Needless to say we all slept well in the hotel. The 4 that went on Safari had to get up at something like 6.15 (very brave if you ask me!) but Craig and I were staying for a rest so could lie-in. We woke at about 7.30 and then chatted for a few hours. Eventually we made it down to breakfast at just before 10. Normal food was so nice and my stomach was starting to settle down so I could eat a bit more than before.
We then settled down by the pool for a spot of sunbathing and started to drift off to sleep…again! Just as I was in that nice drifting off zone, someone from reception came to tell me the internet shop was now open and so I could use it when I wanted. I did want to update the blog and had asked them to let me know when it was open. Obviously I wasn’t best pleased to be disturbed but I tried to relax and drift off again. This was working when we had another interruption from the same person from reception, this time wanting us to check-out of our room! I had thought about asking for an late check-out but with all the tiredness of the day before forgot to do so. This second episode aggravated me even more but you should appreciate the hotel wasn’t particularly busy. Apart from Craig and myself there was the grand total of ONE other guest! Just why they had to clean the room there and then was beyond me because even if they had a mad rush of ten full coaches there were probably enough rooms spare!!! It was the end of the walking season so this was perhaps to be expected that the hotel was empty.
We both took a deep breath and tried to see the funny side of it, although by this time I had had a bit of a humour by-pass. They wanted $50 for the extra few hours which I thought was completely extortionate. Craig offered them $25 and the receptionist went to check with her supervisor. By now I was so wound up I wasn’t going to get back to sleep so went to reception and paid the $25. I think from the look on the chief receptionists face she thought Christmas had come early. To put it in context we had learnt the average monthly salary in Tanzania is $45.
As I couldn’t sleep the next best thing was to blog! So, I bought an hour of internet time and started to update the story. The time went quickly and I just about saved the changes with a few seconds to go before the clock ran out. When I got back Craig commented that he heard me shouting at the computer ‘ Come on, save it……..come on!’
By this time it was around midday and after a little bit more relaxing we ordered lunch by the pool, it was (Chezhuan chicken noodles) the nicest food I had had for over a week. We then finished our packing and got ready for the jeep to pick us up at 3.15p.m. to take us to meet the others at the airport, which was 2 hours away.
On the way we passed lots of very well uniformed school kids finishing their school day and I thought they very much looked like you would expect to see in the Western World. The buses were filled to literally overflowing and the towns were mostly primitive. Fortunately, after quarter of an hour we were on normal roads not dirt tracks. About three quarters of an hour from the airport, our driver commented that we had just passed the jeep that had just dropped off the other four at the airport and I thought it was a bit early for them to have ended the safari and they would have a long wait at the airport.
Kilimanjaro airport was very small. Almost as soon as we walked through the front door someone checked our passport and tickets. Another 10 metres further on were the check-in desks but there was no one manning them (because the flights weren’t called yet). We found the safari four in a bar/restaurant already quite bored! We caught up on the news for the day and found out they had a very enjoyable safari where they saw quite a lot of animals and it was certainly worth the early start and was great fun. To waste a bit of time we looked around the shops and bought some bits and pieces for our families at home. There wasn’t a great deal to choose from but we managed to find something.
The flight took off on time and even though it was only an hour to Nairobi we spread out and slept a bit…..again! As it was dark we didn’t get the chance for a final glimpse of the mountain.
Our stop-over in Nairobi was unfortunately 3 hours! This was too much for some of our group to endure and so we negotiated a bulk entrance into the first-class lounge. I don’t think they knew what they let themselves in for as six hungry Jewish lads looking for some food takes some satisfying ( to clarify: all food and drink was included in the entrance cost!). Anyway, we just about managed to eat enough mini-pizzas, samosas and much more to keep the hunger at bay. A few glasses of wine, the occasional beer and a Jack Daniels helped too, but not all for the same person!
I got on the internet for a while and updated the blog again.
Eventually, it was time to board our flight which took off on time and again wasn’t full so we could spread out and sleep…..again! I did manage to watch the film ‘True Grit’ also.
After the 9 hour flight we landed around 6 a.m. at Heathrow. We then learnt of the news that had been going on in our homes and in the world, the earthquake and tsunami had happened in Japan and events were progressing in Libya – none of this we had heard much off in our cocooned week. Stuart heard his wife had to have an operation whilst he was away and so he rushed off to the hospital (just as well he had given his luggage away)! Thankfully Natalie is now making a good recovery.
In all the excitement I only picked up my large kit bag and rucksack but left my small overnight case on the carousel! I didn’t discover this until I had reached home and so had to return to Heathrow Tuesday morning to pick it up – this was not exactly what I had in mind!
Leon (my brother-in-law, excellent mini-cab service if anyone should need, just ask) picked us up as arranged. He had also successfully climbed Kilimanjaro around 9 years ago and so we swapped some stories. He only laughed when we asked why he hadn’t explained it was so hard getting down from the mountain and we all agreed it was similar to the fact that women aren’t that forthcoming about giving birth to other women who haven’t yet shared the experience! Needless to say it was long before we all fell asleep ……again!!!
It was great for me to be back home with Lorraine and the kids as I had missed them so much. My parents also came round that evening for stories and supper and brought me a bottle of Champagne and chocolates to celebrate.
I found it very surreal to be back in our normal world, which hadn’t changed at all from when I left. But I had been on this amazing adventure, achieving so much on many different levels which seemed to have changed my own world and I now needed to reconcile the two.
It’s now nearly a week since I came back and I am still feeling the effects, although think I am nearly ‘back to normal’ – whatever that now means.
The story is now almost over. We have a get together planned for this weekend to swap photos and reminisce. I have a bit more blog to do, in which I will try to describe my feelings and thoughts about the whole trip.
I would like to take this chance of thanking everyone who has been following the blog for your kind comments and enthusiastic feedback since we have returned. I should also give a big thanks to Lorraine who, despite being quite ill when we were away, still spent hours each night collating information and updating the blog.