From Kilimanjaro with love

Kili is waiting for us

Kili is waiting for us

Kilimanjaro, Tanzania                                                                                                     Uhuru Peak (19340 ft/5895 M)

Highest point on the African continent

World Prominence Rank- 4

Octomber 9-16, 2010
Via Machame route

First day in Africa  (the 9th octomber  2010)

The first Tanzanian we met

The first Tanzanian we met

After  a   demanding  flight  (I  just  loved the  Indian  Ocean,  seen  from  the skies), we  finally  landed  in  Tanzania  at  Dar es Salaam,  the  House  of  Peace.  As  soon as we got off the plane we entered a different world.  First  of  all, people were all blacks. And  they  were  dressed  in  a  weird way, especially   women.  They weren’t wearing dresses  or high heels, but  some  beautiful clothes  named  khanga.  Dad  grabbed the first   African  person  he  met  and  asked  him  politely  to  accept  to  be  part of  our first snapshot in Africa. We’ll take you to Romania, in a photo, dad, told him, and he was as happy as a child could be!

I   found  out   later  that   back  at  school  one  beloved  teacher of   mine  asked  “Where is Alexandra?”, and my classmates responded proudly “In Africa!” So the teacher said: “How come she dared  go to Africa during school?”  Well,   what can I say…I will learn many more interesting things in Africa than at school, so Africa, here I cooooome!

In The Indian Ocean

In The Indian Ocean

We   were  welcome  by  Mr.  Richard,  the representative  of  the  travel agency, that later  led us  on a tour of the city together, along  with  the  driver  Bacari.  It  was  so amazing.  I  had the opportunity to dip my feet  in  the Indian Ocean. I noticed people were  getting  in  the water fully    dressed which  intrigued  me  a lot,  and  only after I   found out   that   they were muslims  so I understood  the reason.                         They  weren’t  allowed  to  bathe  in public spaces undressed.

The Fish Market

The Fish Market

Then   we    walked  to  the   Fish   Market (Kivukoni  Fish  Market).   Well   what   an amazing   experience!  The market is very busy  especially  in  the  morning when the fisherman bring in their catch for sale.       I  enjoyed  the idea of walking through the market,  procuring  our own fish  and then taking  it  over  to the kitchen area,  where locals   were  cooking  soup   in   huge containers that could easily swallow 2 or 3 grown ups.

We  also  visited  Coco  Beach, named after the coconut trees on the beach, and drunk some coconut milk, which was, as a matter of fact, delicious.

We went back to the hotel after this and bought some souvenirs on our way. We were drained out but I can say it is much better in Africa than in the classroom,  studying.

Second day (october 10th 2010)

I  found  it  very  interesting  to  fall  asleep  as soon  as I  hit the bed, which is very unusual for  me.  We  woke  up  at 5:00  in   the  morning  and  after  a  delicious  breakfast  we  met Mr. Richard who led us to the couch for Moshi . At 5:30 in the morning, when we arrived to the bus station, it was hot already but fortunately the bus had air conditioning. I was a little bit  disappointed as  I though we would travel surrounded by hens and pigs, the way I have seen  in  the  movies, but  that  of  course,  wasn’t  true,  it’s   just  what  it  is wanted for us  to believe.  Anyway  this  was  good  because  I do not think I could have traveled for a long time that way.  Mr.  Richard  climbed  in  the  bus  with  us  and  became  all  of  a  sudden a passenger as the doors were slammed shut and the bus set off.  We had to struggle in order to convince the driver to let him out.

Alexandra and Blondy

Having lunch

We finally set off. We were the only whites in the bus and dad kept telling me every 5 minuntes:  “Alexutza,   we   are  in  Africa! I can’t believe it!”  I think he was trying to convince  himself  he  was   not   dreaming. We  traveled  for hours and  hours  across  the    African    savanna    and    the    sisal  plantations.  We took  a lot of pictures and made  friends  with an African lady named Blondy.   Everything   was   just  so   exotic looking  for  me.   The   bus  stopped  only  once,  at  a restaurant where we had meat and fried potatoes.  I  think  it  was  the only one around, cause all the buses stopped there.

Moshi

The restaurant in Moshi

Finally   we  made  it  to  Moshi,  were  the agency   representative   was   missing    in action.   A  very   kind  gentleman  made  a phone call  and in  few  minutes,  Elias, our guide  showed up together with the driver of  the  company.                                             All  the  way  to  the  hotel  they  discussed with dad in English and Italian. Daddy was charmed.  At  the  hotel  they  had a  beer. In  the  meanwhile I  started exploring the surroundings.

Soon  I  discovered  the  swimming pool …  Of   course  I took a  dip,  what  were you thinking? After that I met a group  of Irish people that  were to  climb Kili  by  taking the  same route as us.  They  were  doing this in order to raise  money  for  a  hospital  in  Ireland.  Once  back in  the hotel  room  I wrote a bit in my diary ,  watched  the  Tv  for a while,  but of course I couldn’t understand anything because people  weren’t  talking  in  any  languages  that  I  knew and then went to sleep, thinking of tomorrow.

Third day in Africa (Machame Hut) (october 11th 2010)

Machame Gate

Machame Gate

I   think  I  had  a  very  good  night  sleep, because   in  the  morning  I  felt  perfectly rested.  Elias  came  to  pick  us  up and we set off for Machame Gat to get registered. It took us around an hour,there were a lot of  tourists  anxious  to  do the same as us, but  we  finally managed to do it.  We were walking through the jungle and I could not believe  to  my  eyes   seeing   the  strange shaped   trees,   with     vines   weaved   all around  them.   If  Tarzan  had showed up, we would not have been surprised.

Lunch in the jungle

Lunch in the jungle

He did not,  but  instead  we  met  our first porter,  Shila.  After  a  two hours walk we reached  the  place  where  were supposed to  have  lunch, and  where  waiting  for us there  were   a  table,   chairs,  cutlery  and plates. We even had beautiful napkins! Dad  looked  at  me  and we both burst out laughing.  We  were picturing in our minds our  lunches  in  the Carpathians, taken on top of some boulder or whatever. Anyway,  we  had  soup,  sandwiches   and also desert.

On   the  way  we   spotte  some monkeys and birds, but few because there were too many people  around  for  them  to come  out.  I think  of  my  classmates  and  I feel much better, because I  feel  free  and  I  think  this  is  worth  it  more  than  what I study in school. I see fantastic things, new people and mentalities.

At  6:00 p.m.  we  got  to  Machame Hut,  that was crowded with people. We also met there the Irish people from the hotel and talked to them a lot.

The Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty

In   the evening I  asked  Elias  to tell me a story about  Kili.   He  said  that  the  locals believe a god  lives on top of the  mountain and  that  if  there   is  no rain or too many diseases that means  the god is angry.  He  said  that   even   nowadays,    the    Masaii perform   human    sacrifices   in   order  to please  the  god.  I  hope  this  is  not  true. I  asked  him  how  many   times   he   had  climbed  Kilimanjaro and  he said  that  he  stopped   counting    when   he  arrived  at  200  times.  I  was  amazed when I  found  out that he had climbed Kili at least 200 times, and that the locals  think  it  is  not  a   good  thing  because it can disturb the god.  I  hope,  as  I am the  only  kid on the mountain, that the god won’t get too angry this time. So for now I bid you good night because it is late and I am tired.

Forth day in Africa (Shira Camp) October the 12th 2010

Dear diary,

The alarm  went off at 6:00 am.  We  packed up,  got dressed and got out of the tent.  Mike, one  of  the porters   welcome us  with a tray  full  with  milk,  tea,  hot chocolate and  coffee. I  think  I  will  put on some weigh.  The sun  took his place above our heads and everybody was  getting  ready  for  the morning walk.   So  as  soon as we finished our breakfast off  we started walking  uphill.  The landscaping looked differently, much different than the one we had seen before, reminding us of  the Indian village we have  visited in  Canada, where they were  putting  their  dead  on  the tree branches.  Dad  was fascinated  but me I was kind of afraid.

On  the  way  I  talked  with  a  Pakistani  girl  living  in  UK that had walked the Annapurna Circuit and had visited Machu Pichu.  She  was  very  talkative.  Elias  talked  us  into  going directly to Shira Camp  and skip lunch,  because  we  looked  in  good  shape. We walked for hours, long and demanding hours, when all  of  a  sudden  I  felt  a  raindrop   on  my  hand.  It was raining.  Quickly  we  took  our  raincoats on and took shelter in a overcrowded cave. There were at least 10 men there,  of course  not  the  ones from  Neardenthal, but modern ones.

Senecio Kilimanjari trees

Senecio Kilimanjari trees

After  the  rain  stopped, we  set  off  again towards  Shira  Camp.  I  admired  a  huge plant  named  Giant  Lobelia,  the   Senecio Kilimanjari   trees   and   also    met   some Everlasting  Flowers,  flowers  looking  like they  were  made  out  of  plastic.

The  Kilimanjaro  Impatiens   is found nowhere  else  in   the   world   except   the jungle floor of Kilimanjaro.  My  favourite   was  the   Protea  kilimandscharica.

044

We  reached Shira  by  14:00  p.m.  We  had   lunch,  took  a  nap  and  then,  even  thought there was a light raindrop,  walked  to  Shira  cave.  Everybody on our way asked  me  how old  I was  and where I was from. Of  course   I mentioned   Romania  a  lot,  and Elias  also  told Dad that  it  is a privilege for him to take a  kid,  my  age,  up to Kili.  It is the first time they  accompany  somebody of my age. They treat me very nice,  I  am  the  pet  of  the company.                                                                                                                                                                      We  had  a  nice  conversation  with  a Canadian lady from  Quebec living  in  Etiopia  and  a  couple of English people.

Of, I am so sick of this porridge  and soup. We  get  this  every  day,  apparently  because it  is  very  nourishing.  Some  how  I  will   get  over this, but  I  do  not  want to hear the word porridge ever again.

Good night!

Fifth day in Africa( Barranco Hut) October the 13th 2010

The Shira Camp

The Shira Camp

I  can not  believe  how cold is  in  the tent. I  got  dressed  and  left  the  tent  where I was   welcome   by  our  cook  who,  with  a smile,  said:   Alex,  would  you  like   some porridge?  No,  not  again. I hate porridge! I  ate  nonetheless,  becaus  it’s difficult to climb up a  slope with  an  empty stomach. On  the  way  I  talked  to Caithleen, a nice Irish lady that was saying:                           “I climbed other mountains,  but this one is torture.”

She  was  kind  of  right,  but  “pole-pole”,  our  efforts  were  rewarded: the volcano of Kibo showed  up  in  all  his  glory.  We  made friends with a group of Irish people: Laura and her father of  63,  her  husband  and  a  couple that was to get married on top. I love mountains, but I think a bride should wear a proper wedding dress. My opinion.

The Hapiness of Being

The Hapiness of Being Together

As  we   were getting closer to Lava Tower we heard some  noise.  Well, a group of 30 porters were dancing and singing: “Say ye ye;  ye,  ye,  say  ye  ye ye ye; Kilimanjaro, Kilimanajro,   pole-pole,  pole-pole”.  They were  celebrating  their  meeting,  the  fact they  were making money, the hapiness of being together, the life. We dropped of our backpacks and joined them.Even thought  it was fantastic, later  I paid for this with a terrible headache.

Alex and Lava Tower

Alexandra and Lava Tower

Finally  we  carried  on  with  our walk, me and  my  headache.  Dad   and   Elias   kept telling me to drink  more  water, but I just couldn’t  force   myself  into  doing  it.  The water  had  a  bad  taste. I know one thing, next time in Africa, I will bring water from Romania.  After  two  hours of climbing we made  it   to  Barranco  Camp,   where  the tents   were    already     waiting    for    us. My headache had vanished so I ate a little bit,  wrote  into   my diary and introduced  myself  in  the  sleepingbag.  I was starting to drift away when dad called and asked me to get out.  I did not like it, but it was worth it.  Outside, on  could  see  the  volcano  and the wall illuminated, all under a carpet of bright stars and a fantastic moon.

Fantastic, but I am getting cold and sleepy, so good night, tomorrow is a tough day.

Sixth day in Africa (Barranco Wall & Barafu Camp)  October the 14th 2010

Climbing Barranco Wall

Climbing Barranco Wall

To   my   great   surprise,    I    woke    up headacheless.  I  was  feeling  so  well, and  the  view was  fantastic.  The great wall of Barranco   stood   up  in  front  of  me   and behind it, Kibo, enveloped in snow.

Soon we started climbing The Wall. Pretty tough,  but  I  liked  it.  We  met a group of 20  Americans that asked me where I was from  and  how  old  I  was.  At hearing my answer   they   burst  out    in   applause.  I thanked  them and carried on walking, my cheek in fire.

On top of the wall

On top of the wall

After 1 hour climb we stopped for a break. We were now on top of the wall, where we could see people walking in rows like ants.

After  a   10   minutes   break,   we   began climbing  downhill.  Tens  of  porters  were climbing  without  stopping  at all, because they  had  to  arrive  in  camp and prepare dinner, before the tourists arrived.

Far away, on  could  see  Karanga Hut. We had  to  cross  2 more  hills  and  valleys. It didn’t seem so far away, but when we arrived on top of the first  hill,  Karanga  Hut seemed very far away. Weird, isn’t it?

We  finally  passed  Karanga  Valley  where  a  little  stream  was  flowing  by  and we began climbing the second hill.

It was 1 o’clock already so we stopped for lunch. Because it was cold outside, we  decided to eat  in  the  tent.  After  lunch,  we set off again and met that Irish group that was gathering founds  for  the children’s  hospital.  They  told us that one of their teammates was taken to the hospital this morning because he felt sick and  his body temperature was low.

Time passed faster when I was chatting with someone, and the road seemed a lot easier, so I just kept on talking.

On the trail

On the trail

Finally,  after  three  hours of climbing, we arrived to  Barafu  Camp.  While  we  were having dinner, Elias proposed to set off for the  peak  tomorrow  morning,   instead  of walking  during the night, because it won’t be  so  cold,  and  we also could admire the view.  So  we  decided to go for the peak in the morning.  I  hope the god of mountains will accept us, we tried hard not to get him mad.

Seventh day in Africa (Uhuru Peak) October the 15th 2010

Dear Diary,

Pole-pole

Pole-pole

I did it!  We  summited it!  I managed,  we managed  to  climb   the   highest   peak  of Africa!  We  set  off  at  6 a.m.   We walked very   slowly,   “pole-pole”   as   they   say, because  of  the  altitude. The climb can be divided  into  two,  the   first  ascent to the rim and then  the traverse around the rim to Uhuru Peak. We  saw the sun that  was  soaring above the white clouds and  when  the  fog  disappeared  we could  see    Mawenzi,  a  very good looking mountain.

Rest on the trail

Rest on the trail

The road seemed to get longer and longer, and the peak seemed  far  away.  We were walking  slowly,  breathing  deep  at every step,    and   frequently   we   saw    people climbing  downhill with big smiles  on their faces.  I  knew  they  got  to  the  top,  so  I congratulated  them  and  hoped  I will get there too. Dad  told  me not to think about how long the road is,  just put a leg in front of  the  other  and  carry on.  And that was what I did.

The last "Snows of Kilimanjaro"

The last “Snows of Kilimanjaro”

Here  we are! We arrived at 5800 meters, at  Stella  Point,  where  from we could see the glacier and the  crater.  We  met  there Gabriel,  a  guy  that  lives  in  Chicago and summited already five summits  from  the Seven   Summits   Circuit.   Wow!!!    What surprised  me  was  the  fact that he asked one  of  the  porters  a  cigarette  and  gave him  twenty  dollars.  Lots  of   money   for something that does you no good. Dad told him  that  for 20  bucks for  a cigarette, he would  have  climbed  downhill  and   bring back a full box.  From  Stella  Point  we  climbed on for 30 minutes and arrived on the peak.

Karibu (welcome) to the roof of Africa!

Karibu (welcome) to The Roof of Africa!

I   am   the    highest   girl  on  the   African continent,    above   me,   there    are   only clouds.  And  God  that helped us get here. Me and baba muzungu (that  means white father in Swahili language)  made  it to the top.  I am so proud of us!  We  took  lots of pictures  with  me  holding  the  Romanian flag and the coat of arms of my city.             The  view can be incredible, with the lunar landscape of  the  crater  itself  to one side, the   dramatic  glaciers  and    far  reaching views over the plains of Africa.

Dad, Alexandra, Elias and the dormant volcano

Dad, Alexandra, Elias and the dormant volcano

Elias,  Mike,  Goti,  me  and …dad also who was  dancing  and  recording  in  the  same time  sang  and   danced   the   Kilimanjaro victory song. I asked dad to film me while I  was  thanking  God  and  the people that sponsored me and I dedicated this success to   my  mom,   my   best  friend   and   my grandparents.                                            On  the  top  we  arrived at 1 o’clock which was very good because we had lots of time to  climb  downhill.  An  hour  later, we bid goodbye to  the  highest peak of Africa and set off  towards camp.  A   long,  steep downhill  climb  was  awaiting but we were so happy, that we  didn’t  even  notice how fast we arrived to the camp. In 3 hours we arrived to  the  tent  and I finally grabbed a bite.  I  was  starving.  We  chatted  for a while and then I went to bed, dog tired.    I am so happy we made it to the top, and I am  so  proud of  me  and  of  dad,  who, of course, always supported me.

The Crew

The Crew

Thanks to our crew, we couldn’t make it without you:

Elias Daniel                                              Shila from Manila                                   Miko                                                                Alif                                                            Godi                                                               James                                                                Bariki                                                         Santaeli                                                 Steven

Eight day in Africa  octomber the 16th 2010

Dear Diary,

Goodbye Uhuru Peak!

Goodbye Uhuru Peak!

This  is  our  last  day  on  the mountain so I  have  to  bid goodbye to Kilimanjaro and Uhuru  Peak, the peak that I climbed only yesterday.  The  road  downhill seemed so long. I am worn out and I used most of my energy for  these  climbing days… Now it’s time to go downhill and I have to appeal to my inside  forces  to  get  downhill.  On our way back, we spotted monkeys, Black and White  Colabas  Monkeys.   They  were  so small  and  beautiful  that  we could barely see them.

Six  hours  later  we  arrived  to  Mweka Gate  where we met  Lameck,  the guy that had to drive us to Arusha.  We had lunch and then I had a long phone talk with my mother.  When I got back dad was engaged in a hard negotiating conversation with two africans over three objects of handicraft.  In  the  evening,  by  6 o’clock  we  got  to our  guide  house. Big, large house, but hemmed in by huge walls,  meant  to  keep  the  intruders  away.  For supper we had  some  spaghetti  and fried  bananas.   These people act so friendly as if they have been knowing us for years.  I would  like  to have  them in Romania as guests and show them my beautiful country.

Ninth day in Africa (the massai village) october the 17th 2010

 

175In  the morning,  after a  generous breakfast, we went to the souvenirs shop, where  I  had another   life   experience.    For  an   hour,   I enjoyed watching my dad haggling with a big mama. You should have seen him. It was like he was born here.

Into The Massai Village

The Masai Village

But  this   was   just   the  beginning,  cause after that we had the Masai village. At our request,  Elias  took us to a remote village, situated at the foot of Mount Meru. It was extremely  interesting.    Everybody    was watching us,  the  kids  were  staring  at us and   any  time  dad  took  his  camera  out they  were  fleeing.  One  of   them  lost his pants while trying to save his ass from being photographed.

184We  could  not  understand  why  they   were doing  this,  till  the moment we realized they were  afraid  not  to have their soul stolen by our  snapshots.  We  asked  Elias  to tell them that  we  will sent the pictures back and from that  moment  on  everybody was more than wiling   to  appear  in  our  pictures   Next we entered  one  of   the  huts  where   we   were shown  the “first  bedroom”,   “second  bedroom”,  “living room” and the room for the cattle and the goats.  Of course  the  parting  walls  were  made  out  of  some vines, so  that inside was very smelly. I could not take more than 10 minutes. Then one of the women invited us to  her  hut and proudly showed us the way she had decorated it with mirror breakings and photos taken from newspapers.

180After  visiting  the  village we were invited to have  lunch  with  them.  They were having a communion  day,  so  we  were  invited to the party.  I  entered  the front  yard hoping that nobody  will  notice us which worked quite all right  till dad tipped his hat and said out loud “Jambo” (good day).  I though I was about to faint.

Now 50 people were staring at us…. 50. We sat at the table and, under the stares of a mass of  Tanzanians,  we  had  our  first  traditional   lunch:  all kind of banana cooking. I think for most  of  them  we  were  the first white people they have ever laid eyes on. There was also this  little baby girl  that  was  fascinated  by  us  but  did  not dare to come closer. One step forward,  one  step  backward.  After  10 min, she finally made up her mind and came to us. When she touched dad’s palm she looked completely amazed. Third degree encounter.

Elias  come  to  us  and said that we had to finish them off or the hosts will feel insulted, so… “keep on eating”.

After  lunch  we  said  “Thank you!”  and  asked how much it is going to cost us. They said it was  on  them,  so  we  left.   Once  out  on  the  road  I  see dad all of a sudden walking back through the gate, and going directly to the head of the community he gives him 20$ saying: “For the church.” They  were  so  touched  by  his  gesture  that  effectively  they queued in order to shake dad’s hand. I was proud of him.

Back in Arusha we bid good bye to our tanzanian friend that we were going to see for the last time and climbed upstairs to our room.

What a room. Two large beds, wrapped in white sheets, a bathroom with running hot water. Imagine this after 7 days of sleeping in a tent. After a fantastic bath we went downstairs to have lunch or supper in the restaurant. But there were 4 of them. Finally we made our minds up for the Mediterranean one.  We also considered going for a dip, but after having a large pizza, we went to sleep. We were exausted.

Tenth day in Africa(bus and plane)

Morning

Morning being 5 o’clock am. At 5:30 we were supposed to be taken by an agency employee to the bus station, but now it was almost 5:45 and our bus was setting off at 6:00. We decided to take a cab. Once in the bus we settled down when all of a sudden our Tecla burst in crying asking for pardon and mercy. She had had a big problem with her car. We told her every thing was OK but she was so shaken that she could not stop crying.

We still have 8 hours to travel in front of us. Same landscape, same restaurant, same cook we left there 10 days ago, but stii interesting things to see.

We finally reached Dar es Salaam where Richard picked us up  and led us to the airport. I can not believe I am going home. I see the clouds running above me while underneath the landscape changes continually. I see Africa vanishing away together with its wonderful legend and charm, I fly above the Indian Ocean and finally the most desired Romanian land.

We are home, we made it! We held up the flag  of our town and country on top of Kilimanjaro, the highest peak of Africa, and also we came back in one piece and good health.

You can watch pictures from Tanzania by clicking on Picasa and video right here:

 

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