Our final breakfast was with Kathy and 'the good doctor' as I called P. Kay, another person we were happy to have met on this trip. Scrambled eggs and exhaustion. Talk that some day we will have the energy to be exhilarated about what we had just done.
The hike out was short and sweet. We left in small groups. The big group, and the big part of the trip was over. Bill and I went off with Kathy who was one of our group-mates that we had the most in common with. We took it slow, and only stopped briefly for a few photos. You know you are getting to the end when you see kids on the trail begging for chocolate or money. Handing out to the children is strongly discouraged as it promotes truancy and a behaviour that you would probably try to stop your own children from participating in.
We finally arrived at the station where you register for the last time. Your guide will let the station manager know who made it how far, and certificates are created for each person who made it to the rim or to the summit. We thought this was where we would be picked up, but alas we still had some hiking remaining due to the road being dug out so they could put in some type of duct work.
When we were collected in the range rover, the entire world gathered around the vehicle trying to sell us carved items and beaded bracelets. Just in case you brought money to shop with. Some people on the trip bought crafts at this point but we decided to wait until we got back into town and showered and departed on the 'shopping trip' that Moses promised us. Ironically on the way home we stopped on the side of the road for a reunited group member to run a (not so) quick errand, but at least I got a nice photo of a local set of shops (see above).
Not knowing where this actually goes on this site, I figured I would put a note here. In case you go on this trip, this is helpful information if you want to bring gifts home. We thought we would shop in the city in an open air market, but what the tours do (or at least A&K does is they bring you to a gated shop that has all sorts of items from Tanzenite to wooden carvings to batik. The place has very few items marked with a price. Most are marked with a code. That was our first problem.
Our second problem is that in case you have not guessed this already, we came from a different income bracket than some our fellow travelers. For some, it took years to save and plan, whereas others on the trip joined in spontaneously. You can still buy some smaller items. The prices are a little steeper, perhaps. Tiny wooden carvings at $5 each at this place are $2 at the airport to give you some reference. Still not too expensive, but there is a premium. Other items are hundres of dollars or more.
I bought a tiny carved animal for my aunt who teaches special ed at a parochial school so she could show the students something they could put their hands when they learn about the far away place called Tanzania. We also liked a painting (8x10) which was incredibly gorgeous, the color, the texture... but the guy who follows us around the shop said (after looking at the code) it was $180, which was fine except that was more money than we even had total between the two of us. After a while the price went down to $120 which was surprising since that was exactly what we had (can they x-ray our pockets?) minus about 5 Euros and a few fives in our luggage back at the hotel.
Unfortunately this shop was the only place we stopped and anything more to be purchased would have to be at the airport. So after some additional negotiating, we came to a happy, expensive ending, but who can put a price on original art that you fall in love with? We will never regret having one special souvenir. It sits on our dresser and is as beautiful as the day we bought it. I still love looking at it.