Kilimanjaro Expedition – Part 7

Part Seven – Aftermath of a bloody long walk!

Well, the walk is over and we’re back at the resort just outside of Moshi.  I have a seven-day growth and desire a hot shower more than anything.  Remember I’m blind and in a totally different country and surroundings.  The bathroom seemed like it was the size of a car garage, darn huge! The silly thing is I tried to have a shave…

The bus was leaving in an hour and half back to Moshi to purchase souvenirs.  Now, this was an experience.  As the bus pulled up in the middle of the road, into a parking space I can only presume, we heard people banging on the windows, apparently holding things up for sale.  “Good genuine tribal clubs at a bargain price.” They are offering anything from genuine tribal clubs and tribal knives, to T-shirts, music sticks and dolls. 

We are told very clearly not to buy from the spruikers outside of the shops and we worked out why.  One bloke tried to flog off a shirt to me for $20 USD.  I told him it was the wrong colour, so he ran away and came back with the right colour.  “Sorry, wrong design” – off he went again.  With my guide, we walked into the shop where these people get their wares.  It was $7 USD for the same item.  Handcrafted paintings are offered but it seems that no matter how often you turn around and show them your back they keep following you.  Hilarious.

So, I had the T-shirt I chose to buy.  Other people who chose to buy souvenirs were now back at the bus and ready to go.  Even then, people were banging on the windows trying to sell artifacts.  On arrival back at the resort we’re advised that dinner will begin at 6pm and then presentations at 7:30 with socialising afterwards.

Each person who came on the trek was gifted a certificate for their expedition.  The Gold band around the certificate signified those who made it to the top of Uhuru Peak and a Silver band for the young South African teenager who turned around at Gillman’s Point.  ( photo of my certificate is attached.)

The morning after I was instructed by my mate that we were to leave super early to catch our plane to Nairobi to make the connecting flight to Johannesburg, then Dubai for a couple of nights rest. I left it to him to make the arrangements.  We left at 4:30 am to get the first flight to Nairobi to then make our way to Johannesburg then Dubai.  Well, what a calamity. 

He got the times wrong and we were stuck in Tanzanian airport for hours with him on the phone to Brisbane to his PA to organise flights, accommodation.  Just a massive screw up and I was powerless to assist.  In a totally foreign country with no technology I could keep myself amused with, a monster head cold was brewing and I just didn’t want to stay where I was.  To keep himself occupied my mate was reading the local paper (but not aloud) as to what was in the Tanzanian news.  I can’t see, so I have no stimulation – no radio, no Facebook, no personal technology to feel like I’m part of anything.  While waiting for our plane, the one we were hours early for, the other trekkers arrived to catch their plane to Zanzibar.  This is hours after we left the resort!  The same question several times, “What are you fella’s still doing here?”  I was too stressed to talk.

We finally got out of Tanzania to Nairobi.  Once again another stuff up.  The flight booked from there to Dubai left 20minutes after we landed.  So, we left the aircraft, ran to the baggage area, grabbed our bags and made a mad rush through hundreds of people to the other side of the airport.  RIDICULOUS.  Made it there in time to hear the doors are closing and watch the plane leaving.  Fan-f-tastic!  We’re stuck for the night with my head cold sinking my emotions and morale. 

After gaining permission to leave the airport we went to one of the local zoos and a national park with a restaurant just to show that we’d done something. TIP – if you’re approached by someone who can recommend a tour guide and taxi, they’re on the take – another experience.)  Oh, the toilet at the zoo was a hole in the floor.  Now that is something when you’re blind!

Finally made it to Dubai.  Stayed at the Hilton, checked out a souk, and went out to the island shaped like a palm tree.  The aquarium out there has glass that’s 700mm thick and, according to the fellow who was with me, the glass wall was about 13m long and 6m tall.  They had scuba divers to clean up the fish poo!  It is definitely worth a look. as is going on a Sand Safari.  The day had it all – Four wheel driving, quad bikes and a camp dinner with a belly dancer.  “Twas a very nice show.” so I was told.

All in all – what did I learn from this experience?

  • I learned to appreciate what I have here at home in Australia.
  • Other lands and countries are worth exploring. 
  • No matter how crappy you feel you have to keep going or you won’t reach the summit of whatever you’re trying to achieve! 

I think this final one is the main lesson for me.  Physically I can achieve what I set out to do, it may take me a little longer but I’m going to have a crack anyway.  Just because I’m blind doesn’t mean I should live under a mushroom.

When relating my story – I’ve had many people say to me, “I wish I could do that.”  My response is, “The only person stopping you is you.”  If you want to achieve something, do it – take your thumb out of your dark spot and get off your arse!!

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