A flight home is a great time to reflect on what has been. For the remaining passengers on KL 571 it is a great time to sleep. Not I. My love of a reflection, particularly my own, is well known. So the lights are out, the cabin is asleep except for me. My little iPhone screen the sole beam of light. For the first time this week not attracting flies. A reflection on KLM.
Thursday was a day of idleness. A day when we rested up. Only the Church of Scotland members of the contingent, to whom idleness is a sin, felt the need to do something, so they went to the village.
I lazed. Long John, our chief guide, patched up my feet, proudly wearing his Wobbly Resplendent Tartan kilt, which Brinsley presented him with last night.
I read all the blog comments and messages of support that flew around between the loved ones back home.
I looked at the press – coverage in The Sun, The Herald, The Scotsman and The Sunday Express. My favourite was the Herald, a picture of Gav, me and Boy Band Barry on page 3. There is a pair of tits joke in their somewhere. It eludes me at this moment.
I chatted with Ian about just how astonishing the whole thing was. Gavin described it as “one of the best weeks of my life”. Long John said “you have left footprints on my heart”. Genuine comments from genuine people.
We discussed with Long John about using Tony’s Klik2Learn online teaching product to deliver English lessons for school children in the Kilimanjaro area. We don’t want to be another group of fundraisers who come in, take advantage of what the Kilimanjaro National Park has to offer, and leave again. These people changed our lives, in some cases saved them.
The journey to the airport was sufficiently stressful to warrant a mention. A few of the party wanted to visit a “shop”. For “shop” think “mall”. Instead we visited a Volkswagen museum which was shut, and a rundown precinct in Moshi. As soon as the bus stopped hawkers were round us. Like flies around this blog. The driver reversed the first bus into the wall whilst trying to make our escape. Gavin hung out the window of the second shouting “tell John I’m going to f****** kill him”
The airport was an experience in haggling. Kat negotiated the purchase of a stool for Vicky for me. The stool wasn’t even for sale and she negotiated the price the shop keeper chose by over 50%. The girls will get a giraffe each (wooden) and a buff which have been to the roof of Africa.
The flight is uneventful. A few bullfrogs seem to have sneaked on board. We shall be back in Glasgow mid-morning to be reunited with our families and to have some Scottish comfort food and beers at Sloans.
So that is it. I hope you enjoyed these Kilimanjaro blogs as much as I have enjoyed writing them. It was a remarkable experience, reassuring that I will fight on, and, above all, rewarding in that so many people did something they would otherwise have not if it hadn’t been for my Parkinson’s
Thanks to the walkers…
Aimee – Left Scotland a girl, returns a woman. The world is your oyster.
Alan – his humour, zest and sex appeal are key to everything we do.
Chris Stewart – quiet, considered, caring and funny. An excellent Wobbly debut.
Karen McLernon – another great debut. Brought the first morning alive by breakfasting in a Celtic top. Ballsy.
Stuart – strong, determined and a truly great guy.
Rob – another new face. A lovely guy who’s amiable manner hid a determined core.
Brinsley – “quick with a joke, or a light up your smoke, but there’s someplace that he would rather be.” Everyone was glad you were there.
Bob – determined, funny, inspirational, supportive. Qualities you can’t buy.
Gavin – a Lion, a legend, a leader. Thanks isn’t enough.
Jennifer – a wonderful person, always smiling, chatting and singing. You light up a mountain from the second you arrive.
Eddie – oldest friend. A title you will hold forever.
Liz – my inspiration. You are truly amazing.
Chris Ryan – your devotion to Liz is humbling. You are a true gent.
Boy Band Barry – gel, aviator glasses and a Christmas jumper. You have no shame. You are a star ( CAUTION – only borrow his nailbrush if you are prepared to give it back clean)
David & Nikki – mentioned together because they had trials all week. Guess who led the way up the mountain. Genuinely lovely couple, I hope they are Wobblies forever.
Paul – another inspiration. As strong as ten Greeks.
Father Tony – you are staggering. Your finest 9 hours.
Scott – your knowledge of the trivial facts of this world is enviable.
John Bundy – grumpy old bastard.
Fi – beautiful bubbliness hides high heels of steel.
Chrissy – my darling sister, an honour to climb with you. You are brave and beautiful, and I love you with all my heart.
Kat – no 29. The last place was destined for you. We will write chapters about this journey.
Andrew – a truly funny, caring bloke. Delighted you came. You are a powerful man, you just don’t know it.
Katherine – quiet determination were the words I used to describe you when I gave out your certificate. That is the tip of the iceberg. You are wonderful
Matt – tent-mate! What can I say? Apart from thanks for helping me into bed, out of bed, tie my boots, pack my bag etc, etc. you are a lovely guy
Karen McCartney – thank you for walking with me on this journey. You are kind beyond words.
Ian – the photo says it all. .
Bryn – the jury is still out.
Bigger thanks to the Guides, chefs, porters and Long John.
Bigger still thanks to Davis for getting me off the mountain. I might still be up there, delirious, walking around in nothing but merino wool y-fronts.
Biggest thanks to friends and family for your support and donations. Thank you times 1,000,000.