Sunday, January 13, 2008

Gear and now

Also posted at The Kilimanjaro Blog

Mountain of caravans, mountain of greatness, shining mountain - no one quite agrees on the real interpretation of 'Kilimanjaro'. But among the multiple meanings ascribed to it, my personal favourite is 'little white hill'.

Little, indeed.

But Kilimanjaro may well turn out to be a molehill as compared to the bigger problem I'm facing now - gear shopping. There are hardly any outdoor outfitters in Dubai, and the only two I've found - Columbia and Timberland - seem woefully inadequate.

Sample conversation:

Me: Do you have fleece jackets?

Salesman: Yes, ma'am. Right here... (points to a row of sleeveless jackets)

Me: Don't you have jackets with sleeves??

Salesman: Ok, look in the children's section. You might get your size.

If he didn't get advanced hypothermia from the look I gave him, I would be very surprised.

It doesn't get easier when it comes to shopping for the right pair of boots. "Walk down a ramp to check that your toes don't get crushed," suggested Alpha.

Not only were there no ramps in the store I went to, but even options were hard to come by. One pair of tenacious leather boots which would've shredded any toe that fell under it, and one pair of boots with Gore-tex fabric, which didn't inspire much confidence.

All's not lost though. It turns out there's a store right down my street which stocks ski gear at almost throwaway prices. I've never understood their business model, but I'm not complaining right now. I've managed to get a few pairs of gloves and socks, and a fleece jacket or two.

My final resort is to order gear from Alpha's friendly neighbourhood REI and get/request /implore/beseech Alpha to lug it to Nairobi.

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