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Shira 1 Camp Site - and our team of porters
Same old opening.....had another rough night. What was it this time? Over tiredness and becoming anxious about sleeping!

Today AMS would come drift by me, knowing I was vulnerable and as much as I tried to push him away, he would soon overcome me. He would just abide his time waiting to strike.

Same old breakfast, a cup of hot chocolate and a piece of dry bread. I was beginning to feel weary but would not accept the weariness. Dehli belly, or should I call it Tanzy Belly, was still messing with my stomach, however my head told me I was fit enough to pull a tyre. After all what was a little tiredness. I've felt worst in the Hatfield McCoy marathon, having completed it with pretty much zero sleep.

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Amani had called Kevin....
Onwards to Shira 2 (3950 metres)
Today would be a short day with only an ascent of 100 metres. As I went to pick up Amani, this time no one stopped me. I carried him to a flat part of the track and attached him on. As I began to pull and tug Amani over the rocks, he called to Kevin (guide), who decided we should carry Amani together. Kevin is a discerning guide, who could see when the "clients" needed help. I guess I needed help as I dragged Amani over rocks and sometimes flipped him over, and was thus told off by Uncle Pete not to burr the nuts on top. The nuts helped hold the screws that were securing the containers of peace messages.....or perhaps it was the Amani whispers telling Pete "things".

...and when I had some flat ground Jess and Jackie had other ideas......

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The place I gave myself to the mountain...
But soon that "Tanzy belly" would be back to taunt me and Sakimba would seize the opportunity to take Amani away from me as I had to "sight-see" too often, or perhaps Sakimba had seen something. My pleas of "please can I have my tyre back" were ignored. Sakimba would look after Amani for the rest of the day.

Only soon after, I began to feel a little wretched. I had increased my water intake as well as had increased the lucozade tablets I was taking. My head was not feeling well along side my gurgling stomach. I decided to crunch on a lucozade tablet and drown it with more water. A sense of nausea overcame me. Just as Jess had climbed over a steep pile of rocks, I ran to the side and threw up behind the nearest bush. Jess heard and swung round with concern.
Jess: "Aunty, you okay?"
TG: "Yes absolutely. Today I have given myself to the mountain. I feel much better.....so much better! Yahoo"

I felt a little lousy, my head felt hazy, my eyes felt tired and it reminded me of when I threw up before my first marathon after eating a bowl of oat porridge. I still made it round the course and then slept loads after.

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The Caves: Trying to look happy...
I brushed off any further concerns, but AMS wanted to take my mind. I drank more water to push him away and slowed my pace to be just ahead of Anne and Jackie and of course sang a chirpy tune to change my frame of mind.AND I nearly succeeded until we closed in on another rocky out crop. My head began to go down hill. Mary was a little concerned about me and again I brushed off concerns with "Am just waiting to give myself to the mountain once more". The caves were beautiful, but I could not appreciate them. As I walked away from the caves with Jess and Mary, I could feel my being tremor.

"Mary and Jess please just keep walking forward and DO NOT look back!" I commanded

Mary and Jess looked apprehensive.

"Keep moving......" I commanded again and at that moment I could no longer hold anything within. Mary and Jess wanted to come back to help me.

 "Yes - I give myself to the mountain....." I yelled signalling them to move on.

But I kept on vomiting for a good 5 minutes, and Kevin came to console me. I wanted to be alone as I threw out of me what ever was in me, which wasn't a lot! And when I was finally done: "Thanks Kevin, I feel so much better now. Just a spiritual ritual we all sometimes have to do".

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Shira 2 camp site
Shira 2 was just round the corner and so was the dreaded lunch. I could not eat anything as much as I wanted to try. Instead I drank some sugary ginger tea and joked to the rest that I was trying to lose weight. Coca leaves were on offer as a way to keep AMS at bay and I was given a little stash. I thought they were hot chocolate leaves and drank a cup of leaves stewed in some water. It tasted like chinese oolong tea. I was corrected that these were in fact cocaine leaves and could be bought from the homeopathy shop. I returned my stash back to its owner and gave the rest of the contents of my cup to someone else. Great, I thought, well surely one cup would do no harm.

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Top of the ridge
It rained a little but Jess and I still had to do an aclimitisation walk to ascend about 100 metres before dinner. So after about a couple of hours rest the rain stopped and Jess and I were taken for a walk by Kevin and James (guides) up a steep slope whilst the rest of the team read the day's peace messages. I felt better after the rest and the sweet ginger tea or perhaps it was the coca leaves, however I found I was moving very slowly and presumed my lack of eating was playing with my energy levels. But onwards we would go to what ever the level our guides wanted us to be at.

The top of the ascent was marked by rock cairns and sculptures (they have a name that I've forgotten). As we rested and looked across the valley, the clouds pulled apart and we were rewarded with our first sighting of the peak of Kilimanjaro glistening warmly in the sun. It was beautiful, but it was getting cold and we needed to be down for dinner.

Dinner! I forced a bowl of soup down and drank more ginger tea. I really needed to go to bed.

That night I fell into the abyss. I had drunken so much to ward off AMS that I had to fly out of the tent four times super urgently to relieve myself. I also found myself very restless and alert. Coca leaves are a stimulant and I am hyper sensitive to stimulants. A cup of coffee drunken in the morning can give me a headache and keep me up the whole night, and a can of red bull I drank once at 6am in the morning kept me awake for the next 2 days!

As the night continued and I tried to relax, my heart was beating hard and fast, reverberating in my head. I tried to deep breathe to slow my heart down, but this was going to be a long night. After the third time flying out of the tent to relieve myself, my nose began to bleed. Crap I thought......well at least I wasn't having to do larger dumps any more as there was nothing in my stomach to dump out!  I wanted to sing a song to entertain myself using my heart beats as a metronome, but did not, so I would not disturb my sleeping buddy. All I could do was to try stop my nose bleeding and listen to my heart thumping itself silly. Dawn finally broke and I listened to the sounds of our entourage waking up to prepare our breakfast. A sharp pain was ringing in my head. My head  was "properly hurting" and I was now suffering from the "worst ass" headache I have ever experienced.

Story to be continued over the weekend........

 
 
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15th September 2011: Mti Mkubwa (big tree) campsite, (2750m)
Yes it should have been a good night's sleep, but how could one be expected to sleep with the excited chatter of porters, guides, and other campers that joined us in the night. This camp site was busy with at least 2 other tour groups and their team of porters and guides.

6:00am: Leopold and Andrew gave us an early morning wake up call, serving us with hot drinks and later on bowls of hot water. Breakfast would be served by 6:30am and we had to ready by 7am for a 6-7hr walk to Shira 1 camp site. This would be a routine that would be repeated every morning, and every morning I would wish to stay in bed longer, however Jess would get up when the bowls of hot water arrived for us to have a wash. Then in military fashion, she would be up, dressed and packed. I on the otherhand tended to have "stuff" out and was a little slower in packing up. This morning, Jess was getting a little worked up pushing her sleeping bag back into its stuff bag. I listened to her struggle for a while before finally deciding it was time to drag myself up from bed and help her shove her sleeping bag into its bag.

Mornings - are my least favourite part of the day especially if I've not slept well. However the group were in a chirpy positive mood and thus would force me to be in a better frame of mind. I was not terribly hungry but made myself drink a cup of cocoa, eat 2 pieces of dry bread, and watched the rest of the group merrily enjoy breakfast.

Mti Mkubwa camp (2750m) - Shira 1 camp (3850m)
07:30am: We were slow to be ready and some of the group had not completed their packing. Porters were waiting to pack up our tents so that they could run to the next campsite. I again tried to take Amani the tyre, but Jess seized her opportunity, wanting to do her part now, in case she did not feel up to it later on. Uncle Pete gave Jess a pulling strap to tow Amani, but Jess was happy carrying him. On the otherhand, my soul sister Aunty Tess was not happy that everyone was carrying the tyre. Back in the UK, we had discussed that multiple people would pull the tyre together up the mountain and thus the strap line on the tyre "Pulling together for Peace". But this was not practical given the narrow paths and the group wanted to help take the tyre up the mountain, just not in the idealistic manner that we had perceived. Tess and I are masochistic and we would have dragged that tyre all the way up the mountain. But Amani knew he was special and would convince others to carry him.

Aunty Tess would try to rectify the situation herself and take command over Amani. However Amani whispered to the closest guide and soon James (guide) could not help himself, and found himself carrying Amani. Aunty Tess would ask James to put Amani down, but James could not resist the urge to pick Amani up and carry him. For Amani held the messages of peace from thousands around the world.
Unfortunately today my stomach was a little quesy and upset and I had hoped that since we were carrying peace, peace would be around to sit quietly and contemplate the world. Instead with streams of other tourist groups and porters passing by, it was diffficult to have some "poo" time and I needed to have a number of "poo" times. Just when I thought it was quiet to let things go, another team of people would come streaming by and I'd find myself quickly pulling my shorts back up to hide my modesty.
Our walk would take us through the Podocarpus forests, into the Juniper forests and out into the heath zone where we would have lunch. I had to force down some bowls of soup and bread. Unfortunately my stomach was not happy with what I was eating and it got rid of what I put into it within an hour. Thankfully it was great scenery, and despite there being other groups around, I found some solitude.
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After lunch there was a swap over of duties to carrying the lamp. However Aunty Tess wanted to continue dragging Amani on the dirt track and again Amani would whisper to someone behind. This time it would be to Sakimba, a maasai warrior the team had picked up from their first aclimitisation trip a week ago. Sakimba is a proper warrior, having killed a lion to be granted that honour. His name means "peace" in the maasai language and he quickly developed an affinity to Amani, much to Aunty Tess' frustration. But Amani needed Aunty Tess to let go of any idealistic staunch ideas, and allow the group to interact with Amani freely. For if she did not, it would soon become an egotistical conflict. At this moment in time, Sakimba appointed himself as the bearer of Amani.

I soon dropped behind the rest of the group to "look at scenery" but kept up with Anne and Jackie.  Having to do nature's call often from trying to drink 2 litres of water, meant that I observed a lot of scenery. I also observed a lot of toilet paper and wished tourists were made to be more responsible. The American nature parks have a saying "Pack out what you pack in and leave no trace". That includes toilet paper being "packed out" of the parks with images of animals getting wrapped up in the debris. It would be good if Kilimanjaro adopted the same stance.

My head was feeling heavy and the sky seemed to reflect the feeling in my head. Black clouds loomed above us and soon rain began to fall. First gently and then poured out of the sky. Soon the path ways became rivers and our gaiters and rain proof boots would not hold out the flooding plains. Despite the pouring rain James and Raymond steadfastly continued to look after Jackie. Anne and myself found ourselves moving a little faster, but then slowed again to allow Jackie to catch up. As we approached Shira 1, the rain slowly petered out and we arrived with very wet feet.

Aclimitisation, Oms and Peace Messages
The late afternoon smiled again and the waters were quickly sucked into the thirsty soil. Thus we (minus Aunty Tess who needed to prepare the peace messages) had great weather to do an aclimitisation walk up a hundred metres, complete with 6 rounds of "Oms" (a meditational sound). Admitedly there were some of us who could not maintain the statis of allowing our minds freedom with the single sound of an Om (me included). Between fits of giggles we would complete our Oms and do a couple more when joined by Jackie and Anne. However the Oms did its job, and the group went back down to camp for dinner looking more refreshed than when they had started.

Dinner - again I struggled to eat anything substantial. My head was tired and would welcome an early night for sleep, however tonight we (minus Jacob and Gideon) would read the first offerings of peace messages, joined by Felix and Sakimba. The messages were mostly written by children, and was a real insight into what concerns schools have higlighted to children Most were about global warming and war. After about 200 messsages we called it a night.....and what a great night it was, to see the sky lit up with millions of fairy light. Normally I would just watch the sky for shooting stars, but my head told me it would be sensible to go to bed and watch for shooting stars on another night.

The next write up will be on Wednesday 26th October

 
 
14th September: Sleep Illusions
It should have been a good night's sleep but again it was fragmented with Jess' phone once again telling me "the Mexican" had sent a message and then later into the early morning a car alarm constantly sounding. I could only lie there praying for the owner to sort it out sooner or for someone to just burn or steal the car. I tried to mentally silence the car but my tyre moving powers failed me! Thankfully after about an hour the alarm was somehow silenced. As for Jess' Mexican....well we had a power cut when she was charging her mobile. Power was re-instated in the early morning and as her mobile charged up, the messages also came charging through.

After 2 days in Arusha, it was time to climb the mountain. There was concern amongst the team members about the shadowy figure of AMS. I knew I was prone to it. I have had symptoms:
- the first time I went up Snowdonia (Wales), I had a horrible headache and found it hard to move;
- Ben Nevis (Scotland) a taller mountain was totally fine although had ascended it slowly with my cousin;
- Kinabalu (4200m), we moved up fast and would not listen to our guide who told us to slow down, I suffered with a terrible headache and threw up;
- Mt Blanc I was fine but again had moved up slowly.

Ridges and climbing rock faces to get up a mountain are more my thing......on the other hand walking up a mountain.....well this one was honouring my promise to Tess. Thus my strategy to get to the top would be to take it slow and easy, at my own pace, as I would do in a marathon and it was a break from the fast paced life I seemed to be leading.
08:00 The team of porters and guides who were based in Arusha came to the Outpost and greeted us with a song about Kilimanjaro before collecting our baggage. The singing and dancing was much appreciated to bring a positive mood to the team, however it was time to get on the road to Kilimanjaro.....

The Road To Kilimanjaro
Of course we had to have a break down! Jess and I were in the same car!!! Always good for an excuse to stretch one's legs. We would finally enter the park to register and be greeted with planks of notices, warnings and advice.
Our porters:
- had to have their bags checked to ensure they had the right gear for survival on the mountain otherwise they would be barred
- the bags they would carry had to be weighed to ensure they were not overweight
- and then finally they had to register in.

Mary counted that our team of porters had expanded to 35, as well as our guides to 6. They would be with us for the full duration of the 10 days carrying all our equipment, food, and luggage. We were expected to do nothing but carry at least 2-3 litres of water, snacks and simply walk. Even then, if you required it, guides and porters would carry you up the mountain. This was a totally new experience for me and one that I felt uncomfortable with.
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From the registration point, we returned to our 4 wheelers, back onto a lumpy track. It was a shock to see that our team of porters would not receive a ride to the start point and in fact would have to make their journey by foot carrying what ever loads could not be taken on the 4 wheelers.

Of course our vehicle did not make the entire journey and so we found ourselves changing to the vehicle that had managed to make the entire journey and had dropped off the other 1/2 of the team to the start point.

About 14:30: By the time we had arrived at the start point, porters drenched in sweat, carrying equipment and food were also arriving. Many of these guys were young, in their early to late 20s so had the energy and strength! I wondered if they had bet each other on a race to the start.

We were encouraged to sit and wait for lunch at a table, however the dark clouds that had loomed in the distance as we drove to Kili, were now over head.

Let The Ascent Begin
Droplets began to fall, first in slow motion, an advance warning, and then the rain music began. The porters who had mushed up as fast as possible to the start point, some hauling up pieces of a tent, now had to quickly put up that tent in the now light falling rain. Once the tent was up, we were quickly herded into the tent. The rain began to fall harder and quicker and soon we had a down pour. Here we were gathered in the safety of the tent, whilst the porters and some of the guides huddled outside under the forest foliage to stay as dry as possible. The discomfort of "We" and "Them" would be something I would be keen to break down. "We" were a team and that included "Them".

When lunch arrived, again the food smells made me feel slightly quesy. I could only guess that the lack of sleep for the last 1.5 weeks was starting to take its toll on me but I still had energy and I knew I was strong enough to keep going. I forced down 2 bowls of soup and a piece of bread. By the time we had finished lunch, the rain had stopped and we were all ready and keen to get going to the first camp site. But before we could begin the trek, we would introduce the rest of the porters and guides to the final members of the group - the Peace Flame and Amani. Anne opened the walk with a prayer and Tess continued with more words of peace and love......which was hurried along by Freddy as time was getting on and so was the light. So a final closing song from the rest of the porters to celebrate the start of our ascent up Kili.
About 15:30: As I went to take Amani, Jacob halted me....."Hey we agreed we would be the first to take the tyre". I was confused. I don't remember any conversation taking place, but was happy to oblige since I was also in charge of taking video footage with a vid cam that I was not really familiar with!
The Forest Walk
I started off at the rear of the group taking some final video footage for the day. Felix decided to stick with me, to be my personal guide. He was chatty and it was okay for the first couple of hours but when I am out in nature I like to hear nature, feel nature, be with nature. He began to remind of a runner who stuck with me for 4 hours in a marathon, chatting non-stop and who I had tried to get rid by slowing down and had encouraged him to carry on, but he slowed down with me. It was only when I met some friends along the route that I could persuade him to talk to them and not to me. (thank you my friends!!!). Felix would continue his chatter until we had caught up with Jackie, who was taking it cautiously to protect her ankle, and being held by two other guides who would personally care for her for the duration of the trip. Anne was slightly ahead and now I could dissapate the energies of my chatty guide to the others.

As darkness began to sneak in, I walked ahead in front of Anne. In the twilight, the shrubs and trees gradually became grey outlines and the birds sang a final chorus for the night. The guides advised us to put on our headlamps. Having good night vision, I held off putting on my lamp, wanting to retain a wider vision. As night embraced the forest, the faint moonlight through the trees made my path just perceivable. Felix again asked me to put my headlamp on, instead I gave him my headlamp. He refused to take it/switch it on. He stumbled on a root and I gave him to take one of the walking poles I was not using to help him anticipate any foot level obstructions. He took it happily.

About 20:30: We arrived at camp 1 amongst a flurry of activity and a porter greeted me to show me to my tent that I would be sharing with Jess. Dinner was ready and so were the rest of the starving team members. Again I had to force some food down. All I really wanted was a good night's sleep and I hoped that this would be that night.

Next write up will be completed by the 24th October.
 
 
13th September: The Tour
For the last couple of days Jessica has been eating more than me! Yes this is a big deal as I normally finish my plate and then consume her half meal that she typically cannot finish (well she is wee lass). From the flight to now in Tanzania, I've had a general lack of appetite and an unappreciation of food smells. In fact today the food smells were making me feel a little nausea. I blamed this on another bad night's sleep and a general feeling of tiredness. Jess' phone had been sounding off during the night about messages from the Mexican and from Uncle Wayne. They had sent their messages at midnight UK time which meant we received them at 2am Tanzanian time. Additionally, although I had turned the mattress over and placed the thinner side at the bottom of the bed, my bum sat in a part of the ditch AND despite placing my head up to the "absolute" top of the bed, my feet still hung off the bottom of the bed. This morning, I felt I had a big bum. So although Jess had offered to exchange mattresses, I managed to secure us a room change to a much larger bed, a far better mattress, and a nicer room.

Jess and I spent the morning sorting out what we would actually take to Kili, as we were told that each porter could only carry a maximum of 15kg of our gear. In addition, they would also have to carry their own kit to survive the mountain plus anything else if any porter's went down (more in another story)! Thus we ended up leaving a full bag of gear behind. After all the night before leaving the UK, both of us had done last minute packing and that kind of packing often results in too much gear.

15:00: Today was a rest day for the Meru team members to get their laundry done in preparation for Kilimanjaro. None of them were that interested in "going out on the town", so Jess and I decided to exchange some dollars to the local currency (Shillings) and check out the local stores for snacks. As we exited from our hotel road onto the main road, a local called Eddie intercepted us who wanted to sell us some paintings that he had wrapped in brown paper, but neither Jess nor I were going to bite at this time. He chatted to me to find out where we were going and if we knew which way we were going.

TG: "Yes we are going into Arusha town"
Eddie: "Oh if you want to go to town it is left"

Darn - found out! Jess and I had started walking in the wrong direction and Eddie had corrected us. He would now be rewarded with a chance to sell himself further.

We went into the first supermarket along the road and as it was near the hotels it had tourist prices, thus we decided to find another supermarket. Really this was the "girl" in me saying I had to look at all the supermarkets and their prices before I actually bought anything! After all we had time to kill. Eddie had waited for us outside the shop and at this point he decided to be our guide warning us that we should not walk along this stretch of road at night by ourselves. (This would later be confirmed by the hotel receptionist). Below is a little tour of Arusha town.
Eddie wanted to show us more places - museums that were across the road from the freedom monument and a masai market with handicraft that was also apparently close by. He was proud of his city, but we really needed to head back for a meeting with the rest of our team and the lead guides from Team Kilimanjaro, so Eddie escorted us back to our hotel. Of course, as expected, he sold us some paintings with a whole lot of bartering involved. He had started with $120 USD and I had started with $40 USD. But as he did look after us, I relented and bought 5 batik prints and one painting for $60 USD. One of the others in our group had bought his batiks for $5 a piece, but I had no regrets it was still a fair price. Eddie had sold himself well during his 2.5 hours with us, being our guide, protector and teaching us some words in swahili that would give us some kudos with the porters.

The Meeting
We were late, and quickly entered into the hotel, to find the rest of the team members organised around a table waiting for us and the guides from Team Kilimanjaro. They soon arrived and the faces of the group dropped when they saw Felix (the Meru guide they were not happy with) enter. The mood of the group changed to a mixture of emotions. Frederick (or Freddy) was to be our lead guide and Felix would be his senior assistant guide. As both Freddy and Felix briefed us on expectations and checked Jackie's sprained ankle (that was rapidly healing due to Anne's care), members of the team decided that what ever happend on Meru would be left on Meru and forgotten. After all everyone deserves a second chance to prove themselves.

We were already told that Freddy was Team Kilimanjaro's best, and he would quickly show himself to be an excellent guide/co-ordinator of our team as well as for the team of porters, guides and cooks that would support us up the mountain. Felix would ensure he did not make the same errors and would prove to be a really good assistant guide to Freddy.

Tomorrow our journey  up Kili started and I hoped for a better night's sleep.

Next installment will be written up by 17th October
 
 
12th September: Morning Call
About 07:30 am: ....tap, tap, tap, tap......*silence*....tap, tap, tap, tap......*brain switches on*........TAP, TAP, TAP, TAP.......*wonder what they are working on*...........thud, thud, thud, thud, thud........*eesh it's the door*

TG: "Hello?" I called out from my bed

No one responded. Instead another series of knocks were launched.

TG: "Yes whaddya want?"

Again no one responded, maybe I'd just been dreaming and it wasn't our door.

BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG......it was definitely our door.

ARGH! I felt I'd only just fallen asleep in my "ditch" and now I had a rude awakening. I looked at Jess in the hope that she would get up but there is no sign of life. She either was a deep sleeper or had her deaf ears on as her bed was right next to the door. So I struggled out of my ditch of a mattress, clawed thru the mosquito netting to rip open the door. There was no-one. I was annoyed and headed back to bed. The ditch in my mattress sucked me right back in, but my head warned me not to get too comfortable even though it was tired.

Sure enough, 10 minutes later, the knocking started back up again with more urgency. Once again I struggled out of bed to open the door and this time faced Charlieze the receptionist.

TG: "Hey. How's it going?" I tried to be a little pleasant but am sure am frowning.

Charlieze: "I'm okay. You have been requested to join the others to go to the school. Team Kilimanjaro have organised transportation for you to go now"
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The "others" were the rest of the team members, as seen in the picture on the right. In England, Tess had spoken to me about meeting up with them at the bottom of Mount Meru, a mountain the rest of the team were using for aclimitisation training. We had e-spoken about meeting up with them after 12pm to go to a school that Mary (a team member) had a connection with and wanted to help.

TG: "OK, that's great, we'll be ready at about 11am"
Charlieze: "Your transportation is ready to go now"
TG: "What is the time?"
Charlieze: "Quarter to eight"
TG: "The others won't get off the mountain until about mid-day, so we should be able to leave later" - All I wanted to do was go to back to bed.

Charlieze: "No you must go now. The transport cannot wait for you."

I turned to Jess, she had not moved nor made a sound, but I knew she was awake. Knowing that we had an agreement about sleep I still asked her about leaving for the school at that moment in time.

Jess: "How dare they dictate our day! I don't want to go........"

It's strange how someone else's grumpiness suddenly made me feel okay. We had to go. We had half of the gifts for the school and we had to be there from a  team perspective. So a little negotiations with the receptionist, I organised another room for Jess to have a shower (remember there was no water in our room) and made her a honey and banana sandwich for breakfast to put her into a positive frame of mind. I also put in a room change request which Charlieze assured me would happen when we returned.

09:45: We left the Outpost for Meru National Park and arrived at 10:30am. The bus left us at the gate house so that we would not needlessly have to pay for an entrance fee. And so we waited. We met other guides and tourists who briefly chatted to us, who came and went. Mid-day came and still no sign of the others. By that time, Jess and I had made ourselves comfortable on the one sofa in the gate house. We took it over and duly fell asleep.

14:30: Our driver, Tess and Pete bounced in to wake us up with hugs and news about Jackie (another team member) falling and spraining her ankle whilst coming down the mountain, thus were slow coming down the mountain. It was a concern for the next part of her journey to Kilimanjaro.

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School Visit
Our bus was now full of guides, porters and the "others" who looked tired and worn out....a little "worst for wear". I would later find out that they found the Meru trek hard due to AMS symptoms. Jess and I looked fresh in comparison. However although weary, the team were strong.

It was a short drive to Ngorongoro Secondary School on a roadless entrance, and once we entered the school, we could hear the buzz of an excited school waiting for us. We were welcomed by a teacher acting as the principle of the school who took us into the staff room to meet the small teaching staff and to find out what their needs were. We were also provided an unexpectant lunch, and as we ate, the children lined up outside so they could all greet us with songs.

...and in return we gave them footballs and netballs that had been compressed so that could fit into our flight baggage. It was only then we realised a pump would have been good. Opps! No worries, a teacher said he could easily pick up a pump from town as bicycles were common and fortunately Jacob and Gideon (brothers in the team) had the needles for the balls.

The children proudly took us around their school. Many of them proclaiming they wanted to be doctors. One said he would definitely visit me in England to be my pupil as he wanted to learn more martial arts. Flash back to moments earlier, in our introductions I showed the pupils and teachers how to do a little tai-chi with an imaginary watermelon which frankly I did not do the moves well. The student was insistent he would come to England to be my disciple. Hmmm yes I could see it now......"Tyre Girl brings Kung Fu to Tanzania"! Yeah a Kung Fu film that would be a best seller.........in Tanzania.

Anyway I think the English teacher will be bringing an adaption of my "martial arts" into her lessons changing the watermelon to a pumpkin. Oh dear I also realised I introduced some Singlish to Tanzania as well! Alamak sia!
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Introducing the Other Team Members
After time with the school, it was time we returned to our "base camp" in the Outpost in Arusha. Over dinner the team had a debrief about their Meru experiences and it was decided Uncle Pete (in the picture) would meet up with Team Kilimanjaro to discuss food requirements and the guides the team would like to have. One of the Meru guides was reported to have been drunk on the journey and so the team wanted to ensure he would not be taking us up Kili.

Our team knew this was not just a climb up Kilimanjaro, they knew that it was a peace climb for world peace and environmental harmony. This journey would be Tess and Pete's completion of their 13 year mission to place peace messages and earth crystals in six high points around the world. I had promised to do this final mission with them and thus Amani (Swahili for "Peace") came forth that Pete lovingly decorated and adpated to store nearly 3000 peace messages collected from countries around the world. In addition we would be taking a lantern that represented the World Peace Flame. Our mission was to completely ascend Kilimanjaro by the 21st September, World Peace Day.

The team members took it in their stride and strategised when they would be handling Amani and the world peace flame on our ascent up the mountain.

22:00 - It was time for bed and I was unable to move rooms as there were no other rooms available. So back to my ditch! Grrr