Bryn :: Mawenzi

Written in bed at 7am on Wednesday, the day before the trek begins. Everything is perfect.

The door of the plane opened and, when it was my turn, I emerged into the African night. I wanted to pause, look around and smell. I was nearly blown of my feet. The wind was wild, it was like Hurricane Baw Bag all over again, a little bit of Scotland had come to Africa.

I had wanted to smell the air because Wilbur Smith writes about Africa having a smell. Being someone with no sense of smell I was hoping that the pungent African whiff would reinvigorate my nostrils.

We spent an hour getting through immigration, Tony got charged $50 more than anyone else because he had an Irish not British passport. He was so angry I thought he was going to get his guitar out and sing the man a song. Everyone panicked. How would an immigration officer react to being serenaded by a Ballymena boy with blonde highlights. I could hear the clunk of doors being locked and the clink of keys being thrown away. Sense prevailed and Tony paid up. A money making exercise. The only mishap was Nikki Ryan losing her rucksack in transit. I have donated a pair of my Merino wool boxer shorts to get her by. She is a petite lady, she can wear them as a onesy.

We were met by John and Joshua, our guide and driver, proudly sporting TryAthletes shirts. They bussed us in a proper bus – bags strapped to the roof, rolling suspension and seats covered with brown furry fabric and held together with vinyl piping, and filled with an abundance of soft springs, all pointing in different directions, all vying to be the first to burst out (if Burns had been African he would of immortalised Tanzanian bus seats gushing their entrails rather than a haggis. Ode to a Single Decker).

The bus journey lasted about ninety minutes, passing through villages and towns, I was surprised at how modern and well maintained everything was. I expected dust and potholes.

When we were between settlements the full moon lit up the landscape. There were hills clearly visible to our left. And behind them the faint outline of a mountain. A shadow looming on the horizon.


We swung off the pristine highway into Kilimanjaro National Park. They clearly don’t invest the park fees on road maintenance. Every spring on my seat was tested to the limit. I got my dust and potholes. We bounced, swayed and tipped for 20 minutes and then arrived at an oasis. The colonial Kilimanjaro Mountain Resort. Big Al was already there, he had supplied the TryAthletes shirts and the staff looked magnificent in pink.

Beers, banter and bonding – the essential features of a Wobbly walk lasted until after 2am. Matt and I retired to our room, unpacked our stuff and poked around. Behind a curtain was a door. Behind the door was a balcony. Beyond the balcony stood a mountain. It was beautiful. It was enormous. And it wasn’t Kilimanjaro. It was Mawenzi, the much smaller peak on Kilimanjaro.

Looking at Mawenzi, the words John Bundy said to me when I told him I had Parkinson’s came into my head. His reaction to the news that I had my own personal mountain to climb.

“Oh shit”

5 thoughts on “Bryn :: Mawenzi

  1. Welcome to Africa!! How exciting it must be … Sailonline will be running a practice race tonight and already folks are making donations.. I am telling them, if possible, to reference Sailonline so you guys will know we are 100% with you. As I crept down to the post office earlier today and wobbled back I giggled to myself at how un-athletic a wannabe TryAthlete I am!! Hope the SOL baseball caps made it!

    Thanks for the writing… I will be finding you on Google Earth (well your location) and if we’ve judged the boat right, our race will most definitely keep you in sight!! ‘Tis a first for us.. virtually sailing a trek!

    Best of luck.. sleep well tonight … I am off to google Merino underwear hehehe


  2. Bryn, Enjoying your blog very much. Our thoughts will be with you over the next few days willing you onwards and upwards. Give our best wishes to all in your party – particularly the ones I know from walking and parties – especially the Ballymena Cowboy with his $50 passport.

    Had a look at the sailing race but can’t get my head around it. Gareth similarly foxed. Will have another go this evening.

    Dad & Joan

  3. Bryn
    It’s great what you are doing and we are thinking of you all. I will be following your blogs and hope my Dad remains in tact!

    Although I can imagine it will be hard work, I hope you all enjoy yourselves. We wish you All the luck in the world.

    Take care

    Ann & Emma

    P.S – Tell Dad I will get Robert to post the Spurs results on here!!!

  4. Bryn Entered sail race. Still confused. Asked for user name – gave Janda expecting to be asked for boat name. Intended to use WobbleOn or some such but boat is janda with no way of changing – or of scratching.


  5. Bryn, Good luck to you and the team I will be following from here in the States and Sailonline as I am in the Kili race ( I don’t share Joanne’s curiosity about Merino skivvies but accept they exist and are worn by Scotsmen)

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