Saturday, September 18, 2010
On every holiday I look forward to doing some thing(s) for the first time. This vacation began with one of them when I boarded an Ethiopian Airlines flight. (My childish fascination for novelty aside, apart from the totally unintelligible flight announcements, the experience was like on any other airline.) My flight took me from Bangalore through Mumbai, Addis Ababa, and Nairobi before finally spitting me out at Kilimanjaro airport, a cozy one-runway setup just outside the town of Moshi, Tanzania. There was a sense of bonhomie in the plane on the last leg of the journey because everyone left in the flight was there to do the same thing, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. The pilot informed us when we flew next to the mountain, but on that particular day Kili was in hiding and you could tell the pilot wasn't lying only from an enormous bump in the cloud cover.
Kilimanjaro dominates everything in this part of the country, not just the landscape. You get Kili-branded stickers, t-shirts, caps, beers and what not. There's even, and I'm not making this up, a CD titled the top 10 songs on the Kilimanjaro!.
We checked in at a hotel called the Uhuru hostel. Uhuru is the name of the highest point on Mt. Kilimanjaro. See what I told you about everything having the Kili flavour? I had dinner with an English couple and hit the sack early full of anticipation for the following day.