, dropped our red-mudded boots, peeled off our sweaty packs, and wandered toward the bathroom. I rejoiced:
I spent an hour in the bath, scrubbing at my skin with two different bars of soap. I only got out of the bath because we had to meet up with our team of 17 one last time, but I promised myself that I would hop back into the tub as soon as we wrapped that up.
We found our team waiting for us at a long table, under a flowered archway. We gave them beer.
We gave them another beer.
They gave us certificates, sang us a couple of songs, we took some photos, and then… they were gone. 8 days with these 17 men, and after 1 hour, 2 beers and 3 photos… it ended.
263 blog posts
$12, 080 raised for Delta Hospice
2 life-long friends
19, 340 ft
And so, with clean hands, a clear heart, and honest pride, I said goodbye to Mt. Kilimanjaro and to Tanzania, Africa. To answer your question: no. I don’t think I’ll ever climb Mt. Kilimanjaro again. I’ll be back, I know, but I think Kili and I have had our time together. I can say goodbye to her…
…who I can’t say goodbye to is YOU.
What now? Where do I go from here? Without having to write to you each day, I’m feeling a little lost. That’s a big reason why it took me so long to write these final posts – because what happens when I’m done? For almost an entire year this blog and you readers have been the one consistent thing I had. And so saying goodbye is hard for me today… I can’t even see the screen through my tears, and that’s the honest truth.
I don’t know how to end this.
I need more time.
Maybe just one more day, ok?
Next time: Goodbye?