Carstensz post 3
I left a dreary Timika for the sunny, culturally rich, town of Wamena my mood changed with the weather. There is a war festival going on for the next 3 days and we will be in the middle of it. day one we travel to the Dani village and watch the historical ceremony, then the town has a parade of thousands to celebrate their heritage the entire town is involved. I am now with another climber on the team and one of the guides to wait out the weather for the heli flights to base camp in a much better place. Half of the team and the leader stayed in Timika to track the progress of the heli trips and backlog. There is a back log of 11 climbers in front of us trying to make it to base camp. I spoke to one group this was their 13 day stuck in Timika every morning coming to the airport and waiting to see if the heli makes it. Our logistic person got us two seats on a cargo heli strait to Wamema and soon we are out of the rain and in the middle of a Dani village on a sunny cool day.
It is the 30th anniversary of the festival and was started to keep the 3 warring factions peaceful. Before this hundreds of years at war. They have a mock war in full war attire which is for the men a gourd and women a grass skirt thats it. They do their dance off as the thousands of people watch and cheer. We meet the war chief he is in full head dress, and his gourd, his body painted, chewing a red substance looks like blood, spear, bow and arrow in hand. We buy handmade items from the women of the tribe, after a bit you get use to them being topless,I was more uncomfortable than they were. There is a big army presents there is a racial divide between the Indonesians and Papuans the Papua people are fighting for independence. the jungles around the city are full of Papuan separatist there have been 500,000 Papuans killed in the war. There is also big religious differences the Indonesia mostly Muslim and Papuan Christian, the army is Indonesian and in conflicts it is the priest that settles it not the army. There are churches and masque on every corner. The town is constantly noisy horn honking (which is seen as polite), loud motorcycles, the call to prayer wakes me at 4am every morning with dogs howling. All of this is exciting
Then next day the village comes to town. The parade last for 6 hours dancing down the center of town. Every organization, school, and surrounding towns participated. The town is crowded no alcohol is permitted it is banned from town forever. The joy was obvious and you saw Papuan, Indonesian, Christian, Muslim of all ages taking part. We were one of few white people there having to stop for pictures and high fives from the children. The main mode of transportation was scooter and there are thousands of them sometimes with a whole family on one scooter. Red lights were at intersections but was just a suggestion, bikes came from both directions honking as the ran through regardless of light color.
Day 3 was at a high lake 20 miles from town. We went early and got in a workout at altitude. Our guides kept us on the front part of the lake the separatist recently attacked workers building the road killing 31 people. On our way down we passed hundreds of people coming up for the days events. I also noticed swastikas adorning houses in many of the villages I ask and learned something. The swastika has an extensive history. It was used at least 5,000 years before Adolf Hitler designed the Nazi flag. The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit which means Good fortune or Welll-being. It is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Odinism. It is a common sight on temples or houses in Indonesia.
I am writing Monday August 12, my mom and dads birthday I am on my way back to Timika landing in the rain as I left it. No flights left today and we now have 4 days left to get the mountain in. I look at my calendar and I have surfing in Bali for today. That’s not going to happen we have used up our contingency days and are up against deadlines and permits and the lease on the helicopter expiring. My concerns grow that if it was this hard getting up how long will it take us to get down. I have gone through most of my food that I brought with me. This is part of mountaineering you can’t control, the weather you must learn to live with what you get.
Lesson to grandkids:
Patience is truly a virtue. Getting upset at things you cant do anything about is a waste of energy and will take you down a angry and negative road. Getting stuck in Timika, potentially not making the summit of Carstensz, cost, weeks away from family and work, if I dwell on these things I will go down the dark road. I go to my checklist, did my decisions create these outcomes? If so what should I have done differently, then I have learned something. If not then move on. Did I work hard enough to see the good in each day or did I focus on the bad? I know if you are not patient on the mountain and push, the mountain wins.