“Hiking” or, normal life
Our village is only a few hours hike away from the highest point in the South Pare Mountains, Shengena Peak. “Hiking” isn’t really a concept here in the mountains – for example a friend of ours from the village went to the states a few years ago, and his hosts there wanted to take him hiking; his words: “They said we go hiking. So we go walking. They said, ‘this is good,’ I told them this is my normal life.”
Here are some pictures from a recent trip up the mountain with some kids from the vil and our indefatigable guide, John. Myself and John (pictured wearing a funny hat/beanie thing and/or talking on his cell phone) were the only two from the group who had previously climbed to the peak. The morning of, Luka (camo shirt) was so excited to go; he explained to me several times that the air in the village is dirty because of the dusty road, but up there it will be so good! “Tutapata hewa nzuuuuuuuuuri!” – translation – “we will get gooooooooood air!” Upon returning, once again (as it was the first time I went) no one believed that I was able to make it all the way to the top. But this time I had pictures to prove it! Unfortunately, both times I have been to Shengena it has been cloudy, so I will have to climb again another day when it is clear to get some expansive views and possibly that elusive far off view of Kilimanjaro that I’ve been promised by my friends in the village.
Finally at the top, the sign was placed by (what I think) was a UNDP cultural tourism project. Zawadi mdogo and Luka.
According to local tradition, Shengena Peak was a place where the Pare people would worship their gods by performing rituals and leaving an offering of some kind, in recent years that offering was usually money (evidenced by a small box of outdated Tanzanian currency found under the tower). John explained to me that local people built this tower to aid in that ritual, but I have a sneaking suspicion this was part of a failed project related to cultural tourism.
Charlie showing off his fancy Kilimanjaro brand water