NOTE: While on the mountain we had very limited cell reception and certainly not enough to upload photos and work on the blog. Additionally, I didn’t have everyone’s photos at the time of posting so will likely add more photos later.
Well, I’m writing this sitting in my cozy tent in the rain forest with the multitude of ants tunneling their way underneath and my hopes that they will not find their way in. I’ll explain shortly….
The day began with breakfast at Tumaini Cottage – all the fruit and vegetables grown on the premises and fresh scrambled eggs from their own chickens. Pendo came by at the end of breakfast with the boys, Lennox and Lee (now 9 and 6 years old) along with 9 month old Gabriella who is as cute as a button. It was great to see the boys this morning, especially because they are heading off to boarding school in Nairobi tomorrow. It was tough for Leonard and Pendo to make that decision, but for them to get the education they deserve they have to go to private schools which are far to expensive in Arusha. There are public schools here, but as only 30% pass the standard seven exam that allows one to go to secondary school (equivalent of our high school), it leaves much to be desired.
We said goodbye to Pendo and the children along with Tumaini Cottage and began our drive to the trailhead that would begin our journey up the mountain. At the gate we met up with the entirety of our “crew” which is comprised of a head guide, two assistant guides, a cook and nineteen porters. The amount of equipment necessary is fairly immense as there are tents, sleeping pads, a mess tent, food, and other necessary supplies that have to be carried up the mountain with us. And the porters are only allowed to carry a certain amount of weight. We then drove the trailhead for our departure from civilization as a steady rain began and by the time we got out of the Land Cruiser, it was a full downpour requiring that we deploy every bit of rain gear that we had. We ascended about 2000 feet in several hours in and out of a pretty steady rain that managed to cause everyone to be quite wet by the time we reached camp which was already set up by the porters who went of us as we trekked up the mountain.
We have the luxuries in camp which include the mess tent and, of course, a lovely private toilet tent with a chemical toilet no less. We had popcorn before a dinner of wonderful leek soup followed by cut up potatoes, vegetables and fried talapia. During dinner, Danielle decided to use the bathroom and found herself doing the best imitation of the hot potato as the result of bitting ants having crawled up both legs of her pants and were actively biting her. Such is life in the rainforest. Jeff and Nick went to investigate and found multiple sizes of biting ants all actively staking out their claim to The best possible real estate when it comes to hitchhiking on a unwary travelers pant legs. After Jeff and Nick nuked the toilet tent with bug spray and salt from the guides, it turned out that the ants were already circling our tents and planning a major offensive. So here I sit in my tent typing this blog post and don’t dare stray out of my tent lest I get carried away by these rain forest arachnids from hell. Hopefully, tomorrow will be drier and less buggy than today. We have been given our wake up time of 6:30 am as we have a much longer hike than today as we try to acclimatize as we make our way to the top.