10/1/09: A Masai village in Tanzania
Today we were attacked by kites (the birds, not the kites) at lunch, we saw the Ngorongoro Crater, we toured the Serengeti (as made famous by the Lion King) and we pitched our tent in the dark and in the rain and in the middle of a park full of lions for the first time. But I’m not going to talk about any of that. We have done so many amazing things in Africa during our first three weeks here, but today’s experience is probably my favorite.
Just as had happened four days earlier on our way to the Masai Mara National Reserve, one of our safari buses broke down today. Just as had happened four days earlier, we stopped near some Masai warriors who helped us fix the problem. This time though, while one warrior carved a wooden part to replace the broken truck spring (this in itself was an amazing piece of workmanship), we were fortunate enough to talk to several others who spoke English. This in itself would not crack my top five experiences here, as many Masai are modernizing and getting jobs in cities, for example. However, this village we stopped at was in the Middle of Nowhere, Tanzania and its inhabitants were very traditional Masai where the men protect the cattle and the women do everything else (as described in yesterday’s post). The best part though was how open and giving they were.
Shortly upon our arrival, a couple of us began talking to a 30 year old warrior named Samoro (unfortunately, with all that was going on around me, I forgot his name, so this is my best guess). He openly talked about his life (spent entirely in the village), his cows (he has 50), his plans for the future (he wants two wives and four to six kids), his shoes (he bought crocs at a market many kilometers away because he injured his foot) and his village (of 80 people). He then offered up a tour of the village kitchen, where part of a sheep was being cooked for lunch. We walked around meeting more of the tribe and learned that their entire diet consists of sheep, goat and cow and their byproducts. They drink the blood of the animals and eat the meat. They do not eat vegetables or anything else, and judging by the surrounding desolation, it was easy to see why.
After our tour, Samoro and a couple others kindly agreed to take photographs with us, even though we did not offer them money (most Masai ask for a small fee in exchange for pictures – I think usually to help them buy more cows). This led to what is now my most prized photograph of the trip, shown at the end of this post.
We’ve done so many cool things in Africa, so I’m not quite sure if I can adequately describe why this experience was my favorite. I suppose it’s just the thought that there we were, miles and miles away from any resemblance of the life we’re used to, learning the customs of a culture so foreign to us, yet so similar. The village was simply a group of huts arranged in a circle, the kitchen was simply a fire surrounded by thorn brush to keep animals out, and the people dressed in blankets and handmade jewelry unlike anything back in the States. But the warmth and openness of the Masai reminded me of my own family, and made me realize that we’re really not all that different after all.
Ohio Picture: If you’ve seen something like this before, please let me know, but this picture is of Zhou and me and three Masai warriors in Tanzania doing the O H I O O. I’m pretty sure this has never been done in the history of man, therefore this picture must get straight to Gordon Gee. I’m sure he’ll pardon the spelling error.
Picture of the Day: Unfortunately, this stork has fallen on hard times