About 07:30 am: ....tap, tap, tap, tap......*silence*....tap, tap, tap, tap......*brain switches on*........TAP, TAP, TAP, TAP.......*wonder what they are working on*...........thud, thud, thud, thud, thud........*eesh it's the door*
TG: "Hello?" I called out from my bed
No one responded. Instead another series of knocks were launched.
TG: "Yes whaddya want?"
Again no one responded, maybe I'd just been dreaming and it wasn't our door.
BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG......it was definitely our door.
ARGH! I felt I'd only just fallen asleep in my "ditch" and now I had a rude awakening. I looked at Jess in the hope that she would get up but there is no sign of life. She either was a deep sleeper or had her deaf ears on as her bed was right next to the door. So I struggled out of my ditch of a mattress, clawed thru the mosquito netting to rip open the door. There was no-one. I was annoyed and headed back to bed. The ditch in my mattress sucked me right back in, but my head warned me not to get too comfortable even though it was tired.
Sure enough, 10 minutes later, the knocking started back up again with more urgency. Once again I struggled out of bed to open the door and this time faced Charlieze the receptionist.
TG: "Hey. How's it going?" I tried to be a little pleasant but am sure am frowning.
Charlieze: "I'm okay. You have been requested to join the others to go to the school. Team Kilimanjaro have organised transportation for you to go now"
The "others" were the rest of the team members, as seen in the picture on the right. In England, Tess had spoken to me about meeting up with them at the bottom of Mount Meru, a mountain the rest of the team were using for aclimitisation training. We had e-spoken about meeting up with them after 12pm to go to a school that Mary (a team member) had a connection with and wanted to help.
TG: "OK, that's great, we'll be ready at about 11am"
Charlieze: "Your transportation is ready to go now"
TG: "What is the time?"
Charlieze: "Quarter to eight"
TG: "The others won't get off the mountain until about mid-day, so we should be able to leave later" - All I wanted to do was go to back to bed.
Charlieze: "No you must go now. The transport cannot wait for you."
I turned to Jess, she had not moved nor made a sound, but I knew she was awake. Knowing that we had an agreement about sleep I still asked her about leaving for the school at that moment in time.
Jess: "How dare they dictate our day! I don't want to go........"
It's strange how someone else's grumpiness suddenly made me feel okay. We had to go. We had half of the gifts for the school and we had to be there from a team perspective. So a little negotiations with the receptionist, I organised another room for Jess to have a shower (remember there was no water in our room) and made her a honey and banana sandwich for breakfast to put her into a positive frame of mind. I also put in a room change request which Charlieze assured me would happen when we returned.
09:45: We left the Outpost for Meru National Park and arrived at 10:30am. The bus left us at the gate house so that we would not needlessly have to pay for an entrance fee. And so we waited. We met other guides and tourists who briefly chatted to us, who came and went. Mid-day came and still no sign of the others. By that time, Jess and I had made ourselves comfortable on the one sofa in the gate house. We took it over and duly fell asleep.
14:30: Our driver, Tess and Pete bounced in to wake us up with hugs and news about Jackie (another team member) falling and spraining her ankle whilst coming down the mountain, thus were slow coming down the mountain. It was a concern for the next part of her journey to Kilimanjaro.
Our bus was now full of guides, porters and the "others" who looked tired and worn out....a little "worst for wear". I would later find out that they found the Meru trek hard due to AMS symptoms. Jess and I looked fresh in comparison. However although weary, the team were strong.
It was a short drive to Ngorongoro Secondary School on a roadless entrance, and once we entered the school, we could hear the buzz of an excited school waiting for us. We were welcomed by a teacher acting as the principle of the school who took us into the staff room to meet the small teaching staff and to find out what their needs were. We were also provided an unexpectant lunch, and as we ate, the children lined up outside so they could all greet us with songs.
The children proudly took us around their school. Many of them proclaiming they wanted to be doctors. One said he would definitely visit me in England to be my pupil as he wanted to learn more martial arts. Flash back to moments earlier, in our introductions I showed the pupils and teachers how to do a little tai-chi with an imaginary watermelon which frankly I did not do the moves well. The student was insistent he would come to England to be my disciple. Hmmm yes I could see it now......"Tyre Girl brings Kung Fu to Tanzania"! Yeah a Kung Fu film that would be a best seller.........in Tanzania.
Anyway I think the English teacher will be bringing an adaption of my "martial arts" into her lessons changing the watermelon to a pumpkin. Oh dear I also realised I introduced some Singlish to Tanzania as well! Alamak sia!
After time with the school, it was time we returned to our "base camp" in the Outpost in Arusha. Over dinner the team had a debrief about their Meru experiences and it was decided Uncle Pete (in the picture) would meet up with Team Kilimanjaro to discuss food requirements and the guides the team would like to have. One of the Meru guides was reported to have been drunk on the journey and so the team wanted to ensure he would not be taking us up Kili.
Our team knew this was not just a climb up Kilimanjaro, they knew that it was a peace climb for world peace and environmental harmony. This journey would be Tess and Pete's completion of their 13 year mission to place peace messages and earth crystals in six high points around the world. I had promised to do this final mission with them and thus Amani (Swahili for "Peace") came forth that Pete lovingly decorated and adpated to store nearly 3000 peace messages collected from countries around the world. In addition we would be taking a lantern that represented the World Peace Flame. Our mission was to completely ascend Kilimanjaro by the 21st September, World Peace Day.
The team members took it in their stride and strategised when they would be handling Amani and the world peace flame on our ascent up the mountain.
22:00 - It was time for bed and I was unable to move rooms as there were no other rooms available. So back to my ditch! Grrr