Sitting on an aeroplane for eight or so hours is never the most exhilarating way of spending a day. However the plane was only half full so at least my travelling companion Ernest the bear had a seat to himself, a great deal better than the over head locker that he claims he usually finds himself stuffed in.
I am not a nervous flyer by any means, but the wording chosen by KLM, no doubt the result of extensive research into creating a welcoming and reassuring passenger experience, seemed to me a little ominous- "Life is a journey not a destination." What is one to make of this well used phrase some 30,000 feet above the ground.
I was having trouble with my impulse purchase at 4.40am in WHSmith " The Black Rose" so Michael, one of our intrepid group of five lent me his book to ease my boredom. Kilimanjaro the trekking guide to Africa's highest mountain. The third paragraph of the introduction left me with that feeling that many travellers have of having left something very important at home, in my case common sense.
I quote "Don't be fooled. Cyclists to skiers, heroes to half wits, bikers to boarders to backward walkers: its no wonder, given the sheer number of people who have climbed Kili over the past century, and the way in which they've done so, that so many people believe that climbing Kili is a doodle. And you'd be forgiven for thinking the same. You'd be forgiven - but you'd also be wrong"
The author concludes his opening paragraph with a small but fascinating detail of the number of people who climbed Kili on New Year's Eve during the millennium celebration with a couple of rather sobering statistics, 1000 people were on the slopes of this African giant, but over a 300 failed to reach the summit, 33 had to be rescued and 3 died.
I called an air steward to ask for something to help relieve me of this sobering reality and as I sipped in my Heineken beer I wondered again at the reality of this journey.