Blog originally posted on the GLOBE Scientists' Blog: http://blog.globe.gov/sciblog/2012/10/04/xpedition-day-ten-mweka-camp-to-park-gate/
Monday, 1 October was the final day of The Xpedition. After an exciting summit day, the team continues on their descent and is picked up to head back to Arusha, where they will enjoy a well-deserved meal.
Throughout the entire journey, the team relied on the use of porters, who are local Tanzanians who carry equipment up the mountain. These porters are essential to a successful summit, and the bloggers were asked: What has your relationship been like with the local Tanzanians? Porters?
If you asked me the main reason I want to stay in Tanzania, it would be for the people. Porters are the hidden heroes of the mountain—nobody would be able to climb were it not for them. But they also go far beyond just transporting gear: they came to our tent each morning with hot chocolate and cookies to wake us up. They helped me put my gators on when my fingers were too cold. They sang and danced for us (with us once we got the hang of it!) at least twice a day as we left one camp in the morning and arrived at the next camp in the evening. They carried my daypack when I was not feeling well enough to climb with it. They monitored how well I was taking care of myself, was hydrating and staying energized. They said “Jambo!” or “Mambo vipi!” every time they passed us on the trail. They indulged our “how do you say ____ in Swahili?” questions with enthusiasm each time… sure sounds like a hero to me. I tried to take the time to get to know as many guides and porters as I could, and it sure paid off. They’re genuinely terrific people-- so warm and caring. I know I’ll miss them every day, and carry their values and demeanor with me for the rest of my life.
I cannot say enough about the porters and all of the support from our Tanzanian crew. In the beginning of the hike it was clear that these people knew their business and enjoyed what they do. They have a very good understanding of what the mountain is and about each biome along the way. We began to learn from them on day one, and the learning never stopped. As the trip continued, it was clear how much the entire team cared about their country and about making sure that we experienced the positive energy the Mt. Kilimanjaro and Tanzania have to offer. I am very happy to say that I have made some very close friends in Africa. I have the deepest respect for these people and the work that they have chosen. I also look forward to keeping lasting relationships with my new African friends. I will always remember and think about the lessons I have been taught about myself and the world.