Tupac’s presence here on the GALA website – as the first of many memorials to beloved lamas and lama people – is an honor. He may be known to many for his travels and exploits, but he represents the story of everyone’s ‘first llama’: that llama who taught us and brought us humans to that place of gentle understanding. Tu, you live forever in the hearts of your grateful friends everywhere.
– Born in a Maryland zoo and sold to a game farm in Southwick, MA. In December 1983, age 1, purchased by Don and Hilary Ware, and placed unceremoniously in the back of a pickup truck for the trip home to Maine.
– Named, for his regal bearing, after the most famous Incan king.
– Immediately took on guardianship of our sheep flock, although he preferred the company of the horses.
– Demonstrated, early on, his jumping ability and love of children by leaping (our 5 foot) fences regularly, to stand in the road, stop the school bus, and visit through the open door.
– Was a regular visitor to elderhostels, local elementary schools, nursing homes, libraries, parade routes and live nativities (with and without a ‘hump’). He was a fixture at the Fryeburg Fair lama barn until a few years before his death. He was Versatility Champion at the Big E Llama Show (and never had to go to a show again after that!). Tu also went to all the GALA Conferences in New England.
– Became a professional packer, trained and used for many summers in western Maine by Steve Crone and Telemark Llama Treks. Tupac’s trekking experience literally saved a group of less experienced llama campers on a 3 day hike one May on Bigelow Mountain in Maine. Faced first by a ¼ mile boulder field then by an 11 foot cliff – neither of which we could go around. Tupac was placed in the lead. With his lead line draped over his neck, he thoughtfully picked a route through the boulder field, the rest of us following, and got our line of hikers and llamas across with only one torn toenail. Then, above the cliff – pack and lead line removed – he gracefully jumped (every other llama watching carefully!) onto a narrow outcropping 5 feet straight down, down another 6 feet of cliff and crawled under a huge blowdown, waiting on the other side. Every other llama did the same and the trip was saved.
– Marched for many years in Terry Beal’s Maine Llama Drill Team.
– Filmed an ad for the local Dodge car dealership featuring himself and two other llamas with their heads stuck out of three sunroofs cut into a minivan roof. Word has it that traffic into the dealership improved dramatically, with customers asking where they could get a llama, not a van!
– Became the Pushmi-Pullyu at the ILA National Conference in Burlington, VT when the Pushmi-Pullyu awards were presented. Promoted a healthy ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ by sauntering around the Fryeburg Fairgrounds dressed as the Pushmi-Pullyu.
– Fell through the not-quite-fully-frozen pond ice (air temp: minus 3 degrees) and had to be thawed for several hours with hairdryers in the kitchen.
– Carried Hilary’s skis and boots up into Tuckerman Ravine on Mt. Washington for some spring skiing one April. By the end of that 3 hour hike, I could have made a lot of money hiring Tu’s services out to other hikers. After the ski (and accolades from appreciative, slightly drunk revelers), Tupac frolicked alongside us, no lead line, down the Sherburne ski trail back to the base of the mountain.
– Had a short skijoring career. Tu was not the reason it was short….he loved it way too much.
Finally, Tupac leaves the memory of his grace, intelligence, sense of humor and wise spirit on countless school children. He brightened many a day for withdrawn nursing home residents; connected with numerous children and adults with disabilities, and delighted many unsuspecting travelers on Dunn Road in North Norway. He changed and enriched my life beyond measure.
Here is a loving salute to all ‘first llamas’ and their generosity and patience. We are better for knowing you.