Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate(8/2)
I woke up around 7:00 am and was hungry. I had a big breakfast to make up for not eating much yesterday. After packing up, the porter staff and climbers all gathered. We then presented our tips and thanks for all of their hard work. Generally each person kicked in $150. The lead guide is responsible for distributing the tips. The porters were incredible. They earned every penny. Some members of the team also gave gear to porters who helped them.
Once we said our good-byes, we headed down the trail to the Mweka Gate and back to civilization. It was a 3 hour hike down through the rain forest. We saw all kinds of cool flowers and trees. The trail was much better today. Not nearly as many rocks and step downs to navigate. I had a fun hike down with Nancy and Mynan. Allen joined us on part of the hike. Towards the end of the hike it started raining. We broke out our rain jackets. It was a nice rain.
At Mweka Gate we signed out. For once I wasn't the last person to come in. So we got to hang out for a while. I enjoyed another refreshing Fanta Orange drink. There was a guy set up in a covered area selling t-shirts, carvings, etc. I bought a cool map of Kilimanjaro from him.
We also got cool certificates for making the summit. See below for a picture of mine.
Our trucks were waiting for us. We loaded our gear and headed back to the Mountain Village. It was a 90 minute ride. Everyone was ready to scrape off the layers of dirt in a nice hot shower. This was to be followed by a nice cold Kilimanjaro beer.
On the drive off the mountain we passed many vendors selling items. We would periodically have to stop and wait for other cars/trucks to navigate portions of the dirt road. At one stop, Jason became interested in a Masai spear a guy was selling. Originally the guy wanted $30 dollars. Jason told him it was too expensive. He dropped the price down to $20. Then Jason asked him if he had change for a $50. The guy did not understand him and thought he wanted to buy the spear for $15. Then our truck moved. The guy started running behind our truck. We stopped again. Jason kept asking him if he had change for a $50. The guy still confused dropped his price down to $10. Jason then asked us if we had $10. We said no. So he kept trying to ask the guy if he could change a $50 bill. We started moving again. The guy came after us. We kept asking Jason to tell him no, but he wouldn't. Finally the truck moved on and left the guy behind.
We got back to the Mountain Village and got our bags from storage and our room keys. My room was way in the back and had only one bed. Jamie and I had become good friends, but I wasn't going to share a bed. We went back to the front desk and they explained our room wasn't ready yet, so we could use this room to shower and they would move our bags later.
That was the best shower I ever had. The water was hot and the pressure was decent. Initially it looked like a river of dirt was flowing off my body. My nails were encrusted with dirt. I worked on them for a while and made a little progress in extracting the dirt.. I felt very refreshed after the shower. I got dressed and headed to the bar. I had a safari burger. It had a funky taste. I assume it was made of cow meat but I wasn't sure. The fries were good. The beer was great.
We were going into Arusha for dinner to celebrate our success. We were going to an Indian Restaurant. Allen had not eaten at it before, but had several recommendations. The one he used to take everyone, had gone out of business. Bushbuck brought by a big bus to take us to the restaurant. So off to downtown Arusha. We pull up the restaurant. It's name is Big Bite. The restaurant was small, but comfortable. They had a big table set up for us. They had great nan bread. I had Chicken Tika Masala. It was very good.
After diner we headed back to the Mountain Village and had a few more drinks. Then I went to bed. We had to get up fairly early tomorrow. No sleep in days for us.