Tuesday, 4 August 2009
Day 8: The final descent
Our last morning with our crew was fantastic - we had breakfast (no porridge, but Semjon and I loved the pancakes!) and packed up our dust ridden belongings for the final time. We then got the opportunity to say goodbye and thanks to our crew - all 14 of them ( I underestimated the number in an earlier blog post). We exchanged kind words of enjoyment, respect and thanks and sang a few local songs to celebrate the adventure ... it might not sound cool, but it was one of my favourite moments of the entire experience - I guess you kind of had to be there... it was a genuinely wonderful way to say our goodbyes.
We hiked with Bruce for about four hours to our final destination and subsequent shuttle off the base of the mountain (around 2000m). The indestructable Semjon was proven mortal after all, as he had been suffering from painful knees throughout the majority of the decscent ... I felt bad for him as he hobbled down, but I must also admit that his malady made me feel just a little bit better about my relative fragility during the summit climb (sorry Semjon!)...
I am writing this blog entry back at our hotel - the clearing house for Kili climbers. A fresh batch just arrived this afternoon ... it feels strange to be back here a week after we left, as we all agree that we have been through such a rollercoaster of an experience. It feels like we have been away for much longer.
As we sat at the hotel having a beer, I secretly hoped that some newbie climber would approach us so that we would have the opportunity to regale the tale of our adventure and in the prcoess offer some words of support and practical advice ... alas it never happened....
We are all very aware that thousands of people summit Kilimanjaro each year, but it is ultimately an incredibly personal experience and very different for everyone. Somehow it really does feel like an achievement and therefore an exeprience that you want to share and celebrate with others.
We finished the final day by having a beer with Bruce and a couple of our porters - Frederick and Richard. They are really good guys and looked after us incredibly well. We amply repaid them their attentiveness so we were all content with the rewards derived from the last week's experience. They presented us with our official certificates and individual handmade bracelets (which they thoughtfully organised independently). We all feel very lucky to have experienced Kilimanjaro with such a relaxed, experienced and attentive crew. Bruce was a true gentleman - fantastic at planning our days, keeping us safe and healthy (or as healthy as possible under the conditions) and keeping us entertained. He was wonderfully supported by his crew. Considering we spent most of the past week above the clouds, we didn't want for anything... except maybe a proper toilet and thicker porridge... Seriously - thank you for everything guys!
Tomorrow Paul and Semjon fly to Zanzibar - they've found a wonderful boutique hotel and booked the honeymoon suite... I remain in Moshi for a further day and then fly to South Africa (to Richards bay via Jo'Burg) to ride horses.
I will miss Paul and Semjon. The past week has been an incredible experience and it has been wonderful to be able to share it. Our trip doesn't exactly end here, as we will spend the coming weeks exchanging photos and video footage, making photo books and a video diary. Importantly, we will also be working with Charity:Water to organise how the money we have collectively raised (so far about US$25,000 and rising) is spent. We would like to invest some of the money into water projects for Tanzania. We will post updates on how the money is being spent on this blog as well as our fundraising page.
It's amazing how a giant lump of rock can bring together three friends to create a unique story and an unforgettable journey. Our lives and friendships are richer for this exeprience. We all hope that you have enjoyed sharing it with us through this blog...
Anton, Paul and Semjon xx