Caren Ware's Blog

March 17, 2014

Weight of the World on their Shoulders

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 1:57 pm

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IMG_4510At the base of Kilimangaro we lay out our gear and the guides lay out all the equipment and tents. Our gear is to not to weigh any more than 11 to 12 kil or 20 to 25 pounds. The porters will be carrying another 25 pounds in gear. We are to carry 3 liters of water, cameras, outer wear, and snacks. Surprisingl, that comes to about 20 to 25 pounds. But our packs have hip belts. And the water will be drank. The porters will carry over 50 pounds on their shoulders and heads.
We are at the Umbwe route. I think I heard there are six routes up the mountain. This is the least, least traveled and considered the hardest. The guides like it because they get to hike it lone. The other routes are overflowing with groups, porters, equipment, and bustle. We get to be the only party on this route. There are 3 guides: Joel, Epa, and Dawson. It will take 23 porters to get us up and down a mountain in 6 days.
A park ranger is checking proper gear for the porters. A porter must show that he has shoes, a jacket, a pack, a hat, and a blanket. Those who most need the job are the ones that DO NOT even have that. A man is turned away. There would be soles of boots and tennis shoes along the trail that fell off because the shoes were so worn. There would be porters with shoes way too big and way too small. There would be packs sewn and sewn and sewn again to keep together for just one more trek. All these meager belongings were shyly hidden and with their backs shielding their dire condition of things to us lounging in the Gazebo. The porters queued and had to show the Ranger, militant in green khakis ,their tattered cotton blankets, jackets worn thrown the elbows, and frayed woven hats. They didn’t even ask for socks or gloves. I saw only a few packs that even had hip belts. The porters will bring our gear and fetch water up to 15, 500 feet. Temperatures and wind chill can fall far, far below zero.
The porter’s t shirts had western pop artists or popular product slogans. All second hand. I saw a second hand kid’s twin bed blanket and it threw my mind back to a time when my son was three. My husband had tried a job in Colorado with a company stocking stores with ice cream. I had taken on a teaching contract and the months of both put us working in two states. These were the months the timing company was born in my heart and head. We needed a good income. We needed to raise our own family. And we needed to be together. My young son was acting torn apart, though our separation was financial not relational. So I scraped up money I did not have and went to a department store and bought my son a 101 Dalmatian’s Disney kid blanket that would travel with us between the two states so he felt like he had a consistent comfort. And I drove on my weekends off all the way to Colorado. The timing company developed into a business that would come to buy and furnish a house in Lake Arrowhead, a boat, cars, braces, private school, and travel. And it gave us the chance to be home during the week with our kid’s activities and the chance to work attached to the home. Painfully, and for a myriad of stupid reasons, that lucrative business beginning in 2009 got grabbed and nabbed; and the volume and pressure lead to poor choices, and fighting that was never there nor been since resolved, which lead to a divorce. I still have that 101 Dalmatian blanket clinging to protective times and great family memories in my storage unit. This one this man had probably came from a second hand barrel shipped to a church here in Moshi from a family whoseIMG_4486

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I watched this man get approved to go up Kilimanjaro. He stuffed his kid’s blanket that would not even wrap around his tall stature back into his pack sewn and patched and without a hip belt. Both situations in my heart swirled with an ache that cried past understanding.

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