Friday, August 28, 2015

Kilimanjaro Day 2 (morning): August 9, 2015

The 6:30am wake-up call was Samweli coming to our tents with hot water and a choice of coffee or tea. Turns out Jen is a coffee drinker – one of those people who needs coffee to get started in the morning. I opted for tea, but after the first morning found that the black tea was too strong for my stomach without any food so I just had a cup of hot water. After we got dressed, he came with a basin of hot water for a morning face and hand wash. It was very hot water – it must have been just boiled. We often had to wait for the morning washing water to cool down before we could even use it. Not that I'm complaining!

Kilimanjaro coffee!

Kilimanjaro tea!

We were called to the mess tent for breakfast, and had the pleasure of seeing a blue monkey in a tree above us!

It's hard to see, but there's a monkey in that tree.

We had a big, delicious, hot breakfast. I love eating big breakfasts, so this was right up my alley. Jen is more of a smaller-meal-eat-more-often kind of eater, so she often couldn’t quite finish the big breakfasts but then snacked on a Clif bar mid-morning. This breakfast consisted of hot “porridge” (thin but delicious oatmeal), fresh fruit and avocado, and bread which I slathered with peanut butter and honey. And then the rest of the hot breakfast came: fried eggs and sausage! I was nearly full already, but still happily ate some.

We packed up our duffel bags in our tents and got ourselves ready – day packs on, gaiters on, water bottles (for Jen) and Camelback (for me) full of water, walking poles in hands – and started off. After we left with Simon and Noel, the porters went into our tents and packed our duffels in the waterproof sacks, folded up our sleeping pads, took down our tents, and were on their way. Of course, they always passed us and managed to have everything set up at the next camp by the time we got there.

Typical scenery on today's path
Porters passing us, going uphill, balancing big bags on their heads. Simon was so patient with us as we slowly plodded along.

We saw several other hiking groups and sometimes leapfrogged with them; we would pass them, then take a break, they would pass us, then take a break. Today the vegetation changed from forest to montane shrubs with lots of pretty wildflowers and Protea. We saw fresh springs and a few birds. Today we also got introduced to narrow trails with rocky parts which we sometimes had to clamber to get over. Kili is not just a simple walk up a tall mountain, it turns out.


green plants

rainforest vegetation

a forest stream

Much of the morning’s conversation during the hike centered on religion, since Simon and Noel had deduced that Jen and I study human evolution. Jen grew up Christian but is now an atheist, and I grew up Jewish (and still am, culturally, but I’m an atheist as well), which very much interested Simon. I told him how much it costs to join a synagogue in the area where I live and he was taken aback. We talked about how some preachers in Africa are corrupt, and then had an interesting conversation about why Africa is “not rich”, in his words. Simon talked about corruption and the propensity of Africans (yes, this is a gross generalization) to “stay idle” and not want to work hard. I talked about education and how I thought this was a big barrier to development. Simon told me that kids are taught in Kiswahili in primary (elementary) school, with English being just one subject, but that secondary (high) school is taught in English. I said that seemed like a strange system to me, and he said that many kids really struggle in high school simply because they are not proficient in English. He has two kids, a 7 year old girl and a 3 year old boy, and he said they are both in school taught in English.

Mid-morning we had our packed snacks. Jen is a big Clif bar fan, so that was her main snack of choice for the trip; I had some packets of mixed nuts, raisins, and M&Ms (two students of my husband’s from his first summer teaching session had given him a big Costco box of these packets which I happily packed to take with me, one for each day), chocolate mint protein bars, and turkey jerky. Those last two are some of my staple snacks at home, too. I only ended up eating the jerky once, but the other snacks were very handy. 

Hiking into the clouds!

Jen's loving it!

Cool plants

Jen took lots of photos

This is a not-so-good picture of a cool flower called an elephant's trunk, which Simon says only lives here.

More pretty wildflowers

Here come Jen and Noel!
I can't seem to post more photos at the moment, so I'm going to stop here and continue tomorrow...