Wake-up was at 6:00, followed by breakfast at 6:30. Breakfast was porridge, eggs, peanut butter and jelly, and fruit. We had our briefing about the day’s hike and our health check, and we were off by 7:30.
Maxi was our leader for the day. They switch it up every day. JM and I got to talk to him about 90’s hip hop and how superior it is to today’s offerings because hip hop today doesn’t have anything of importance to say anymore. We reminisced about the days of Pac, Biggy, and N.W.A.
After just over an hour, we arrived at the moorlands, which is covered in very short trees. We’d left the forest behind. The landscape was entirely different. It was a wide open valley.
The climb also got much more vertical. We reached Shira I, which stands at an elevation of 3, 610 metres, around 1 pm. Despite the climb, though, my knees were feeling great. Between my braces, the walking poles, and the slow pace, I was becoming increasingly confident that my knees would survive through the week. Now let’s just hope my oxygen levels stay fine.
After our spaghetti lunch, August 1 brought us outside and introduced us to the whole group. There was the chef, Mr. Spice, his assistant, the porters’ chef, our server, Rasta Luca, and a score of others. There were water guys, camp maintenance guys, a Wi-Fi tent guy, and dozens more.
Then they all performed a beautiful song and dance for us. There was lots of clapping, shimmying, two-stepping, and getting down. Jerome in particular, had some pretty awesome moves. They all looked like they were having so much fun. Their smiles were uncontrollably contagious. I almost got emotional. (I think I’m becoming increasingly sensitive with age. It’s a little weird.)
Nancy got caught up in all the excitement and joined Jerome on the dance floor for a little arm-in-arm dosey do. Kate and I were later roped in on the action by Jerome as well.
Once they were done their performance, it was our turn to introduce ourselves. We said our names and where we were from. Then we went around and personally introduced ourselves to everybody with proper handshakes. I knew I had to introduce myself to the dude with the harmonica.
And that’s how Krispin became my new friend. From then on, every time I heard him play away, I’d turn to wherever he was and flash an approving thumbs up and smile.
After all the fun was done, I went back to my tent and did some reading and napping.
When I awoke, I heard roars of laughter coming from the mess hall tent. Sarah had brought along Cards Against Humanity, and Jerome, August 2, and Vincent were apparently naturals at it!
I think everybody’s favourite response was August’s answer to “I get by with a little help from…”
“…looking at pictures of boobs.”
Although almost everybody came with their own little groups, be it relatives or friends, we all quickly became a family. In fact, you could almost say that we became a little too comfortable with one another–though that’s probably natural when you’re sharing a Wi-Fi tent with 11 strangers. And Cards Against Humanity certainly broke down what little barriers of propriety there still might have been. Besides, as I’ve already said, we were climbing Mount freakin’ Kilimanjaro! That sort of things bonds you for life! We told stories, shared laughs, and recounted funny episodes from the day’s hike, just as any family would at home.
Dinner was chicken curry, with delicious crepes for dessert. Mr. Spice strikes again!
That night, when I went to the washroom in the middle of the night, I made sure to take fifteen seconds or so to appreciate the stars. I stood outside my tent marvelling at the ocean of little lights above me. This would become a tradition every night for the remainder of the hike.