Sunday, 16 February 2014

Days leading to the big Hike

Well, it was an interesting, LONG flight.  First time on KLM, and overall, it was a good experience.  With Jen's little surprise getting us first class seats, we began our trip sitting back with champagne as a starter (just what I need…a drink that goes to my head before a bumpy 9 hour first leg).  Just after takeoff...we experience something slightly embarrassing to both Jen and I.  We receive our first meal and noticed we both received lemon chicken skewers with a salad.  This was not acceptable seeing I had ordered the tenderloin and Jen ordered the pasta.  We called the attendant over and told her there was a mistake.  She kinda looked at us funny and first didn't say anything.  We thought she didn't understand us as they were all dutch (previously, I asked for a rum and coke and got a tomato juice haha).  She finally told us that this was an appetizer before the dinner.  Holly cow…really?  How much fricken food were we going to eat??  Well, by the time we landed…Jen literally could have rolled me out the door.  Add that with the really bumpy landing, I wasn't feeling too great.  One hour of transition, we were off on our second flight for another 9 hours.

Bubblies before takeoff
We thought this was the wrong meal ordered…I guess it was just the appy!
Seeing we lost our "cool" vibe…we were offered a picture of the 2 of us.
Just a side note…Our flight actually went right over Reindeer lake…I was able to see Crater Bay (South end of Reindeer Lake)…kinda cool.  Our second leg went over the Sahara dessert…insane how much sand we flew over!

Jen knocked out….me on the other hand… When I took this picture, my camera flashed…waking up anyone without a blindfold.
She gets more than enough sleep when she flies.
Supper…prime rib…yum
Breakfast before landing
Landing into Kilimanjaro was kind of interesting.  There were no lights to be seen.  Even after we touched down, Jen had to ask me if we landed... it was that smooth.  The airport was so dark….felt odd.  After the doors opened, everyone scurried off the plane (Jen teared up stepping onto African soil) in a mad dash to get their visa's approved.  Didn't take too long…maybe 15 minutes (4 windows visited….first one to get a stamp, Jens favourite, then forms approved, then finger prints taken, then access into Africa).  Once we got our bags, I ran to convert $200US into Shillings…which was funny because I literally got a pile of money 3 inches thick….yeash.  From here, Jen and I walked outside to 30-40 waiting tour companies holding signs.  Took us 10 minutes to finally find ours, Tro-Peaks.  Joseph was a friendly looking, shy driver who took Jen's bag and showed us to the van.  Once we were loaded, I heard a knock and looked to my left to see a wide eyed, super positive man with a big smile, looking at me and extending his hand to me.  I would later learn this was the famous Daniel….co-owner of the company that has been well liked by the majority of guests.

Can you count how many TO's
We had 40km to drive in total (just past the town Moshi)…which seemed like a quick drive…BUT, it felt a lot longer, and ended up taking over an hour….probably had something to do with the speed bumps every 100 meters and dozens of pedestrians walking on the dark shoulders the entire way.  Finally, the driver turned on the signal light, indicating we had arrived to the quiet street which accessed our lodge.  This is were I finally started to get a bit nervous - just like that commercial ad for booking.com on TV right now (look it up).  The road was almost inaccessible!  Some of the pot holes were big enough to get stuck in, and it was pitch dark.  What were we getting ourselves into.

Our room felt basic, with partial lighting aiding us just barely.  We were too tired to care.  We decided to set up the mosquito nets and hit the hay.  Even with the 100% humidity and +25 temperature, it actually felt quite cool through the night, even with just a little fan aiding our comfort.

Our bed…it worked.
It worked.  Keep in mind…in Moshi…this is almost the highest end ($50/night)…couldn't imagine the $15/night rooms.
The morning brought a refreshing positive vibe to it.  Birds I had never heard before woke us up…accompanied by roosters in the background and other different sounds we don't know yet.  As I dug myself out of our netted cocoon, the place looked a lot cleaner then I remembered the night before.  Jen like usual, was not ready to get out (Jen says: it's 7am on sunday with nothing open!), so I decided to go outside to see where we actually were.  Half awake, I walked onto the patio and immediately felt something was different.  All the trees were moving!    It took me a few seconds to realize it was 15-20 monkeys playing in the trees (what looked to be several families).  Oh yeah…we are in Africa!  This immediately gave me a jump to my step….I was ready for this :)

These guys were everywhere!  Wish I was able to capture a photo of a baby…but they were too fast.
The pool….main hangout spot in the afternoon (pic taken at 7am)
At breakfast (which was included and amazing), we met a few Canadian families who were extremely friendly…and a nice Irish couple!  We even shared a cab with a crew from Edmonton to town for coffee made from local beans grown on the side of the mountain (soooo good!).  Jen of course didn't have any, and settled on a tea.  After walking the street for an hour, we were finally suckered into an alley and ended up buying 2 wood figurines…they had us at hello.  The nice thing was…the cheap prices made it a bit easier, especially compared to Mexico.  Jen wanted more shopping time (ugh)….but our cab was waiting, and we had a debriefing with Daniel in a few hours, so off we went for some more speed bump driving;)

Such good coffee!!
Can you tell I'm enjoying it
Odd..there was a lady standing outside of the shop with a gun…random
Majority of the women exhibited bright colours….walking with stuff on their head.
Before jumping in the pool to cool down, we had our debriefing with Daniel.  He was a bit more intense then I was hoping.  I guess he just really wanted us to be ready…he was all business.  I did screw up on a few things.  First off…we are not allowed to bring any plastic bottles on the mountain…which was my plan, so I now need to rent a few jugs.  I also needed to bring mitt liners for the cold mornings…guess my ski gloves for summit day were not enough.  After all was said and done, (and our tour operator was officially fully paid), Jen and I realized we were going to be short US cash after all tips were doled out…..yeash, that sure didn't last long.

A cool snail on our exterior room wall.
Well…we are eating some stone fired pizza for supper (7pm) outside with thunder around us, we are hydrated up, and ready for what will hopefully be a successful 6 days.

See u in 7 day with good news…fingers crossed!





















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