Well we're finally here in Kilimanjaro! The hotel is basic, but has a rustic charm that makes it almost quaint, with palms and thick trees surrounding the building, wooden carvings and brightly coloured rugs adorning all the walls and a stunning view of the famous mountain - they assure us - if you look hard enough through the thick tree canopy, stands on one leg and lean as far over the neighbouring balcony as you dare...
Who cares, I'll be sick of the sight of it in two days, so I'll cope for another couple. We had a stunning view of the mountain as we came in to land, which I would have taken a photo of, if I hadn't buried my camera deep within my bag, having frantically emptied it on the previous plane whilst the air hostess ripped the seat covers off looking for my passport. I knew I'd put it in the zip compartment of my new rucksack when I put the bag in the overhead compartment, so when I went to look for it as we got off the first plane and it wasn't anywhere to be found I was convinced someone must have stolen it. Hence a full scale air steward search before we raised any alarm for theft, me near to tears envisaging the next 24 hours stuck at Nairobi airport as I was refused onward travel to Tanzania and the whole dream holiday rapidly falling around my ears... imagine my relief (and embarassment) when Sam found the 'stolen'passport in the hidden zip compartment at the bottom of the new and therefore unfamiliar rucksack, exactly where I'd unwittingly put it. So, with no more dramas we got into the awaiting landrover, to transfer us to the hotel where the driver chatted away and we both fell dead asleep.
Seeing the girls Kristin and Heidi at the hotel - in the room next door was fantastic and before long we drowned out any other noise, chatting and giggling, comparing stories and catching up. Sam and I were shattered and the girls still jet laggged, but we decided that if we wanted to make the most of the time, we might as well get into the swing of it, stay awake and then get an early night later. In Tanzania, it appears that anyone will show you anything, take you anywhere, or help you at any cost, as long as you throw some cash at it. So we did the Chagga museum and learned a little about the local tribe, (there are 120 in Tanzania, all speaking different languages, with Swahili being the common means of communication since they were decleared independent in teh sixties) in Kilimanjaro town. The only other attraction in Marangu - where we are - unless you get a ride into town, is the nearby waterfalls, which we decided to do tomorrow and settled on a lazy stroll into the nearby market for our first day, to ease ourselves in.
So after much protesting, a few dollars and the promise of guiding us to the waterfall tomorrow we ditched our 'guide' - let's call him John - and strolled into town. 'John' had tried to talk us into letting him take us through the bush, because the roads were 'too dusty' for our flimsy flip flops and bare legs, but what would he know, he just lives here. So we set off in our flimsy flip flops and Heidi and Sam promptly slip down the dusty road, with Heidi barely saving herself before the camera hit the deck first. For some reason, the locals seemed to think that four milky pale, inadequately dressed and clumsy white girls was amusing and so our little procession gathered at every corner.
So, having reached the market and discovered we had no need for a tree's worth of bananas or any form of tomato, we decided to 'off road' for a bit, becasue we'd see a bit more and we wouldn't go that far anyway...
The rest of the day pretty much then consisted of 50/50 guessing which way at any given juncture, creeping warily through several small 'village type settlement's trying to avoid barking dogs, begging children or twisted ankles and we got thoroughly lost. In one 'villgae type settlement' two teeny little grubby children grabbed Heidi and Sam's hands (I didn't have my hand sanitiser on me, so I wasn't going there!) and followed us alarmingly far, asking for pens we hadn't brought out with us, before the youngest burst into tears very loudly and we had to shake them off and make a hasty retreat, in case the parents heard and thought we'd done something bad!
I wouldn't say we were bothered about being lost, because it was a lush day and we happened accross the waterfall, which was lush... until we had to cross the river and Sam and Heidi stupidly chose to follow me, instead of Kristin and I got us all stuck, knee deep in the middle of the river and one of the Tanzanian guys who gathered to gaup at the spectacle, had to wade in, in his underpants and come to our rescue! Not one of my best moments and more of a highlight for Kristin, than Sam, Heidi and I for sure.
So, now I sit typing having made it back to the hotel after not one, or two, or even three, but four seperate rescue attempts by passing locals, all at some nominal financial outlay on our part, three hours of solid walkingfeet sore and blistered and legs aching - not the ideal preparation for climbing a mountain in - ooh, about 36 hours... excellent work, as ever.