A mountain of issues but no baggage
HOLIDAY DISASTERS:A well-planned trip to Mount Kilimanjaro turns sour when my luggage fails to arrive in Nairobi, writes MEADHBH MCHUGH
I AM NOT usually an organised packer. In fact, I’m ridiculously disorganised, usually packing with mere hours to departure. I ignore the advice of experts to forward-plan, although I have taken their tip on “rolling” clothes, which is far easier than folding.
However, for a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro in 2010, I discover a new side to my packing psyche. Faced with the size of the task, I suddenly embody organisation. I am a walking to-do list, an Excel document of items checked once and twice again; I am a dozen photocopies of my passport.
I decide that I will never make it to Uhuru Peak unless everything is perfect. Weeks of planning ensue; I look so far forward I could give Psychic Wayne a run for his money.
I purchase various pairs of specialist socks with a range of aerodynamic features that will allow my feet to be perfectly aired, heated, protected and padded at every stage of the trek, from jungle to snowy peak. I then arrange the socks in order of temperature so that there will be no confusion on the mountain. I cannot risk accidentally wearing my below-freezing, tough-terrain socks on day one in the humid rainforest.
Sweets are also a major consideration. My sugar levels are crucial to summiting success. I awake from nightmares of a scene where – hours from the top – I run out of Mars bars. On the day of departure, my friend Georgie, our group leader, is in Dublin Airport sorting out visas and missing passports. I am in a supermarket furiously texting her about the sweets. What type? How many? I empty the shop of Mars bars.
We arrive in Nairobi airport. Spirits are high. We get through immigration. Then we head to baggage pick-up, a small area with a creaky conveyor belt. I don’t know if it actually creaked, but in this memory it does. It goes round. And round. It goes round again. It’s been 10 minutes since the last rucksack bulged on to the belt. Mine’s not there.
It transpires that my bag, along with two others, is still in London. My carefully selected layers of mountain gear are neatly rolled in the UK. My extensive selection of plasters is hanging out in Heathrow.
I barely suppress the rising panic. We have to leave on the eight-hour bus journey to Moshi, Tanzania, to arrive before dark. I try to express the urgency of getting the bags back, miming trekking moves to amused officials.