Thursday, January 29, 2009

First Night~~~Mandara Huts

On the way to the first nights lodging there were so many beautiful things. From the canopy of tropical trees covered with moss, to the African Impatiens, the Bloody Lilies, and waterfalls everywhere. It was an amazing hike. Once at the Mandara Huts I once again had to check in, but not before each member of my team was there to do a round of high fives. After checking in I was given the key to hut number seven, and was soon joined by my two new Austrian friends husband and wife, Nina and Martin. Nina was the person I had asked to take a photo at the base of the Mt. Both Nina and Martin spoke very good English, and were very comfortable to be around. Being in the company of those from other nations, I learned most all speak several languages and speak them very well. Then, there was me, I was doing good to say "Jambo" hello in Swahili.

After settling into hut number seven, I simply wanted to take in some of the happenings about the Mandara Campsite. The guides and porters quarters are on the opposite side of the guest huts. It was amazing to see all the porters, cooks and guides bustling about just to ensure the clients were taken care and happy with everything. Soon one of my porters came with a basin of hot water and soap so I could wash up and get ready for afternoon TEA. I took one sip of the tea and that was enough for me. I'm no sure what type of tea it was, but it was definitely not Lipton.

After tea, Andrew, one of my porters, and I walked a short distance up to the Maundi Crater. From which you could see Tanzania on one side and Kenya on the other. What an amazing sight to see two different countries from the top of one mountain. Plus in the trees there were several "Bush Babies," a small rarely seen bush monkey. I think Andrew was more impressed with the Bush Babies than I was. Once back at the Mandara Campsite dinner was ready, but I wasn't, as my stomach was upset from the altitude. Some of the dishes at dinner I knew what they were, others I had no idea. I found the key was to take a rather small bite and try to figure it out. This is how I got my first taste of GOAT, yes goat and Cucumber soup. GROSS!!!!!! I really do not think anyone should make soup out of a cucumber. After getting both in my mouth the trick was getting it out..... The whole time I was thinking of a Big Mac & Fries, and honestly couldn't wait to get back to my hut and find a Power Bar.

Shortly, after dinner it was off to hut number seven for a restful nights sleep, yeah right! I knew the altitude makes ones urinary tract system work over time, but this was ridiculous. Every two hours I was runny to the long drop. The bad things was the long drop was a good hundred yards away and the monkeys and other wildlife were making a horrible racket. I finally learned to step outside the hut, drop my drawers and hurry back inside. The night seems long in a way, but very short in another. At 6am there was a knock on the door, it was Tea time.


From Mom: Well, I made it through the first night okay. I was glad to get to the first night’s lodging or hut. I still can’t believe I am here. Saw monkeys on the way. It’s very green and thick. Oh & I have to be positive about my job. Average years pay here is $450.00 per YEAR! So, go easy on the luxuries of the 44 oz Diet Cokes. Love Ya, Mom, Lauri, and Grandma

From Tiffany: Awesome! I am so proud of you! You have had tons of replies to your messages. They are on your blog and mine. I told Brykn you saw monkeys and he wants to know if you have got his elephant. He says we can put it in the barn. Hang in there today! You are doing great. And, the picture was awesome. We love you!

From Sana: I love knowing you are loving your walk. Those huts are a welcome site. Africa is in every breath. May He continue to watch over your every step.

I've Arrived at the Base of Kilimanjaro

At the Base~~Marangu Route
Thursday January 29th. Bryson, my guide, two porters Andrew, and Kennedy, and my cook Uto, picked me up at the hotel at 9am, for the first day of paper work and hiking the mountain. The ride to the base of Marangu Route was such an eye opener. After all my first sights of Africa were in the dark. Okay, so I had my eyes closed most of the time due to the fact Bryson's driving scared me to death. Finally, I had ridden with someone who's driving scared me more than TJ's does.
This morning I was getting a look at Africa first hand, there is so much poverty compared to American standards. The houses are small shacks, shacks that would make the Goshen Trailer Court, look like the Ritz. There are cows, goats, and donkeys wondering in and out of the strip shops, children running around with no shoes in filth and manure, and women cooking corn on little barbeque's in the middle of it all.

There are fifty-eight million people living in Tanzania, over seventy-five percent of who walk everywhere they go. Needless to say these people are thin and are in great cardio-vascular shape, but I had to wonder about other deficiencies. When Bryson ask about my hometown, I told him the population of Goshen is about eight hundred TOPS. He just laughed and said that in not a town, it's a village.

After a thirty minute drive we were at the base of the Kilimanjaro, Marangu Route. I was surprised at the check in process, the park officials run a tight ship or mountain if you will. I had to fill out several lines of personal information. Bryson had prior obtained the permit to hike and cleared it all through the guard with a large gun. These guards have no sense of humor and take their job very serious. When I asked if he could turn around, so I could get a better photo he yelled at me, I took that as a definite NO!

Not only do the guides and hikers have to check in, the porters and cooks do also. They were all lined up checking in and weighing all the bags. Many of these men, mostly in their twenties and thirty's climb the mountain up to 150-200 times a year. What a hard way to make a living of approximately $200.00-$250.00 a month depending on tips.

Soon we were off up the Mountain, it was hard for me to believe me Lauri Wall, from a small village in Utah, and someone who has never really hiked was trudging up Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was exciting just being on the Mt. after all it is the highest free standing mountain in the world. Not far up the trail a young boy from a near by village came out of the trees holding a stick with a lizard on it. He said something in Swahili, when I ask Bryson what he said? He replied he wants you to take a picture of his lizard for money. Call me a sucker, Yes I did and gave him a dollar. This little boy ran off in to the jungle with a smile on his face, Bryson just shook his head at me but, smiled too. Bryson explained to me everyone no matter the age, has a job to simply survive.

The first days hike was easy about four hours of a steep incline, with the trail being worn and easy to walk on. On the first day we hiked up through the Rain Forest, so it was very beautiful and the temperature was cool. The monkeys jumped from tree to tree high above our heads, as if they were playing games with me. Coming into the Mandara Hut camp site was a welcome site, after all I had, had very little sleep in over a week.

Well, she made it to her first stop on Kilimanjaro; and, sent us a picture. She looks like she's doing good!
From Mom: Hey, I made it to my first stop!!! This is my first stop for the night. Love ya all.
From Karen Boothe: Jambo! One question you didn't ask-what side of the road does Africa drive on? Ha Ha! Remember, the word of the day is Pole, Pole.
From Sana: Wow you are in AFRICA :) Take it all in with pictures in your heart.
From Jacquie: Glad you made it. Hope you have a good time. Love ya. Jacquie