Before we left, Gerald was interviewed during the live broadcast of his own program "Power Breakfast" on Clouds FM. The broadcast had the effect of making everyone and anyone who was listening to the radio to be aware of our presence. By the day's end, that included a large proportion of the porters and guides on the mountain and some of the other climbers.
We left Barranco Camp at our leisurely pace and within an hour we were trailing everyone. Nevertheless, I am impressed by how both Notburga and Gerald make mincemeat of the Great Barranco, maintaining an energetic pace throughout the day. It is at the Barranco climb where most first-time climbers give up and turn back, and where novice porters opt for non-climbing careers. It is one steep rocky climb that takes close to three hours, depending on one's pace.
At the top of the cliff, Notburga revealed she has eight cans of Red Bull, took out four and shared them with Gerald, Yahoo and Ben, the assistant guide. I still felt I didn't need an energy boost.
At around midday we met a group of British and American climbers, who were also on a fund raising climb, and one asked:
"Are you from South Africa?"
"No, we are Tanzanians."
"It's good to see Tanzanians climbing their own mountain."
That casual observation was so incredibly accurate that it actually defines one major characteristic of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Apart form the porters and guides, at any one time there are more foreigners on the mountain than Tanzanian climbers.
At Karanga Camp Gerald, who was complaining of a bruised toe since yesterday, received crucial medical attention from Godfried, an Austrian doctor who is climbing the mountain with a group of glaciologists who are studying the mountain's shrinking glaciers.
I reached the conclusion that if there is one person who deserves to reach Uhuru Peak, it has to be Notburga. During the daily walks she recounts colorful tales of places around the world that she has visited - and they are numerous! As she says, she decided to climb Kilimanjaro because while in Ireland she met natives of Ireland who had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and she was embarrassed to reveal that she had not.
When I visited one of the VIP (Ventilated Improved Pit) latrines, I discovered someone had written, "Will you please p*** directly in the hole."
- at 3,893m above sea level?
- with hands half frozen?
- while gasping for breath and struggling against altitude sickness?
- and having woken up from sleeping on a slope and struggling throughout the night not to slide donwnhill below the clouds, and all the way to Moshi?
I don't know...I don't know...
Next: Am I made of Coca-Cola or whisky?