Drug Flagyl, The Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics are officially over, the winners have scurried home with their medals, and the losing athletes are either chastised, pitied or forgotten by most of the world. No laurel wreath, no glory, the Olympic equation goes.
Not on this blog, however.
In the same spirit of honoring athletic excellence that inspired the first Olympic Games, An American in Lima introduces the Ausangate Awards for High-Altitude Athletic Achievement.
Just as the Olympic Games are named after Greece's highest mountain, Mount Olympus (2, Drug Flagyl japan, 919 meters above sea level), the Ausangate Awards take as their namesake the tallest peak in the Cordillera Vilcanota, Mount Ausangate (6,384 meters / 20,945 feet above sea level), which towers over the south Peruvian Andes. The Andes are the second-highest mountain range in the world, after the Himalayas, Drug Flagyl.
The Gold Medal in High-Altitude Weightlifting goes to the porters of Cusco, Peru, who for hundreds of years have carried superhuman loads on their backs at altitudes of 4,000 to 5,000 meters and above. The Gold Medal is shared by the sherpas, high in the Himalayan mountain range.
These high-altitude dwellers possess remarkable physical strength, stamina and ability to withstand staggering extremes of altitude and temperature. These qualities distinguish the Cusco porters and the Nepalese sherpas as among the world's elite athletes.
Drug Flagyl, Despite their physical prowess and lifetimes of service, however, the porters and sherpas are largely unknown to the world at large. They live and die literally in the clouds, often in extreme poverty.
To understand their struggles is to realize the true meaning of "heroic" – a heroism that has nothing to do with million-dollar corporate sponsorships, winner-take-all competition, expensive doping cocktails and bloated nationalist sentiment. Drug Flagyl ebay,
Curious to learn more about these unsung heroes. Read on….
The people who live within sight of high mountain ranges such as the Vilcanota, the Cordillera Blanca and the Himalayas endure extremely difficult and hazardous conditions: extreme cold, blinding sunlight, and decreased oxygen (up to 50% less than that at sea level) in high altitudes, Drug Flagyl. Over thousands of years, the bodies of native mountain-dwellers have evolved various adaptation mechanisms to derive more oxygen from the air and to circulate oxygen more efficiently through the bloodstream. (Read this remarkable article in the 2/25/04 National Geographic about how mountain dwellers' bodies have adapted to their extreme environments.) People in the Andes and the Himalayas walk great distances each day, and develop strong muscles in their legs with which to navigate the rugged terrain. In many physical respects, they are superhuman.
Yet despite these physical adaptations, porters and sherpas often succumb to illness, disease and fatal accidents, Drug Flagyl uk.
The porters of Cusco (known as cargadors Drug Flagyl, in Spanish) perform a vital service for merchants and trekkers in the Andes region. Following pre-Columbian traditions, today's porters traverse on foot throughout the cities and mountains of the Andes region, carrying up to 240 pounds on their back. Porters typically work 14- to 16-hour days and traverse 20 to 30 miles daily across the abrupt geography of the Andes.
Porters are hired to carry a variety of items. Some are paid by farmers to carry their produce (potatoes, corn, wool) and animals to market. Others haul mattresses, refrigerators, kerosene stoves and cabinets for merchants in Cusco, Drug Flagyl. An even greater number tote trekkers' backpacks and camping gear along the Inca Trail, to the summits of Machu Picchu, Drug Flagyl usa, Ausangate and the Cordillera Blanca. Without these porters, tens of thousands of tourists would not be able to experience the wonders of Peru's mountain settings. Porters also assist glaciologists, archaeologists and other scientists in their expeditions.
The typical rate for a porter is just $3 to $5 per day (less than what it costs to rent a llama). Drug Flagyl, Often porters cannot afford to buy food, so they sustain their energy on the trail by chewing coca leaves, whose juice provides energy and minerals. (Coca leaves are not a drug like cocaine.) Understandable, many porters are chronically malnourished.
Not only do porters suffer physically, they also endure emotional abuse as members of Peru's ethnic underclass. Peruvian-born photographer Jorge Vera, 10mg Drug Flagyl, who has documented the lives of Andean porters since 1995, notes that porters in Cusco are overwhelmingly of native Andean descent; most speak only their native Quechua and Aymara dialects. Unable to converse in Spanish with shop owners and merchants, who are often mestizo or white, the porters are vulnerable to being verbally abused or taken advantage of financially. In general, other Peruvians look down on porters, Vera notes:
"Porters are a cast of people set aside into social darkness and economic stigma and used exclusively as human beasts of burden, Drug Flagyl. Without labor, medical and or social care programs, porters in Peru are truly modern-day outcasts, a disposable humanity in the midst of a booming multi-million dollar annual tourist industry."
"I started to photograph porters in the Peruvian Andes during my wedding trip home in 1995. As a child growing up in Peru, Drug Flagyl us, I had never fully realized the role these porter children, women and men play in the commercial transportation of goods for hire. In some cases entire nomadic clans or families of porters are managed by Westernized, Spanish-speaking mestizo-operated businesses.
"Severely underpaid, Porters are recompensed sometimes only with meals, used shoes or clothing, and most commonly with coca leaves, a must to numb their bodies to the brutal labor and the exposure to the nightly frigid cold of the high Andes. Drug Flagyl, Life expectancy for porters is short, often falling prey to tragic accidents in the precipices of the Andes, theft and most often sheer exhaustion."
In 2003 Vera came to Cusco to assist with a newly formed porter's union, the first in that city. Vera took photographs for the porter's first-ever ID tags. This documentation was crucial to establish the porters as full-fledged workers in the Cusco economy (prior to 2003, the ID-less porters often were made scapegoats for thefts), Drug Flagyl craiglist. Vera's portraits of porters can be seen online at his photo.net site.
Cusco porter, photo by Jorge Vera 2003 1
Other efforts to improve the lives of Andean porters were made in the early 2000s, when the NGO "Casa del Cargador" was launched in Peru. This social-assistance program provided refuge, education and support to porters in the Cusco area (read more about it here). Sadly, the program appears to have been dissolved as of 2008 (posts on the Web site ended in 2006), Drug Flagyl.
Worldwide, however, support for porters has grown in recent years. Drug Flagyl coupon, The International Porter Protection Group (IPPG) is dedicated to improving the safety of mountain porters.
The IPPG website notes:
IPPG aims to improve safety and health for porter working in the mountains for the trekking industry worldwide. We work to eradicate avoidable illness, injury and death. We do this by raising awareness of the issues among travel companies, guides, trek leaders, sirdars (porters' foremen), and trekkers.
IPPG also supports porters in their quest for a decent wage and freedom from overloading (especially at high altitude).
Please visit the IPCC Web site to learn how you can help porters in Peru and elsewhere.
More web resources include the blog The Mountain Porter, which provides current global news on porter issues, the 2006 Guardian Eco-Dilemma article on “Is It OK to Hire a Mountain Porter?” and Tourism Concert’s article “Trekking Wrongs: Porters’ Rights.” For a list of UK tour operators with ethical porter policies, click here.
To the thousands of porters who cart their Sisyphean loads across the Andes and Himalayas: An American in Lima salutes you.
---Barbara R. Drake
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