We were all eager to get going this morning. I was wide awake at 5am, and shortly after, the rain started hammering down, but by breakfast at 7am it had thankfully stopped. The bags were weighed (some with a set of scales, others by the scientific method of “this feels light enough”) and there was a frantic bit of repacking by some who were over the regulation 15kgs. Packs of cereal bars were hastily distributed amongst those with lighter bags. I felt a little smug that mine came in at 13.5kgs, given all the medical equipment I had to carry! Then came a two-hour drive along typical African “roads” (bumpy dirt tracks), more bag weighing and registration at the checkpoint, and then a short drive to the starting point.
We set off at midday and the pace seemed agaonisingly slow, but after a couple of hours when we stopped for lunch, it had already become very natural. The afternoon became a little more challenging with some steep, muddy and slippery inclines, and those who were not used to walking struggled. By 4pm a mild headache had set in, although I had drunk 2 litres of water in the afternoon and 2 in the morning. I started feeling odd waves of nausea and a horrible dread seized me, but they seemed to be short-lived. Oddly, I seemed to be the only one suffering. It’s hard not to let such thoughts consume your every waking move. I decided to concentrate on the analogy someone had once told me about pretending to be an elephant squashing pieces of cardboard and stamping out negative thoughts. I know, it sounds weird, but it made sense, and what better place to pretend to be an elephant than in East Africa?
On arrival at the campsite we were served tea and popcorn in the mess tent and I started feeling much better. I made sure I drank 3 cups of tea and took plenty of water to bed that night. We were all in bed immediately after dinner, at 9pm, though none of us slept well. Terrified still by thoughts of altitude sickness, I drank a litre of water in the night and consequently had to get up to pee 4 times. You begin to wonder what the point of drinking at all is, when it seems to come straight back out again.