Jan 17, 2014

Pole Pole

Pole, Pole means “slowly, slowly” in Swahili. It was the mountain mantra recited by guides and porters reminding us to move slowly so we can acclimate. It also became reminder to slow down and enjoy the moment taking in the breathtaking views we encountered. It wasn't until I was in Zanzibar days later that I'd realize the mantra was more than safety advice it was a lifestyle.

views from Shira camp

Day 2 -
I woke up well before the 6:30am wake up time and laid in my sleeping bag taking a deep breath into my body noticing the aches and pains from the previous days work. My hips and shoulders felt tender from my pack and from tossing and turning on the ground all night. The best way to sleep in a sleeping bag is on the back, however it’s also the COLDEST way. I wanted to curl up in a ball to prevent the chilling air from getting to me. I didn’t hadn’t slept well but because I had 9-10 hours of tossing and turning time, I felt rested. All in all I felt pretty good… which I took to be a positive sign.

We awakened to the same ritual as the evening before Regnad,  our friendly waiter, knocked on our tent, greeting us with a big smile as he squatted down to prepare our morning tea (black tea, sugar, and milk powder) the warmth of which was comforting and energizing. Teatime was followed by a hot water bath, then a quick change of clothes and packing our beds back into the 30kg dry bags that the porters would carry atop their head to the next camp (I admired the strength, agility, and friendliness of these guys).

We regrouped with our small hiking family in the food tent and enjoyed some fried eggs, fruit, millet porridge and meat sausages that (thanks to Jen’s taste buds) would be refereed to as eyeball sausages for the rest of the week and become the catalyst for jokes and laughter.

Back on the trail, the hike was long but pleasant. My body was adjusting to the weight on my back and my feet cooperating with continuous movement they were being asked to perform. Day 2 would take us to 12,480 feet to Shira Camp bringing us deeper into the moorland climate where there’s visibly less greenery and hints of the desert climate that awaited us.

Hiding out in a cave to eat lunch

It was here that I caught my first glimpse of Kiliminjaro in all its might (and fright) towering behind our camp miles high and covered with snow. When we arrived at camp that afternoon Kili was hiding behind clouds, it wasn’t until I stepped out of my tent for a nature break in the middle of the night that I looked up at first mesmerized by the millions of stars covering the dark sky, I then gazed over to my right and nearly stopped what I was doing (mid stream) at the sight of Kili. I felt the panic setting into my body but at the same time I couldn’t take my eyes of it. The mountain top looked magnificient and peaceful and then I thought “this is REALLY happening!” as if it wasn’t already happening.

Kiliminjaro in the camp background

I crawled back into my tent and laid in my sleeping bag, panic stricken and heart racing. “Mind over matter. Mind over matter. Mind over matter. “ I thought to myself as I practiced some deep breathing exercises and fell asleep.

dancing on day 2