Nepal

Porters.

Porters and yaks carry heavy loads over the same ground we found tiring carrying just a day pack.

On frequent occasions I saw men and boys not much more than half my size and weight, carrying loads of 80 to 100 kgs. up the steep, rough tracks, covering a distance in two days, which took us five days to cover. And occasionally there were female porters also.

I saw an elderly porter with a heavy load balanced high over his head walking bare foot over the rough stony track. And I saw boys of 11, 15 and 18 years, also carrying loads up to 50 or 60 kgs, over the same rough steep tracks.

With a porter's permission, I packed his load on my back and staggered about three paces trying to balance and carry the load for which the 15 year old porter was responsible.

We often ascertained the weight of their loads by counting the number of cartons of beer or bags of rice they carried. Five cartons of beer above a sack of rice was not uncommon.

And while we hung on to the side ropes of the swinging suspension bridges for balance, they walked with their arms above or behind them to balance their loads.

These incredible men and boys who work for only several dollars a day, out of which they have to pay for their meals and accommodation, have my utmost respect and admiration.

They always agreed when I indicated by displaying my camera, that I would like to take their photo, and smiled happily when I displayed the photo on the digital camera screen.

On our last night in Lukla, we offered our porters a selection of donated clothing brought from Australia, along with other gifts and money. The hard working porters and guides were so grateful for what we gave them, that the response of several trekkers was quite emotional.

For photos of Porters, go here.

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Last updated 24 May 2006.