Caren Ware's Blog

March 17, 2014

Up and into a world like no other

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 7:45 pm

Though we were rising over 10,000 feet the vegetation was full forested. We scaled step over step up a ridgeline. The trees finally became shorter and we passed through a ghost arrayed level of forest draped with moss. It had a Lord of the Rings surreal feel. The sun was showing through and the valleys were opening up far below. We got our first peak at the snow capped summit. SNAP. SNAP went all the cameras. Things change constantly on Kilimanjaro. Soon the wind was blowing and clouds were billowing across the valley and being sucked up to our height. We were shrouded in the clouds. And than the sky would open up again. The guides told us we were entering a new ecosystem. There were plants I had never seen. They rattled off their scientific name, lost on me. I will have to look them up for you. But there is a plant that never sheds its leaves. The leaves dry up and layer as an insulation to the root and the plant continues to live on the top of the leaf stem. Pretty good survival techniques.
Last night I had opened this little Gideon Bible that I ‘borrowed’ from the hotel. The GideonsIMG_4558

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IMG_4588 are a group of business men that wanted to read the Bible together. When they found that no one in their entire motel had a Bible they vowed to start a group that would leave a Bible in every drawer of every hotel, motel, hospital, and military station. So far that organization, over the years, has placed Bibles across the world. And lo and behold, even in Tanzanian. (PS.I was careful to put it back upon my return). One of the trekkers had Philippians 4:13 tattooed on his back. It made me read the entire book written by Paul, the one who originally persecuted, even put to death Christians, until he became one. Paul was a high official that gave his position up to travel and preach about salvation and get churches started. “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content. I know how to be abased and I know how to abound everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
The porters did not get fed the first day until camp was totally erected and our meals were made and served.

Camp night number one.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 5:10 pm

We finally made it to our first camp. I think we hiked 6 or 7 hours. It was on a rain forested hillside. Mamma Pinkie stood outside the tent for far too long. I finally got her inside. The porter’s had set the tents up and were already getting hot water for tea. But Mamma Pinkie sat in the tent, unmoving. Than I realized, she needed help. She was totally spent by the day in the rain. I put her pad out, got out her sleeping bag, told her the little tricks of living in a tent as I took off her wet socks and got her in dry clothes. I had spent four college summers living out of a sleeping bag and tent. I actually found a familiar zeal out of being in this tent. She finally started talking and said, “I have never camped. I don’t think I like this. I know I don’t like this.” But the fact that it was hard for her, and yet, she strongly did it is going to say a lot about what triumphs Kilimanjaro trekking can bring. I was already proud of her, and thankful for her pink spirited spirit. Even her walking sticks coordinated! You go girl!
The dinner served was fabulous and well welcomed…for camping. The stars popped out and our eyes shut…save mine. I had some dead end roads I had tried in the past year and the consequences were putting me at a start over level that felt too close to the bottom or endeavors. And the Malaria pills were making me feel funny. And the altitude pill I just took was making me have to pee twice a night. I never take anything so these medications were whirling in rebel in my system.

And the trek became beautiful.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 4:57 pm

The porters limberly passed us as the guides made us go, “pole, pole.” Slowly. Slowly. This was a formula they knew worked. It got our bodies used to a pace it would have to learn to hold in elevation and guaranteed our bodies and hearts time to acclimate. What a gift a chance to climb Kilmanjaro would be for all of us. IMG_4528

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IMG_4580 The porter’s laughed and jested and joked despite the loads. And we were treated to singing. Some had phones and battery radios that carried tunes up the trail. The first two days we would be in a rain forest. And rain it did. Drenching, get under the gortex and down the sleeves wet. The little pink petite spirit on our trip that the guides nicknamed, Mamma Pinkie, got really quiet and than she started to hike faster and faster. I nearly ran after her. I told her the guides wanted to slow us down. Her sad eyed response, “I just want to hike out of this rain.”

Earthly belongings

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 4:33 pm

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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.

The FACES of the Porter’s of Kilimanjaro

Filed under: A Runner's Story,fitness,hiking,Marathon Running,trail running,traveling — Caren Ware @ 10:24 am

I would rather you read the faces of the porter’s before we climbed the mountain than read my feeble words to describe them. These faces had no names. Just men lined up to do a job. Men hopeful they would not be cut because they did not have the required clothing or equipment. Men that knew what they were getting into. Men that knew they were about to go into a battle with physical demands. Men that knew this was their one way to be fed.
They were my Hispanic boys orphaned in Southern Mexico, who would run half the night collecting cows just to get a sip of milk and chunk of cheese. I was determined to get to know these faces. Trek with me and let these faces became names, and stories, and laughter and sharing. They will become people who have to do what they can do to eat, to bring something home. They have children, and wives, and elder parents. They have determination. They are strong. They, right now, have no other opportunity, but what Kilimanjaro treks bring. IMG_4479

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March 13, 2014

Finding way to base of Kilimanjaro

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 10:22 pm

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Picking up porters.

FINDING HOPE

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 10:10 pm

Amani Home for Street Children invited us to come see a safe place for kids to grow off the streets. It is one of many. many organizations founded to help. By giving meals, a self locker, a bed, a place to wash their clothes, an enclosed playground, and schooling, these kids have a chance. The hope is to get them back into a home by finding and helping a relative. There’s laughter and personalities. The kids were proud to show us their “home. Impressed that a local Tanzanian started with just 6 kids and now has a beautiful enclosed compound for lots of kids. They run solely off of donations. The funds go directly to the home and children. Check them out online. http://www.amanikids.or IMG_4433

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This is our trek group.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 10:23 am

The cool part of teaming up with a formed excursion that Kathy Loper Events offers is the people. You are guaranteed to meet people that will become comrades and life friends because of the days, experience, and pull you give each other. Kathy’s group made SURE they stayed to the very last one of the runner’s came in the marathon. This same group would do the same up Kilimanaro, helping, joking, prodding each other up a mountain. And we were to discover the climb down was as tedious and demanding as the step over step up. There’s Melinda.IMG_4873

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Never without a smile, followed by a giggle, than a punch line joke. She came to Kilimanjaro a year ago to trek the mountain with Kathy’s group. She found out there was a fellow Tulsa, Oklahoman that opened a home that would be self sustaining and meet the needs of a lot of children. She applied and a few months later is an “American” in Tanzania as the administrative manager. If something was hard, she would soon find a way to make it funny. There’s Ryan, a handsome 24 year old with soft powder blue eyes and a quiet strength. There’s Gordy, who had trekked the mountain tens years prior and was willing to film. His clothing, equipment, and demeanor spoke for his experience in kinds of outdoor travel and he definitely photographed the part of Safari pro and an avid hiker. There’s Sherry and Sebastian, from Portland, Oregon who were so consistent with their attitude to make it and willing to share their thought out supplies. And there was Judy, a petite ball of fashion and determination. The guides named her , “Mama Pinkie”…and it was “Mamma Pinkie” that gave us experience on the mountain. Her tears of joy and exhaustion were real and what we all felt and shared it. She was fearful of having to climb some rocks, being drenched in down pours, sleeping in a tent…but not AFRAID. She was to all of us the feel for what the trek was about.

FINDING PEOPLE

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 8:45 am

We stopped at an art museum with beautiful Tanzanite jewelry. The restrooms were in the back and I found this gate open. I discovered these girls making lunch for the work staff. I never saw the art gallery, but found just sitting with them sharing cultures as they giggled at their attempts at English was a gallery in itself.IMG_4363

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