Today we are off to Moshi! We had several ways we could get there:
- Andy offered to set us up with a private driver, or he could drive us himself for $100.
- We could take a dala dala, also known as a mini bus. “It is a 16-seat van that fits 30 people.” They drive pretty recklessly and get into accidents frequently.
- We could take a bus.
We ended up choosing option #3. Since we had our suitcases with us, we had to buy two extra tickets at $2 a seat. Andy and his wife drove us to the bus terminal in Arusha which was absolutely insane. There were people and buses everywhere, and there was no way we would have known what to do if we were there by ourselves. Luckily Andy’s wife bought the tickets for us and told the bus driver (who doesn’t speak English) where we needed to be dropped off. Everything was in the driver’s hands now.
After cramming people into the bus like sardines, we were greeted by many people outside our window trying to sell us stuff. Charlie ended up buying a Fanta soda just to get them to go away.
Eventually our bus set off, and it actually wasn’t as bad as I expected. When it dropped people off, it would take off again while people were still jumping on!
Eventually the bus stopped, and the driver looked back at us with a concerned look on his face. Apparently he had driven past our destination, and it was our time to get off. A man on the bus pointed us in the right direction, and then we were stranded. We spoke to a local who spoke a little English and consulted our guide book, and it turns out we only had to walk about 1000 feet to get to Ahsante Tours. It was quite a sight with us towing our suitcases on the side of the road.
When we got to Ahsante Tours, we met our guide (Arden - pronounced like “Alan” but with a “d” instead of an “l”). We also met Abel, who I have been doing months of email correspondence with. He said he was very touched by one of my emails and said he could tell we’re not here just to waste away our money.
Arden and Abel discussed our itinerary and climb with us, and then went through all our gear with us. Arden insisted on us bringing gaiters, which we really didn’t want to use, but we ended up renting them for $10 a pair (we never used them once on our climb). Arden told us more about his history as a guide. He has been working on the mountain for 6 years. Like most guides, he started out as a porter for 3 years. Then he did training and testing to become a guide. To be a guide, you need to score above a 65%, and to be an assistant guide you need to score between 40-65%. Part of the test involves being able to summit in a certain amount of time. Arden said he has climbed Kilimanjaro over 100 times.
Once we got our bags okayed, we drove over to Weru Weru River Lodge. WOW, what a beautiful place! It was basically this beautiful “island” of beautiful buildings, plants, and even a pool… which is surrounded by a third world country outside of their walls. We relaxed for quite a bit, got some bottles of water since you shouldn’t use the tap water, and then went for a swim in the pool which was nice and refreshing.
As we were relaxing on our patio, we met a retired farmer from Canada. His son, daughter-in-law, and grandkid were currently climbing Kilimanjaro. His wife walked past, and shortly after tripped and fell on the ground. She ended up slicing her hand open and had to go to the hospital. We thought she broke her wrist because it took her a while to stand back up. When she got back from the hospital she said they didn’t have to stitch it up since it closed up on its own. She got some antibiotics for $1.5 and had an ER bill of $75.
After that, we went to a buffet-style dinner which was delicious since it was mostly Western food. I had 4 rolls, spaghetti, chicken, rice, and a baked potato. Today was a good day aside from the fact that we are both suffering from the inevitable traveler’s diarrhea. It’s bearable, and I’m just grateful that my stomach is doing well otherwise.
We retired fairly early tonight since our climb starts tomorrow. I can’t wait!