Karatu – Had a really good sleep best one of the trip. However, upon waking I remember that packing for our day and night at the Masai village needed to happen – I kept asking myself, how can I possibly bring all the things / clothes I will need for a stay in a Masai village? Wasn’t easy but I got it all into my small bag. I mean, how can you pack for a sort of unknown, known? Anyway, I did it. As I tend to always say, ‘if you don’t have it, you don’t need it.’
At breakfast later today as we had a more relaxed start. We headed back east again seeing what we didn’t see in the dark. Stopped in one spot for a few shots of the first baboons we saw. Stopped again at an overlook to Lake Manyara and got assaulted by the trinket sales guys. I made a mistake and didn’t bring any money, very dumb on my part.
After some great long wide landscapes of the Rift valley, the lake, and distant flocks of storks, pulled off at a very large open-air market, somewhat hot, dry and dusty, this market was filled with a throng of locals buying and selling stuff. We were quickly the subject of a great deal of attention and I again had to explain over and over, I don’t have any money! Everyone wants to be your new best friend. Met a guy ‘Emanuel,’ who followed me around through the whole walk. When he realized that I really didn’t have money, he was mostly happy to give me a running narrative on the market and stuff there. It’s only on Thursdays, it tends to be organized into places for common stuff like say shoes or fabric. Of course my new best friend was more interested in selling me something but we talked about a lot of different topics. One spot was the ‘Masai Shoe’ area. These shoes are pieces of tires with the sidewalls cut off and the sole just left to curve up on both ends. Men’s versions are plain with limited decorations, while women’s are highly decorated and a bit on the lighter side. Kinda reminded me of things I saw in Mexico a long time ago but these shoes were different as they were curved. After about a 30-minute walk through the market, we ended up at the cars and the high pressure vendors. Julie bought some stuff at high prices but really not much. Managed to get away. Sorry no photos there as we were warned that these folk might not be so receptive to this.
Back on the road to the Masai School (the entrance off road sign is above). Got there mid-day. Were mobbed by kids of course. We met the teachers there and then were cut loose to wander. There were only 7 classrooms, grades 1-7, and of the 7 teachers working there only 5 were available. We got an orientation from one of the teachers and we met the principal as well. Soon after this, the kids spilled out of the classrooms and it was a good thing we’d had training at the school in Moshi for this experience. TGL/kids/cameras/fun it all happened until around our lunchtime.
Here is a short video of the kids singing: IMGP0615
At lunchtime, we headed above the school to where our support team had set up shop. On folding metal tables with table cloth, we were served a fine meal of Tanzanian pizza hard to describe the topping but it had carrots and other things on it. It was delicious as was the deep-fried chicken and other stuff. Very cool to have your own cooks along on a Safari like this. After lunch, we had some more time with the school kids and then began the short ¼ mile walk over the hill to the village.
The first order of business was to meet with the chief of the village and request his approval for both our stay with them and the overnight stay in a boma. By now we’d learned the appropriate Swahili greetings but we had to get some coaching on greeting the Chief in Masai language. Also, women had to be 45 or older to shake the hand of the Chief. Anyway, the Chief, reported to be 105 year old or so (he’d been the Chief for the past 70 years or so, was very gracious and funny. He then asked Godloove to explain the Masai history and how they come to live in the village. Here is a short portion of this discussion. IMGP9502, the Chief is on the right seated. Formalities over, we were allowed the freedom of the village upon which we began to move around and explore the area.
There were two large baobab trees in the village and for me, those became prominent landmarks. Near dusk, we went back over the hill to a sit down bush dinner again provided by our support team, wow. Much later we were issued sleeping bags and we grabbed our overnight gear + camera stuff heading back to three bomas which had been prepared for us…not sure what that consisted of but killing cockroaches was part of the equation for sure. The plan was to try to do some astrophotography as it was REALLY dark there before we retired to our bomas. Now keep in mind that although the Masai live traditionally, they have headlamps, cell phones, and some other modern stuff. However, the bomas a mud walled wood reinforced circular structure which has a small fire pit in the center and is kept in near darkness, have no lights and not much ventilation either. More about that in Day 5’s post. Regardless, we headed up to one of the baobab trees for some light painting / star shots. The weather was not cooperating as a partial cloud cover obscured the sky. I did some light painting with my head lamp and helped some others get familiar with this quasi art form. Wasn’t overly happy with the results but it was instructive to some of the group regardless.
About midnight we found ourselves back at our assigned boma, ready to bed down for the night. What a day…