The Bitch on the Top of Africa

Even back in the campsite I knew they were trouble. Yelling at the top of your lungs at midnight, when a large part of the campsite is sleeping, is not cool. But this group was going to climb Kilimanjaro and the whole world was going to know about it.

At five o’clock a snowstorm hit Barafu Camp, where we were staying. Hard and cold winds blew in my face. My Camelback exploded, drenching my bag and everything inside it. We planned on climbing to the summit in a few hours and after a week of good weather and working equipment, everything was looking bad.

I woke up a few minutes before 12 to the sound of fifty people yelling about how strong they are and beginning their ascent. I shoved all of my wet things into a dry bag and put on every layer of clothing I had. Again. I did everything very quickly and then waited for forty minutes, because “this is Africa.” Then we started to climb.

It was a steep and rocky slope; for every step up you slid half a step down. Ahead of us was the yelling group. I figured I might as well be with them and not against them, so I joined their singing a few times. But they continued. And continued. And continued.

When it’s way below zero and way past your bedtime and you’re going way higher than humans are supposed to go, you’re not really happy. You just sing to convince yourself that you are. But they were singing as if they really were happy. And that annoyed me.

Worse than that though, was their pace. They acted as if they owned the mountain. The wind was smashing my face and I yelled, “Hey! Can you guys maybe stop on the side of the trail and not in the middle of it?” There are people whose fingers are falling off here!” One woman answered “no”. It took a minute to register, but once it did, I spent the rest of the climb cursing her existence under my breath.

Had it been a short walk up I wouldn’t have minded. But we had seven hours to deal with this crap. Whispering curse words would not suffice. But unfortunately, I hadn’t brought the Leatherman and Dad had decided to leave the pocketknife in the tent. My only option was to throw them off a cliff, which  seemed like quite a fine option, given the circumstances.

I looked behind me and saw a faint streak of light spreading in the night sky. Oh great. We were going to miss the sunrise. I conveyed my worries to Raj, our guide, and he hurried up to overtake the group. Clearly, this should have been discussed with the other members of our group (aka my very very mad Dad). We overtook them, but my father was about to have a heart attack or strangle me.”Sorry,” I said, looking back and hating the orange light that was filling up more of the sky, “but… we’re going to miss the sunrise!” His glare convinced me that it was perfectly fine that we wouldn’t see the sunrise.

After the climb, people marveled at how “strong” I was and how well I did on the climb. Honestly, I was hardly aware of my surroundings (except wondering, of course how I would survive a life without fingers). Focusing on how much you hate someone is a good way to overcome hardship.

The view and the pride from 5895 meters, however, took most of the animosity out of my system, however.

After the climb I saw a T-shirt of their group. I asked the wearer what the organization was, fearing it would be some incredible philanthropy that saved needy children. He looked at me with a scowl and said,”a company”. I knew I hated them.

Afterward, guess who we saw in the safari? Guess who sat at the table next to us, Ten East Europeans silent and drinking? Guess who had the same exact itinerary as we did? Guess who woke us up at 5:30 in the morning because now they were happy? My sole revenge was eating one of their Polish fudge candies, which they had given to another tourist who later gave it to me. I’ll have to think of something better.

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4 thoughts on “The Bitch on the Top of Africa

  1. Oohh god those loud American a-holes. Luckily we had some more sleep when they were gone, before we started our hike up around 7am. It was a pleasure to have met you and your dad those 8 days along the Lemosho trail. Have more fun in Africa and keep up the great blog.

    Cheers, Fons (one of the Dutch guys).

      • Are you in Dar right now? A good day trip is Mbudya Island, which is accessible via a ferry from the White Sands Hotel. I think the beaches are nicer than in Zanzibar. You should also check out Kariakoo and walk around downtown (although I think you may have already done that if you saw the fish market?).

        Some great restaurants are: Khana Khazana (Indian), Rohobot (Ethiopian), and Mamboz (BBQ Tanzanian). You should check them out.

        Rwanda is amazing. I haven’t been to Uganda yet, but I am done my internship at the end of March and then spending a few months traveling. Uganda is first on my list 🙂

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