We had planned to get up at 6 am to get some things taken care of, but we forgot to actually set the alarm. I woke up at 6:30 and it was already very light out. I wrote in the journal and we prepared for the day. At 7, one of the Maasai camp staff came by with our "wake up call". There was a brief appearance by our new friend Mouse #10. He scurried across the roof of the tent and you could hear the tapping of his feet on the surface as he ran back and forth numerous times. We left the tent and headed up to breakfast at 7:30. The breakfast table was set up outside the dining area this morning. We had eggs, sausage, bacon, beans, papaya, mango, toast, a little banana, apple juice, and coffee. I ate some but still did not have a full appetite. As usual, Craig who still felt fine, was sure to pick up any slack at the breakfast table. Michael ate with us and pointed out some white capped weaver birds while we were enjoying our food and overlooking the savannah below. Kambi ya Tembo had some really creative uses for Maasai artwork. They used cylindrical tobacco holders as toilet paper rolls (which I suppose could be construed as insulting, but we thought it was an ingeniously practical use for the item). The lodge also used the large disc-shaped beaded necklaces as centerpieces on the dining tables.
At 8, we headed off with Michael and Lucas for our first game drive in Tanzania. We saw gazelles, a gabar goshawk bird, 3 little dik-diks, a rabbit running down the road, and a fiscal shrike. Craig and I kept thinking they were saying "physical shrike" and we thought that was rather amusing. We saw white headed buffalo weavers (which had bright orange at the base of the tail). We saw three generok at a distance. They are similar to antelopes but apparently they are rare to see. It seems that they don't have them at Maasai Mara or Amboseli. We saw a bunch of baboons and vervet monkeys. The monkeys took to the trees as we approached. We spent a little while parked near the base of the trees just watching how all the monkeys were reacting to our presence. Lucas told us that the yellow barked acacia is also called the fever acacia because colonists camped beneath them and the moisture bred mosquitoes, which caused outbreaks of malaria. We saw about 6 baby "tommies" looking very vulnerable to predators without their parents, and we saw quite a few zebras and some wildebeest.
Suddenly we came across three elephants marching across the landscape. Michael drove up a bit closer to the largest one and we got a great view. Then a smaller one with large tusks started trumpeting and charging toward the vehicle, kicking up dust as it went. It was coming toward the vehicle but eventually turned away when we didn't back off. It was pretty scary and definitely got the adrenaline pumping. Michael and Lucas pointed out that it was in heat and probably not that happy we were there. I sort of felt we should move on as I had enough of driving so close to the elephants and was feeling rather nervous. Craig didn't seem all that worried and we continued to drive by them a few more times. Michael was fearless . At one point, two of the elephants clearly got good and sick of us hanging around. One after another they trumpeted and ran parallel to the vehicle. It was quite scary to me yet still fascinating to watch this all unfolding directly in front of us. According to Sylvestry when we discussed this later, these elephants must have been from a different area where there are more poachers and because of this they are more hostile toward humans. The "regular" elephants of Sinya are usually more docile.
At around 10 we ended the game drive and started heading toward the market. Tuesday is market day for all of the Maasai in the area. They come from near and far to buy and sell goods, tell stories, pass along news, and generally keep themselves connected with the other neighboring tribes. The government is trying to get them to eat other foods in addition to their traditional goat, beef, and blood, and this is where they can obtain some of these different food items. We saw apples, avocados, onions, vegetable fat, etc. The first group of Maasai that we encountered were preparing a fire under a tree. A woman with a young son was peeling bananas. Next to them were some men selling goat meat. The goat carcasses were suspended from the trees to keep them away from dogs and other predators. In the shade of every tree, Maasai were gathering, selling and buying. Men were off in the distance in the hot sun selling and trading livestock. Another group of men were drinking banana beer mixed with vodka. They joked that Craig should buy them all a round. Craig was interested but Michael didn't seem to think that it was a good idea. Sometimes it was a little difficult to read signals from Michael, especially when he was trying to be discreet in front of the Maasai gathered here. I'm not sure if it was because he didn't want Craig to drink the banana beer or because he didn't think he should get involved with the particular group of people. Either way, we moved on.
A group of women were passing by and noticed my earrings (which I had bought at the first Maasai village we had visited in Kenya). They were amused by the small size of my piercings. They kept grabbing on to their ear lobes, pointing at mine, looking at each other and giggling. We all got a good laugh out of it because regardless of the words being spoken, it was clear what was so amusing. They took jewelry off of their necks and offered to sell it but Michael told them (we think) that we had already shopped at a village yesterday. We didn't mind their offer but we think Michael was trying to prevent us from receiving a bit too much attention from all the people gathered here. We wandered around, and met a medicine man. He had various bottles filled with medicines and treatments for various ailments.
For the most part the women and the men were separate at the market. We learned that it is taboo for them to eat together. Warriors ("morani") also can't eat at home, as it is a sign of being dependant on their mothers, and shows weakness. One man walked up and shook Craig's hand. When Craig greeted him with "Sopa", the man got very excited and commented to Michael that he liked when white people took an interest in the Maasai, and tried to speak their language. They shook hands for quite a while, and then the man grabbed Craig's thumb (Maasai often seem to do this when shaking hands). It was quite hot and windy and unfortunately there was quite a bit of trash blowing around (plastic bags, bits of paper, etc). Men often buy cloth in the town and then sell it as shukas at the market. We saw one man who had a big spread of different fabrics to be used as shukas.
While wandering around the market, immersing ourselves in our surroundings, we met someone that Michael introduced as his brother. At first we didn't think this actually was his brother. It seemed that everyone would call each other "their brother" and we learned to not take it so literally. In this case, it turned out, this actually was his brother. We left Michael to catch up with him and we took a walk up to the nearby school. Students are on vacation now, but we saw the boarding school buildings, simple dorms, and the dining hall from the outside. Everything was very simple yet still included those things necessary for a boarding school. All we could think of is how spoiled children at home have become. These children had so little, yet the Maasai children that went to school here considered themselves highly priviledged. We walked by a small building where some small children were playing on a little porch. They waved to us and one started beating a plastic bucket as a drum. It was very sweet. It was very hot and dusty in this area as there was very little shade. We walked slowly ("pole pole" as they say in Swahili) back to the market area.
Lucas brought us under some trees to where some men were cooking goat legs. The meat, supported by skewers made from whittled branches, were sticking upright out of the coals of the fire. Lucas and Michael bought one of the cooked legs from them and we went "into the bush" (i.e. behind the trees) to eat it. Lucas first had us wash our hands with some bottled water. Lucas carved the meat up with his machete and handed pieces to each of us. He gave me the first taste. It was delicious - so juicy, succulent and fresh. Now here was an East African feast! This meat was quite tough though. I had a hard time chewing it into pieces. I found that a single piece lasted a lot longer than it did for Craig and the others. Craig joked that this meat was "working meat" and not at all like what we buy in the store at home. He continued cutting pieces off the skewer, passing them to any willing recipient, until the meat was gone. A few feet away from us was a dog waiting patiently for the bone. He didn't bother us at all, but stood off to the side politely but expectantly. After we were done, Michael, Lucas, and a friend of theirs cut up the bone and gnawed off whatever they could. When they were done, they rewarded the dog for his patience and gave him the bones. He was quite happy and ran off to finish them. After washing up again we got back into the Land Rover. We met up with an employee of the camp (who only spoke Maa) and he was looking for a ride back to the camp. Michael asked if it was ok with us and we were delighted. On the way back we saw zebras, a giraffe, and some gazelles. It was very windy and dusty but we were really feeling connected to all that we were exposed to.
We arrived back at camp just before 1:00, and lunch was set for 1:15. We sat in the common area and I wrote in the journal while Craig just sat enjoying the views. I wanted to write as much as I could about the market experience. As much as I wanted to, I hadn't taken any photos out of respect (we didn't want to upset the villagers at the market), so I wanted to make sure to capture my memories on paper as soon as possible. Lucas served me a Coke and Craig had a Kilimanjaro beer. They called us to the table right on time so I didn't get too much written. We joined Michael at one of the tables. Lunch today was barbecued chicken, veggie quiche (which was more like a pizza than a traditional quiche and was fantastic), bread, salad containing apple slices, and grilled eggplant. I was voracious and for the first time at Kambi ya Tembo ate a respectable amount of food. Finally I didn't have to feel a little embarrassed and apologetic. I even took seconds on the quiche and salad. It was so good. Sylvestry came over to ask how our day had been so far. We told him how much we enjoyed the market and just how much we appreciated all the interactions we had with the Maasai people. He told us that another couple was going to be staying here tonight but they wouldn't arrive until much later. Since we were so excited last night, Sylvestry informed us that he had been able to arrange a second village visit for us later in the afternoon. We were so grateful for his efforts. We went back to the room at 2:00 for a siesta but we chose to relax rather than actually take a nap. I took this opportunity to finish writing in the journal. At 3:30, we met Michael out by the Land Rover. He laughed and said that Lucas was late as usual. We told Michael that he should get on the radio and call out "Luca, Luca" again and we all laughed. We drove down the access road to the staff quarters and Lucas came running out. He hopped into the truck and we all headed off.
Just outside of camp we saw a herd of 15 giraffes just hanging around browsing. Once again, they all immediately stopped what they were doing and stared at us as we drove by. It really was an impressive sight and immediately reminded us of where we were. This was not all a dream and yet we never imagined being fortunate enough to be here. As we drove along the same dirt road, we saw yesterday's village in the distance. It was such a beautiful location. We continued our drive for about half an hour. On the way we passed large fields of wheat (used for bread) and barley (used for beer). Many of the fields are owned by companies outside of the immediate area but they do provide jobs for some of the locals. Again, it is hard to tell if this is really beneficial to the Maasai or somewhat exploitative. By introducing these types of jobs into the area, some people were now receiving payment for their efforts. This can raise the standard of living in the area in an unnatural way. Not knowing enough about the details we had to simply accept some things at face value. Michael and Lucas seemed to be looking for the little side road when we passed a beautiful field of sunflowers (used in the production of sunflower oil). just then we met another vehicle coming from the other direction. It was Paco and Marienka from Spain, the second couple who would be spending the night at Kambi Ya Tembo with us. Michael talked with their guide and told them where we were going. Although they were just arriving, they decided to follow us to the village. It turned out we had just passed the turnoff and would need to backtrack just a little.
Right near the sunflower garden we turned off the road driving across a field. This new road, which is really only a small foot path, eventually turned to the right. We stopped to survey our position. We were faced with crossing a small runoff making its way down the hillside. This meant the landscape dropped down to the stream and then up again on the other side. I must say this left Craig and I looking at each other nervously. Not knowing the vehicle very well, it felt as though we could easily get stuck between the two banks. I could tell that Craig had some of the same concerns. To add to the excitement of the situation, we also noticed that on the far bank, the path to the village was blocked with acacia boughs. We wondered if this was some kind of sign. Were we not supposed to bother them today? Sylvestry had told us before that visits to the local villages are arranged in a very general sense. That a village does not exactly know on what days a visitor might arrive at their entrance. They try to cycle through the various villages in order to spread out the intrusion and to keep the visits more authentic. This was clearly a great idea but it still left Craig and I feeling a bit uneasy and unsure of how the villagers might react to our intrusion. Michael was unconcerned, and just went further up the stream to get around it. Fortunately the vehicle easily handled the crossing and we were quickly past the acacia "gate". After only a very short drive we arrived at the village. It felt very strange to arrive in two large vehicles at the village. It just felt like two worlds colliding. The villagers didn't seem to feel the same concern that we did. The small children in particular seemed excited that we had arrived.
This village, named after its leader, "Noonjilalo", was much smaller than yesterday's village. It was situated along the slopes of a small hill and was very picturesque. There were only three houses in the boma. We noticed that two of them had trees on the front of the house. From what we learned yesterday, this was indicating that there had been two circumcisions performed on that day. That was pretty significant given the fact that this village seemed to have a rather small population. This was clearly a very big event for the residents here and we were honored to be a part of it. There were a lot of people wandering around. Most of them had come from neighboring villages to join in the festivities. We suddenly felt very out of place here. We had not yet met other visitors, the local people had yet to be comfortable with the idea of us being here, and Craig and I had yet to meet the chief. This left us feeling a bit out of sorts and unsure how to handle the situation. Just then, Michael wandered off for a minute leaving us thinking, "Ok, what do we do?" Michael came right back and told us that we should enter the acacia fence and join the people inside. Hesitantly we proceeded into the camp smiling at whomever caught our eye. Looking back toward the vehicle we saw Marienka and Paco still talking with their guide. Almost immediately they hopped back into the vehicle and drove off. We were quite surprised that they had decided not to visit, but we assumed they had a long drive and wanted to get settled into the camp right away.
Feeling a bit more comfortable now, the villagers told us that we were fully allowed to take pictures. However, they seemed more shy and standoffish here, and one woman clearly didn't want her picture taken. It took them a while to warm up to us, but when they did they were incredibly welcoming. Michael came to where we were watching and told us to follow him. We walked (very slowly, as is the custom when visiting a Maasai village) down the hill to where the men had slaughtered a bull. They were actively preparing the meat for the ceremony. Just like we had seen at the market, there was a big piece of meat stuck in the fire on a skewer. I asked if I could get a picture and a very friendly elder named Lambala posed with it for the picture. Smiling broadly he asked, "Do you want to taste it?" We tried speaking to him but he stopped us and said "I am not hearing. I depends on writing." He was deaf. You would never know it by the way he spoke English. We indicated that we would very much like a taste of the meat. One of the others climbed a small tree to where more meat was stored (which immediately made both of us think of a rather strange line in a Kristin Hersh song that we always thought was cryptic, but now somehow seemed to fit perfectly: "I could get a piece of meat from a barren tree. Nothing ever spoils on me.") The meat was already cooked and set aside for the evening dinner. The retrieved skewer was put into the fire to heat it up for a few minutes. Michael later told us they also like to cook it a little more thoroughly for our western tastes.
I took photos of some of the men, including a handsome young morani warrior. Afterwards, I showed him the photo and he laughed. Like we had done at the market earlier, we rinsed our hands before eating. We were getting used to the village customs and it came naturally. Michael carved the meat with a machete and handed it out to us. We ate it. This meat from a bull was much more chewy and a little more gristly than this morning's goat had been. Craig was enjoying it immensely and had no problem eating every bit Michael passed his way. At one point Michael even joked that Craig was eating like a lion. After we finished our meat, Lucas rinsed our hands, and they led us back to the boma. As we said our goodbyes and moved away from the fire area we walked through some "remains" lying where the bull had been slaughtered. We were extra glad that we had remembered to wear our hiking boots rather than sandals. We noticed something red being dried and stretched on a small stick. Michael showed us that it was the cow's tail being stretched into the right shape and size to be used as a machete sheath. It was brilliant. They truly make use out of everything they can. We had seen these reddish sheaths everywhere, but had no idea that they were actually cattle tails. As we passed the small area where we had parked, we noticed that a lot of the Maasai were checking out the Land Rover. It amused us to see that they were deriving as much wonder from us as we were from them.
The elders escorted us around the village to try to get the women to be a bit more comfortable about our presence. We got the idea that this village probably doesn't get too many visitors. The elder led us up to where the women were dancing and praying at the tree outside of one of the circumcised teenager's homes. He told us he wanted to give us a chance to get some good pictures. After a few minutes of watching them dance, he said "If Mama wants to try wearing something and dancing like the others..." He organized with the women and they adorned me with some of their necklaces. There was a lot of commotion and good natured laughing and giggling. They pushed me to the center of the circle of women and had me hold onto the trunk of the tree and jump along with them. The children were highly amused by this spectacle. Craig was trying to take pictures while the women and children were crowding around him. They were all trying to see the photos as he was taking them. The elder, gesturing toward the other house, said "They want to play with you. They want to dance another dance." He led me over to the other house with the tree out front. As the dancing and singing is a prayer to help the circumcised teenager recover, it was not wise for them to allow me to participate in front of one house but not the other. They wanted to make sure to follow the same procedure for both of them. A woman then put two necklaces on me and there was much more commotion. Some of the women continued to sing, but many laughed and chatted with each other. I began to jump while holding onto the tree. I have no idea how the Maasai can do this for hours at a time. I was exhausted within minutes. By now we were fully welcomed into the tribe and everyone was having a lot of fun. We were really starting to feel comfortable now. One man even introduced himself as having met us at the other village yesterday. This was all too surreal.
Moving back to where the men had gathered, we entered the area where the men were dancing and singing. We were immediately invited to sit on tree stump stools with the elders. We were feeling positively overwhelmed. This whole experience was simply beautiful. We noticed that one of the elders had a fly swatter made of the hair from a giraffe's tail. We were starting to feel like we understood so much more of what we were seeing. We watched the men continue to dance, sing, and jump. One man still seemed a bit suspicious of us. Every time Craig caught his eye, he would look away uneasily. Craig decided to go right up to him, look him in the eye, and greet him with a hearty "Sopa!" The man immediately smiled back at us and seemed much more at ease. From then on, every time we caught his eye, he would simply smile back at us. It really goes to prove that even when communication might be difficult, making a small gesture of friendliness can go a long way. For quite a while we stood quietly watching the spectacle around us. The men had now congregated in a tight circle, and the women and children would approach them, singing a melody to go along with the men's rhythm section, and then they would retreat. Not all of the children were taking part. Some of the smaller ones were sitting and playing in front of their houses. One adorable small child sat on a stool next to one of the elders to watch the singing and dancing.
We noticed that, as in the other Maasai villages we had visited, smaller children seemed to be dressed in more drab-colored shukas, or in western style shirts and shorts. We were always amazed at the brightness and cleanness of the adults' clothing. The colors were absolutely stunning, especially in the gorgeous late-afternoon light. We were really starting to appreciate the Maasai conception of beauty. It is so different from that which is widely accepted in America. The women were absolutely gorgeous. Most had shaved heads or very close-sropped hair, and though a few wore ochre paint on their faces, most were not made up in any way. Their skin was gorgeous and glowing, and their jewelry (headbands, earrings, necklaces) were very intricate and beautiful. Babies not yet old enough to walk were carried in cloth slings on their mothers' backs.
At one point the clouds began to disperse and Mt. Kilimanjaro became visible behind one of the houses. The setting sun cast such a beautiful light on the surrounding land. The natural beauty that surrounded us was serene. This was just too much to behold. Were we really here? Were we really witnessing this beautiful display right in the shadow of such an impressive mountain? It was quite stunning and something that we will always cherish. In a quick change back to reality, we could hear the sounds of a dog attacking and gnawing on something nearby. We turned to look and could see the fresh skull from the bull that had been slaughtered. It was in the bushes near where the men were dancing. A dog had dragged it out into the open and started gnawing on it. It was a pretty disgusting sight but really highlighted the simple beauty and harmony of village life. Eventually one of the warriors grew tired of the dog's antics and took it away from him. It seems it was detracting attention from the ceremony. Oddly enough, the dog never went back to the bone. I sure can't imagine a dog at home being that well trained that they could ignore such a treat.
Michael and Lucas told us that it was time for us to visit one of the houses. Much to our surprise, they were leading us toward one of the houses that had a tree out front. We looked to Michael and asked if we were really allowed to enter this particular house. He said that it was alright with them and that it was their idea. We felt they must have really become much more comfortable with us to make such a generous offer. We felt honored. We accepted and entered through the darkened doorway. Feeling our way through the little entrance hall, we sat down on one of the bed platforms. Michael asked if we had any questions. Our immediate first question was about the well-being of the circumcised teenagers. We were told that they both were recovering well and that they were both drinking blood for strength. They were 15 years old. We said that we hope that they get better soon. We asked about the owners of the home we were in. Michael told us that the father who owns this house has two wives and five children. There was a small fire going, and they blew on it to get it going again. We found out that this village consists of a total of 2 men, 5 women, and 15 children. The houses are made by the wives, and that they usually only last several months due to termite damage. All of the cooking is done inside the house, and there is only a small window in one wall opposite the doorway. They do not include more windows because they get too cold. We couldn't help but think of all the smoke getting deep into the lungs of the residents though. They explained how small calves are brought inside the house to sleep (for protection). They are kept in a separate room but all still within the framework of a single house. There is also much firewood stored inside the house to keep it dry. We asked how they make a fire, and one of the wives demonstrated how they rub a stick between their palms. Because it is such hard work, they usually keep the fire going overnight and try their best to never let it go out. While we were seated and talking, Michael took a picture of Craig and me. In the photo you can see that a Maasai woman was sitting very close to me. I had no idea she was there before the photo was taken. The light was so dim and our eyes don't adapt as quickly to the darkness. We left the house just as the women were going to prepare porridge for the young children. Some of the children were just getting back from grazing the cattle and were very hungry.
When we got outside, all of the women had spread out their wares. Michael seemed a little embarrassed and tried to tell them that we had already bought quite a few things at a village yesterday. He didn't want us to be under any pressure. But we told him that was ridiculous, we were definitely going to buy things from these people as well. They had been so welcoming to us, it was the least we could do. We looked at all the handmade items. We noticed a bunch of necklaces adorned ith metal spirals. We had seen this spiral design in Kenya as well, and we decided to ask what it signified. Michael said that it simply signified that a ceremony had taken place. This seemed very appropriate, as we had witnessed two separate ceremonies, so we bought one. We were highly amused to see what sort of items they made available for sale. We noticed a Bic pen wrapped in beads and looking quite decorative. We laughed and thought it was cute. A rather amusing commentary on the usefulness of a pen to a family that lives the way these folks do. We bought some small beaded baskets and a bracelet. The prices were reasonable but we still bargained a little bit. In many ways it is a way of life and they enjoy the bartering. It is always a delicate balance but just paying the initial price could even be offensive to them. We were happy to play along while we found items of interest. We bought another fancy wood, bead, and leather tobacco holder. The woman who sold it to us said she was so happy and that God was smiling on her today. That comment made us feel terrific. We were more than happy to help them out and in the process obtain items that we will cherish forever. We probably should have had Tanzanian currency but we still hadn't been anywhere to actually get any. In Kenya, everyone had been more than happy to take U.S. cash. The village here also accepted U.S. dollars, but they immediately ran straight to Lucas to try to exchange it.
Kili was still visible but the sun had gone down quickly. It was time to go, as much as we would have liked to stay. In fact, we had stayed a little later than expected. It was now already 7:00. As we were leaving Michael and Lucas taught us that "Serena" meant goodbye. We said our farewells and there were thank you's and ashe's all around. We felt so moved, so honored that these people kindly let us into their village and into their home to lern more about who they are and how they live. It was an experience that every person should undertake some day. Meeting others, and learning as much as we can about other people and other cultures, helps us to better understand the world that surrounds us. To us, this is what life is all about. On the short walk back to the vehicle we met Moses, a teenager who spoke to us clearly in English. Craig asked if he went to school in Sinya (where we had gone earlier today, near the market) and he lit right up and said, "Yes. Thank you." We got into the Land Rover and Michael had a lot of trouble triying to get his door to latch. After many attempts at shutting it, he finally resorted to holding it shut as he drove. We were parked on a slight incline and Michael couldn't get it into Low 4WD. We had a hard time getting the vehicle turned around and on its way back up the hill. We began to wonder what the Maasai were thinking about the vehicle we were driving. It sure didn't seem like it was going to cooperate with our departure. As it was getting even darker, it seemed like we might indeed be spending the night here. We began to have rather comical visions of all the neighboring Maasai warriors pushing our vehicle up the hill. We would need a photo of that! But before it ever came to that, we were finally able to get enough traction to get up over the incline and back on the main path and driving along.
It was rather eerie to be driving though the savannah at night. There was a crescent moon illuminating the sky. We saw bats, birds, a gazelle, and a small animal (probably just a rabbit) in the headlights. Craig and I were so excited about the ceremony we had just witnessed. The villagers had been so kind and welcoming to us. We now laughed at the fact that we had thought they were standoffish at first. It turns out that it was really us that needed to open up and be more comfortable. The ride was not very far and we arrived back at camp at 7:30. Paco, Marienka and their guide were at the campfire enjoying a drink. Craig was really looking forward to spending some more time around the fire but as soon as we arrived, we were told that dinner was ready. I guess we were rather late. Although some time around the campfire would have been nice, we were glad we were able to spend so much time at the village. We headed straight to the dining room and sat down with Michael. The dining area was dimly lit with small lights and candles. The ambience was perfect and we immediately felt right at home here.
Craig had a Kili beer and I had a glass of red wine. We were served potato leek soup, bread, salad, stir fried beef, beans, rice, and cabbage. It was very tasty but after my big lunch and Maasai beef appetizer, I still didn't have that big of an appetite. We all had a lot of fun chatting. After dinner, Sylvestry poured us each a glass of Amarula, a South African cordial which he said is the Tanzanian honeymoon drink. It tasted kind of like Bailey's, but with a slightly fruity flair. It is made with the fruit of the marula tree, which apparently makes elephants drunk. Sylvestry put the remainder of the bottle on our table, and we enjoyed looking at the nice label with a picture of an elephant. We found it amusing that after a few days in Africa we had really developed our love for elephants. Sylvestery had been standing at our table chatting for a while about all different topics and we were able to ask him anything we could think of. Once again we were feeling so overwhelmed with all of the information we weren't sure of exactly what to ask.
Sylvestry started talking about the Maasai tradition of having multiple wives. I asked him if the wives tended to get jealous. Sylvestry took this opportunity to pull up a chair, indicating that it was to be a long story. He said that the women aren't really jealous at all. He said that they even help to find additional wives for their husbands. If a new wife hasn't yet built her own house, they will both live together in the same house, and the husband will sleep with both of them in the same bed. If a man gets another man's wife pregnant, he will have to pay a fee of maybe 10 cows to the husband. The husband gets to keep the baby as well. If someone kills someone, they need to pay a restitution of 49 cattle. The Maasai have a reputation for being honest and honorable, and they will always pay their fines. If they don't have enough cattle themselves, their friends and family will pitch in to help. I then said "So the women aren't jealous...are the men?" All the Maasai in the room laughed. Sylvestry explained that they are only very jealous when Maasai women go with non-Maasai men. He thinks this fear seems to be mostly AIDS-related though. As we all know AIDS is a huge problem in Africa and everyone knows someone that has died from it. Sylvestery said that although the government has tried to outlaw it, some Maasai tribes still practice female circumcision as a way to help keep their women faithful. This also seems to happen as a misinformed attempt to prevent the spread of AIDS. It really is tragic to hear how misinformation about AIDS helps prolong the problems they are having. He says that many think that AIDS is also a result of rough sex between a man and a woman.
After the terribly sad discussion about the AIDS problem in Africa, Sylvestry began to tell us more about the local people and tribes that live in the country. He told us that there are over 120 different tribes living in Tanzania. The two Kilimanjaro tribes are the Chagga (Sylvestery's tribe) and the Pare (his wife's tribe). We also had a great talk about the Sheldrick animal orphanage, the environment, the history of Kambi ya Tembo, etc. Before we knew it, it had become 11:00 and we figured we'd better get to the tent or we'd be up all night. It was funny how quickly the time passed as we were talking. Craig was still quite lively but I was fading fast and Sylvestry reminded Craig that he "had to get the queen to bed". We finished up the discussion and Lucas escorted us back to the tent. We took nice hot showers and wondered if we would get a visit from Mouse #10 tonight but he was not to be found. Craig finished his beer while I wrote in the journal and we finally went to bed at around midnight.
Watch Maasai women sing and dance as a prayer for circumcised teenagers
(20 second clip)
Watch Maasai men, women, and children join in the
singing and dancing rituals (20 second clip)
Watch Maasai men jump and chant
(20 second clip)
Watch Maasai men, women, and children join in the
singing and dancing rituals (20 second clip)