Jambo, jambo and karibu, blog followers! (Swahili for hello, hello and welcome!)
Due to sketchy internet, we are a day behind, and the adventure continues to become more incredible each day. To continue the adventure:
After leaving Arusha to begin our safari, we drove through dry, dusty land inhabited by the Maasai Tribe, As explained in the last blog, the Maasai are the largest tribe in Africa. They are trying to hold on to their traditions in an ever changing world, and are succeeding quite well from what we observed. They are primarily nomadic herders, having a strong bond with their cows, and they move with the seasons, of which Africa has two: wet and dry. They live in small villages made up of small mud and stick huts and an occasional block buildings with a tin roof.
We passed many small villages, saw herds of cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, and even a few camels that were tended by men, women and children. Some were friendly when we wanted to take pictures, some became angry, and some asked for money in order to be photographed. Knowing that many are poor, we gladly accommodated them. We stopped at a Maasai village, which allows tourists to see the village for a fee of $60 per vehicle.
This particular village was small and poor; however, the chief’s son greeted us and gave us a tour of the village, which consisted of a few small huts (one of which was a school for about five girls), a corral built from sticks and branches, and an array of crafts made by the women to raise money for the school.
The villagers greeted us with a traditional Maasai greeting dance, which consisted of singing and jumping by all, and high jumping by the men.
We watched for awhile, then were “encouraged to join in. The men demonstrated the skill of starting a fire with only a stick and a machete, The chief’s son demonstrated their way of living by taking us into a very small hut (about 10’x10′ round) that had a fire pit and two separate sleeping beds, one for the father and sons, and the other for mother and daughters.
Polygamy is the norm, so each wife builds her own hut, which usually takes about 20 days. We stopped in the school hut, and distributed items such as pads, pencils, crayons, markers, candy, and gum to the children, for which the chief’s son thanked us.
We were then encouraged to buy crafts made by the women, with the chief’s son translating while we negotiated a price. While it was a show for tourists, it was also a true glimpse of the Maasai way of life, as well as a way for a poor village to make some money.
It’s very hard to wrap my head around the fact that this culture continues to endure, and live much as they have for centuries. The next day, we saw some teenaged boys dressed in black with painted faces walking along the road.
Our guide George explained that they were preparing to go through the ritual to become a warrior, which (among other things) involves being circumcised without crying. If a boy cries, his father must pay 5 cows to the chief; if he does not, his father gets a cow. High price for crying! I could go on, as this culture facinates me, but the photos say it all. I’m developing a new passion for travel photography!
Our first game drive was through Taranguire National Park, where we saw elephants, giraffe, jackals, wart hogs (known as lion’s chocolate), more elephants that I can even count, ostriches, impalas, dic dics, mongoose, water bucks, cape buffalo, baboons, gazelles, and a myriad of beautiful birds. I have taken over 1000 pictures (at least) so far, and will be editing for the next few years, I’m sure. We stayed in a tented lodge last night, and had breakfast looking out over a plain that had zebras, wildabeests, and warthogs to entertain us! Back to Taranguire for another game drive, then on to the mountains, which are cool and lush. We are in a beautiful lodge perched on the rim of Ngorogoro Crater, which we will explore tomorrow, in the hope ot photographing black rhino, lions, leopards, cape buffalo, and cheetas, in addition to the animals we have already seen. In the interest of time (it’s 11:00 and we have to get up at 6:00 tomorrow) we will leave descriptions and more photos of the wildlife for our next blog. I can’t even begin to describe how incredible that has been. A teaser: can you imagine a bull elephant 3 feet from the vehicle, with the rest of the herd milling around?
Thanks for following. Tune in for our wildlife adventure!
Kathy and K