Monday, August 11, 2008

Day 9: Meat, Blood and Milk

Saturday: A rough nights sleep last night. The lions(s?) stuck around camp from 3AM until around 5AM. They were near my tent maybe about 5 minutes making noises. I could hear him walking around behind me. While it was only a brief period of time, it seemed to last an eternity.

Nickson and I went out for a short drive this morning. Only about an hour or so. We came across a large pride of lions. I counted 9 adult females and 2 cubs. I finally got some nice clean shots of lion cubs which was great.

-Camp is packed, Nickson and Swalehh are rigging the trailer so it will close. Nickson was pretty ticked last night. The other group that was going to meet up with us in Serengeti's tents didn't make it with them. They were going to be taking the trailer with them so Nickson spent a couple of hours yesterday removing the hitch for their vehicle. Now that they aren't going to make it here he had to put the hitch back on. Quite a lot of work.

-An opening did become available for this morning on the hot air balloon. Time is short today and $500 is a lot of money. I think that is something that I would rather experience with Lea and the girls than alone.

-I'm on the drive towards Ngorongoro. We are stopped because of troubles with the trailer again. The road between Serengeti and Ngorongor as mentioned on the way out here is quite simply..a brutal road. Massive holes, huge clouds of dust, penetrating sun and not much else. The gate at Serengeti requires everyone to stop for a long period of time. Being there is like sitting in a giant, hot bowl of dirt.

-We are stopped again to fix the trailer. It is what it is.

-Yet again! This time for about 45 minutes.

-10 minutes on the guessed it. Stopped because of the friggin trailer. We've still got 2 hours driving time to the lodge. I do not want to be late again like we were for Ndutu.

-5 minutes after we were back on the road again it broke for good. The shaft connecting it to the Land Cruise broke in half so we are finally leaving it. Everything is getting loaded on top of the Land Cruiser. What a pain in the ass. A young Maasai boy came by to watch. I gave him some money to take his picture.

-We detached the trailer and the three of us pushed it up the road to a Maasai village to leave until someone could pick it up. When we arrived all the children in the village came out to see us. I said "Jambo!" and some said it back, others shyly waved. We walked back to the car and I told Nickson I wanted to go back to give them the pencils, paper and crayons I had brought. We we did I was invited into the village (for a fee) to see how they lived. It was an incredible experience! They started hooting and yelling loudly. Everyone came out to welcome me with song and dance. I was invited to join them and was sadly reminded of how lacking I am regarding any sense of rythm whatsoever. Politely, they did not snicker where I could see them :)

We then walked inside the village where they demonstrated their hunting ceremony. They jump high in the air singing and chanting. Again I was invited to jump. I think I held my own on that one :) My host Oberlo (?) invited me into his Mother's tiny hut with a roof made of cow dung. 6 children and 2 adults live inside. He told me Maasai men have many wives. Some in his village have 10! The women marry at age 16. The men at age 20. The men's father's pick their wives for them. My host is 32. His father died when he was 7 so he could not marry. Instead, he is required to buy a wife for the price of 10 cows. He only has 4 cows saved up. Cows cost $300. We went back outside and looked at their jewelry and items for sale. I couldn't resist and bought several items including a necklace with the tooth of a lion, a decorative shield made from the hide of a Cape Buffalo as well as some beaded necklaces for the girls. He told me they are building a school for the children and asked me to donate which I did. We then walked into the small school hut where all the children immediately began singing a wonderful song that brought tears to my eyes. A young boy walked to a chalkboard and started to recite the English Alphabet. The other children repeated after him loudly and proudly. It was incredible! I snapped a few photo's but it was very dark inside and I had underexposed by a bit unintentionally so we'll see how they come out. I don't care though. The experience was something I don't need a photograph to remind me. I don't expect to forget it.

My host confirmed the Maasai diet consists entirely of Meat, Blood and Milk. They cut into the main vein on a cows neck and drain 3 liters of blood 2 times per year from each cow. They mix the blood with the milk and drink it. They eat the cows milk also. They hunt Cape Buffalo (with spears) but only use the hide to make shields. They hunt Lions (also with spears) but only for their teeth. The leave the meat for other animals and don't eat it.

I gave him some school supplies that I had brought from home for the kids. I am glad I brought them now that I've seen the school.

We hauled ass the rest of the drive since we were no longer burdened with the trailer. It took about 2 hours to get to the camp on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater. We dropped Swalehh and our gear off there and then drove another hour or so out of Ngorongor through a small town and down a small dirt road where on the side, people were farming in the beatiful red dirt. We pulled into the Bougainvillea Safari Lodge and I was thrilled! It is very charming. A small army of teenaged boys and girls stood by impeccably dressed waiting for me to exit the car so they could take my bags. I was greeted inside with a cold glass of fresh Watermelon juice and it hit the spot! The crew with my bags escorted me to my awesome room with a huge bed and an immaculate bathroom! It's incredible how much I have grown to appreciate privage, clean bathrooms with flushing toilets :)

I walked back to the lobby and ordered a bottle of Sharye Red Wine from the Dodoma Region of Tanzania. It tastes like heaven. I'm enjoying a glass on my patio while writing this entry and watching dozens of Lovebirds fly around me. They are so pretty and so colorful. The main event is coming up! A HOT SHOWER!

FYI: My shins are killing me right now from the Maasai jumping.

-I don't think I have ever experienced such perfect service. I walked into the lobby and started looking for a seat. A young man asked "Would you like to sit by the fire?" I said "yes" and instantly him and another guy that appeared out of nowhere grabbed a chair and a table and set me up right next to the blazing fire. I read more of Catch 22 by Joseph Heller and the Chef/Manager Reggie came by to see how I was doing. We chatted for a bit and he invited me into the dining room for dinner. Everyone else followed. The moment I sat, a woman served me an avocado sliced in half, perfectly ripe with an incredible salsa over the top. Next, a young man came by holding a hot bowl of soup in his hands while I ladled it into my bowl. The main course was beef stroganoff, carrots, pototoes and rice. Again, the server held the (what must have been incredibly hot) dishes while I served myself as much as I thought I could eat. I overrate. It was so incredibly good! Reggie came back and we chatted about the Seattle area for a while. It turned out he had cooked in Bellingham for 6 weeks. I had 30 minutes internet time. With a dial up connection that wasn't enough. I saw tons of subscription sales on Fotolia. Don't know if that's good or bad.

I am wiped out...going to bed.

The Moon Was still out when we spotted a Heron next to this serene scene.
The sun was just coming up and we found this pride of lions with cubs.
It was early at this time.
Very Early

What a cute cub eh?
A Lion Pride is filled with affection.

This road is brutal!
Maasai Boy watching us work on the trailer.
Maasai Welcoming Ceremony in front of their village.

Maasai Hunting Ceremony.
White Men can Jump.
This is Oberlo inside his Mother's hut where 8 people live. He needs 6 more cows to buy a wife.
A Maasai Woman just inside the wall of the village.
A young boy reciting the English Alphabet to the class.
Visiting this school was a highlight of the trip.
This little guy was very curious about my camera.

The kids were so happy.

Two Maasai Men.
We stopped to take in the magnificent view of Ngorongoro Crater.
This wine was so good!


Anonymous said...

Those pictures were great, it would be nice if you could mail photos of the kids to Nickson and he could get them to their mothers. They would love them. love, Mom

Anonymous said...

I hope you did not drink the bloody milk! I also love the school children. It is sooo sad for them, but they all seem happy .Great photos. When are you going to the expedition? Good Luck?