Masai village and Lake Manyara
Trip Start Jun 12, 2007
129Trip End Ongoing
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Yesterday morning when me and John were talking to Stanley we asked him about the Masai people and how they live, he said that today he would take us to a Masai village if we wanted - we definitely wanted to and mentioned it to mum and dad last night - they weren't as keen as we were, but said they were happy to go along. We told Stanley as soon as we saw him that we wanted to go and so that is the direction in which we drove this morning.
Along the way we saw hippos, baby crocs, monkeys and had an absolutely cracking view of two cheetahs.
When we arrived at the village Stanley was greeted by someone who he spoke to for a minute or two and we were then greeted by a number of people, who started to sing and dance around us.
At this point Stanley goes back to the jeep to wait for us and the four of us are standing there, in all honesty not really knowing what to expect or what to do. Once the singing and dancing stopped we were taken into the centre of the village - a woman from the village put her hand out to me, I take a number of steps forward, and take hold of her hand - she didn't speak any English but the way she started swinging my arm I assumed she wants me to dance with her, so I start trying to copy the moves she is making and my mum comes to join in too. Meanwhile one of the men is trying to put a necklace type thing over my head and around my neck, the same as all the other women of the village are wearing - but my head is too big for all of them, all the while to chants from John, my mum and my dad - 'your head is too big' as they fall about laughing - just as we stop laughing one of the older men from the village shouts out "you have big head" and roars with laughter which then sets everybody off laughing again - finally they find one that fits and even though the lady I'm holding hands with and me don't communicate by word we look at each other and smile - that smile said a thousand words, it was just amazing. At this point in time I felt totally euphoric.
Afterwards John and my dad did some of the traditional high jumping with some of the men and John got involved in a conversation with some of them as a few of the men had good English.
Then Coco (probably not how it is spelt at all, but this is how it sounded) introduced himself and said that if we wanted to we could go inside one of their homes, but that there wouldn't be enough room for all of us, only two - so he gestured for my mum and dad to go with someone else and told me and John to follow him - which we did.
The homes were made of sticks and cow dung and are very small - we had to seriously bend to get in through the small door way which led round a corner and once inside the only daylight let in is through one small hole about the width of a tennis ball - which serves to let light in and let smoke out - directly underneath this is a small smouldering fire - which is used for warmth and to cook on. There is no point inside that you can actually stand up straight in. Inside is made up of 3 small areas, one is where the woman and her children sleep, the second is where the husband sleeps and the third is where all the baby cattle sleep. The Masai diet consists purely of cow, they eat the meat, drink the blood and drink the milk - the baby cattle are separated from their mothers at night so that they cannot drink the milk. They have nothing else in their diet at all, no fruit or vegetables or anything of that nature.
Coco informed us of all this - he patiently answered all our questions and told us more information about their way of life. He told us that they can have up to ten wives - and the amount of wives you are allowed to have is determined by how rich you are and how rich you are is determined by how much cattle you have - so the more cows you have, the more wives you can have. We explain to Coco that in England it is one husband, one wife - he looks horrified by this "What, not even two" he exclaims - no, we laugh, not even two. He said that as a Masai man you can chose which wife you want to stay with that night and just go there.
We were in there for ages talking to him and he seemed in no rush for us to go - I asked Coco if I could take a picture of him and he was more than happy - he then wanted to take a picture of us with my camera and insisted upon seeing them on the screen on the back of my digital camera.
Eventually we make our way outside and get taken up to the school, which was a small hut made of sticks where all the children were - they sang to us and then started reading times tables from the blackboard up front.
When I stood here, looking around I cannot describe the emotions going through me - last year when I went to Peru I spent a week with some Piro Indian children - they lived in the jungle and had nothing in terms of possessions, but they seemed truly happy - this though was different to that - these children didn't look so happy - they were beautiful, cause all children are, but a number of them had running noses, runny eyes, flies on their faces and around their eyes - dull eyes, not sparkling how they should, I'm probably making no sense cause it didn't make sense then and I still cannot make sense of it in my mind now. I just stood there and had an overwhelming feeling of wanting to do something - god knows what, but just something...... anything. I felt completely helpless, my thoughts were completely scrambled, we were about to go back to our jeep to continue on, but I wanted to stay - to do what?? I don't know, all I knew was that something hit me - it hit me harder than anything has hit me in a long time, like a freight train crashing into my stomach - so, what, now I just go away and write to say what a wonderful experience it was visiting this village??? What that's it??? Story over??? It can't be.
As we are leaving the school a little girl put her hand up to me (in a kind of high five type posture) - I take hold of her hand and squeeze it, she gripped onto my hand so tightly it was like a shot through the heart and stomach at the same time - completely overwhelming.
We get taken back to the jeep - I climb inside and sit down - it played on my mind for a long time and even now I can't let go of it.
Regardless, we carry on and start making our way over to Lake Manyara, which is where we are having our final afternoon on safari - as tomorrow we are flying on to Zanzibar.
While we have been driving around over the last week we have seen a number of accidents on the roads, and today was no different - we're driving along and there was an open back vehicle in front of us with a couple of men standing in the back of it, I'm not entirely sure what happened cause everyone in our jeep seemed to see something different and at the time I was gazing out of the side window - but what is known for sure is that a vehicle came in the other direction and I don't know what happened as it went past, but it caused the vehicle in front of us to spin in the road - and end up facing the wrong way - in the process of this one of the men standing in the back of the vehicle was literally thrown from it - some said straight over the top of the vehicle and some said thrown out over the side, but either ways there was a man laying deathly still in the middle of the road - as we skidded to a halt. This man didn't move a muscle for what seemed like an eternity - I thought he was dead, but not before time he slowly started to move - several people helped him to his feet as they helped him stagger to the side of the road, it was hard to tell the extent of his injuries, but certainly he had no idea what day of the week it was, whether it was night or day, or probably even what his own name was.
Eventually we continue on arriving at our lodge mid afternoon. We leave our bags, get a quick bite to eat and then we go into Lake Manyara national park for our last look at the wildlife. It's fairly quiet this afternoon - you don't get the vast quantities of animals here that you see on the Serengeti, its much more bushy and has lots of forest areas, so the animals that are there are not easy to spot. We did stop to watch a herd of elephants - as we were looking at them another safari vehicle came up behind us, I have no idea why but one of the elephants who had been stood there happily as we observed took exception to the jeep that came up behind us and started chasing it down the road - not quite sure what that was all about!!
Today has been another mind blowing day.