Let's get cracking!
10.03.2011 - 14.03.2011 31 °C
The night before I left, I was filled with apprehension and dread. I kept asking myself if I was ready. If I was prepared to rough it for the next few months. The emotional farewells hardly convinced me that I was doing the right thing as I choked back the tears.
But God knows what I was worrying about! So far, it's been incredible! After collecting my A-Level results and discovering I'll be studying at Sheffield Uni next year, my nerves relaxed considerably and as soon as we arrived at Heathrow, the apprehension had been replaced by excitement only rivalled by the feeling on Christmas Eve as a six year old.
The first people we bumped into were Alex, Jonny and Oli on their way to Thailand, embarking on a slightly different travel experience to ours! However, we weren't ready to rough it just yet... Our flight with Virgin had a free bar, awesome movies and the unexpected bonus of two free seats next to us where we could spread out to have a good night's sleep.
Or so I thought. At 1am, the screaming kid came. Actually, make that the screaming, kicking, whining, petulant little girl who thought it would be a good idea to kick me in the stomach just as I was falling asleep. The mother asked me to call for help from the air stewardess. Never mind an air stewardess, that kid needed a bloody straightjacket...
Ok, rant over. We arrived at Nairobi airport ready to hop into our organised airport pick-up. Which hadn't arrived. After a trip to a dodgy internet "cafe" and a few phonecalls, we were finally taken to Parkside Hotel in the centre of Nairobi to be greeted by Douglas, the hotel owner. He kindly took us for lunch and tried to convince us the meat and fish was refrigerated in the rickety wooden box next to the BBQ. After insisting we try the "fresh meat", Douglas was even kind enough to allow us to pay for his lunch - what great guy...
We rose early the next day to catch the shuttle bus to Moshi. The roads here seem to consist of a few miles of tarmac, followed by a stretch of uneven, dusty dirt track. So you can imagine the eight hour journey was a long slog. Add to this the fact that there don't seem to be many road rules in East Africa. Our bus driver was intent on overtaking at every opportunity, be it on blind corners or steep hills. And if there is a vehicle coming in the opposite direction, it turns into a brave contest of chicken, whereby neither driver swerves to avoid contact until the last second. At our first stop just before the Namanga border crossing, a Kenyan bloke asked if Stringer was Chinese, which was met with a hostile response by Bean!
After a brief changeover in Arusha (where we temporarily thought our bags had been left in Nairobi) the final leg of the journey took us on to Moshi. We dropped off some girls at International School Moshi, where Mum and Dad used to work, before the centre axle of the bus was precariously close to snapping after driving over a huge rock. Yet we still had to find our hostel, which didn't seem promising after many locals said they'd never heard of it. Our bus driver was a legend though, taking us directly to the hostel after fending off numerous dodgy taxi drivers. Hostel Foot Prince was basic, but clean and modest. There were a couple of Finnish, Norweigan and Spanish people respectively at the hostel, who had been volunteering with the street children for months, which kind of put our whistle-stop tour of East Africa to shame!
After deciding that arriving at Springlands Hotel a day earlier would be a good idea, we headed into town on the Dalla Dalla. They are ramshackle old vans, with tightly packed seats and even tighter packed passengers. When you think there can't be any more room, a passenger hops on and fits into the smallest of spaces available!
The children in Moshi ae so friendly! Despite many of the adults looking to scam you, the children all wave as they pass, shouting "Karibu" (which means hello / welcome) with a beaming smile etched on their faces.
Now, I know we're meant to be slumming it. BUT Springlands Hotel was a good shout. All credit must go to Stringer. I, being a stingy bastard, was happy to stay in the hostel for a day longer, whereas Stringer was obsessed with taking a dip in the pool. And Stringer certainly made the right decision. As soon as we dived into the pool, we were immediately cheered up even more. I'm sure our spirits will be slightly dampened when we pay for our extra night's stay, but in the words of Luke Gipson, "oh, it's a treat!".
We've spoken to a few guys here who've just climbed Kili, and they say there's a lotta rain up there, as it is the start of the rainy season. So fingers crossed that we don't get too drenched and we'll update y'all in a week's time!
Asante sana for reading!