Day 6 - Shira Plateau

Friday, August 24, 2001
Shira Plateau West Side
Elevation: 11,500 feet
Number of digital music pieces Larry accidentally deleted from Andy's MP3 player: 2
Pounds of dirt lodged in my nostrils: 4

At daybreak, our porters brought us warm water for washing along with mugs of sweet hot chocolate. We learned that "a sahntay sana" meant "thank you" and "karibu sana" meant "you're welcome."

Morning Tea (photo courtesy of Andy Katz)

After breakfast, we dressed, applied three layers of sunscreen (anyone who knows Helene will know why we did this) and hit the trail.

We left the forest and made our way into the Heather Zone. It was a nice change to see the big sky and the distant vistas since we left the canopy of trees and vines. We walked through a canyon that had recently endured a fire. Our guide told us that some poachers had deliberately set the fire to create smoke that would drive the bees from their hives, thus enabling the poachers to have access to the fresh honey. Later in the week, I remembered this story when the cooks served us some honey and Andy asked if the four dead bees that were in the jar were supposed to be there.

Mt. Meru from the heather zone (photo courtesy of Andy Katz)

Lunch at 10,000 feet was another amazing affair. We met up with some British trekkers outfitted by a group called "Tanganyika Film (?)." Our outfitters and equipment were clearly superior.

Lunch in the heather zone (photo courtesy of Peter Rosendorff)

We asked a guide where we were headed and he pointed up the steep hill toward the lone Pine Tree on the ridge. He said we would turn left at the Pine Tree and stay on the ridge for a while and then drop down to the Shira Plateau. I put on my headphones and listened to music on my MP3 player while I hiked. The song I played most frequently was Rolling Stones" "Angie:"

Angie/ Ah-ee-ehn-gie/ Ain't it good to be alive.

A portion of the trail was squishy and muddy and was home to some cool plants. The base of the plants looked like a cylindrical ceramic planter about two feet tall and the top of the plant was like a miniature palm tree.

I arrived in camp around 3:15 p.m. and, took inventory of how much filth I had collected on my face, in my nails, eyebrows, hair, neck and everywhere. All of that even though I wore a ridiculous-looking head, face and neck covering while I was hiking. There was filth upon the filth. Somehow it even made it's way through my layers of clothing. I can't remember ever being so squalid.

Frank, Larry and Rick at the Shira Plateau camp

I started washing myself with the tubs of warm water that the porters brought, but there was no end to the grime. My nose was packed solid with dirt. Good thing Helene suggested that we bring some saline spray for our noses. I sprayed about two gallons of that stuff up my nose to loosen the dirt clods so I could blow them out. I think I won the award for the person who blew her nose the most on the trip.

Just before dinner, the clouds cleared and revealed Kili in all her glory. We had our first view of the Western Breach wall that we were to climb to reach the crater. We all were very excited.

Helene said, "It's time," so I brought out my candles and matches, Andy snaked some bread from the dinner table, Peter poured some Gatorade and Larry set up the video camera and we made kiddush at the base of Kili. Frank took photographs of us and dubbed us "Jews on "Jaro."

 Shabbat on Shira

Polly felt nauseous and had a headache so I offered to give her a Tigan suppository. I asked her if she knew what to do with it and she said, "Not really," so I told her. She said, "In my backside? How disgusting!" But she felt sick enough to go ahead with it and later she told me that when she went to the toilet and was trying to insert the suppository, she dropped it in the dirt. She said that when she tried to wipe the dirt off of it, it broke, but she inserted the remaining piece nonetheless and within half an hour she felt better.

Andy's stomachache continued to bother him and he started having, as Frank so delicately put it, "the trots." Dick also had "the trots." Andy started a course of Cipro and Dick started using the Tigan suppositories. Peter and Frank began suffering from allergies, so they came to the dispensary for Claritin.

Manasi and Kapanya in the kitchen tent (photo courtesy of Andy Katz)

Helene and I felt like a million bucks. After taxes. O.K., O.K., I confess. The altitude affected me a little bit. I accidentally put my nasal saline spray in my eye thinking it was my eye drops.

The Shira Plateau (photo courtesy of Peter Rosendorff)

In the middle of the night, Helene had a nightmare having to do with a small child swallowing a balloon and choking. She let out the cutest little shriek, which woke me up. I said, "Helene? Are you alright?" But she was stuck in the dream trying to save the child.