Day 3 - Arriving in Tanzania

Tuesday, August 21, 2001
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Elevation: -10 feet
Barometric Pressure: 30
Number of Ambiens we ingested: 6

We met for breakfast in the Schiphol Airport Hilton lobby and started talking about our trekking equipment. We all got a big laugh when Peter told us that when he was packing, he was worried about not having enough underwear and he said, "Gosh darn, I need more wicking underwear."
In the shuttle to the airport, everyone checked their various devices to synchronize elevation, global positioning and barometric pressure. Peter said, "I've got 30 inches." I didn't let him live down that comment for the rest of the trip.

Some of us started our course of Diamox. Ken suggested that I take a loading dose of 250 mg. three times a day for two days before we started walking and then drop down to 125 mg. twice a day thereafter till we summited. Helene went along with that. The others all had their own ideas for how to proceed with the dosage varying from no loading dose at all to only a loading dose.
Peter and I spent some time doing yoga stretches while we waited to board our plane.


Marcee and Peter doing yoga in the airport (photo courtesy of Andy Katz)

We boarded our KLM flight to Arusha, Tanzania and we overheard a dispute between a passenger and a crewmember. It turns out that the passenger was being deported to Africa and was not happy about it. In the end, the crew removed the passenger from the plane. The captain apologized that we (the other passengers) had to witness the sight and then assured us that the crew would treat the rest of us quite nicely.

I read Michael Crichton's account of his attempt to climb Kili. He only made it to Gilman's point and his feet were numb and blistered and bloody. He was terribly unprepared for the trip. Shame on you Michael!


Kilimanjaro Airport, Tanzania
Elevation: 2,000 feet
Number of us who thought the on-board movie "The Mexican" was a bomb: 4

Marcee and Helene waiting for our shuttle at the Kilimanjaro Airport

We arrived in the Kilimanjaro Airport and passed through immigration. Larry and Peter were questioned at customs and then released. Our Mountain Madness guides Kapanya Kitaba and Sekeyan Godson greeted us. Kapanya thought Helene and I were twins because we both had our hair in cornrows. We met another member of our group, Dick Merriam, and we were waiting for Polly Howard, but it turns out that she missed the flight, so we headed to Oldonyorok Lodge without her. While we were driving to the lodge, we saw a hyena in the road.

We asked Kapanya what the best time of year was to climb Kili and he said, "This time of year." I replied, "I thought January and February were warmer and dryer." He responded, "It IS warmer and dryer then, but it is SO hot that if you were trekking then, you"d be panting like an African Hunting Dog."


Oldonyorok Lodge, Tanzania
Elevation: 4,500 feet
Amount of time spent trying to charge
batteries: 12 hours

The lodge was charming and it was a perfectly clear starry night. Helene and I squeezed each other and screamed because we were so excited. Inside there was a main room, about 30 feet by 30 feet, with a central fireplace and built-in, cushioned benches. Above was a loft with overstuffed chairs and couches and a ceiling made of banana leaves. On the wall hung a skin of a Baobob tree. Underneath the loft was a cozy dining room. It was close to 11:00 p.m. when we arrived, but the lodge staff had prepared a huge meal of leek soup, salad, green beans, zucchini, bread, chicken, potatoes, safari lager, and chocolate pudding. Kapanya forced us to eat.

We met the other trekkers: from Boston, Deirdre Ryan, a veterinarian (nickname "Boston"), and her husband Morgan Ley, an investment banker (nickname "Dude"); from Seattle, Frank Olding, general counsel for Mountain Madness (nicknames "Seattle," and "Moonstone") and his new bride Teresa Olding a Starbucks executive (nicknames "Moonstone," "Seattle," and "Francophile"); and from Jackson, Wyoming, Bob Emrick, a septuagenarian in the real estate industry who summited Mt. Elbrus a week earlier (nickname "Ba-bu Jackson".)

Dinner at Oldonyorok