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Kili day 1

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Wow, it has been quite a day. We have finally embarked on our ma\outain trek and are now reminiscing over the day’s many events with a cup of hot tea, at our table, in our dining tent. The popcorn and cookies are already gone, but dinner is on it’s way.

The morning began with mass chaos, with numerous guests checking out and starting their climbs today. So people and luggage and gear seemed to be everywhere. We did manage to make it out, roughly on time, but our supposed 2.5 hour drive to our trek starting point turned into a 5 hour odyssey. The highlight was when our van got stuck in mud directly behind another van stuck in mud with a large truck stuck in mud behind us.  It was apparently the entertainment for the village, as there were a couple hundred bystanders enjoying the show, as we attempted to get un-stuck again. At one point, we offered to climb out of the van, but were instructed that the weight was needed to get the van out again.  Go figure!  We also found it astounding that none of the bystanders offered to help push any of hte vehicles out; I guess that would have resulted in a pre-mature end to the fun.

We also stopped in the town of Marangu whiles the guide fetched the park permit from the gate; while there, we took a nature walk and encountered a boy with a chameleon on a stick.  When we declined paying him for the opportunity of taking a photo with this particular chameleon on a stick, he informed us in outraged tones, “This is a business here!”  (again: a chameleon on a stick…)

Finally we reached the Rongai route starting point, where we met our team.  Well, kind of.  We were introduced to half of 20 men and became very confused at the number of people posing for our team photo, which was exacerbated by introductions that included “our waiter.”  Ummm.. waiter?! On a mountain expedition? Little did we know at the time, that he would become our favorite team member.  We then provided entertainment for the multiple groups when we suggested that to compensate our luggage, they not carry chairs up the mountain for us.  This was clearly a ridiculous suggestion, as over a hundred guides and porters laughed and told us not to worry about such things. At this point, we did not realize that accompanying the chairs would be a table, dining tent, and portable toilet.

The hike started in the rainforest and we were excited to put our new gear to use when the first downpour hit.  The campsite was a bustle of activity with a number of groups arriving at the same time.  We were surprised to see that our group carved out an area in which to pitch 3 tents – for the 2 of us.  A sleeping tent, dining tent, and our bathroom tent.  We’ll just call this Cyrus City from here on out!  As soon as things were set up, Ladilos (our waiter) summoned us to the dining tent for popcorn and tea.  Talk about roughing it!