Yesterday we drove about five hours to visit a Maasai village in the Great Rift Valley. On the way we picked up one of Dr. Wamai’s friends who knew the tribe but was not living with them. She had just had a baby girl and Katie I know you would’ve thought she was so cute. After picking her up we drove further west through some mountains and then plunged into the Rift Valley. It was an amazing view… Driving over the top of the mountains we were able to overlook the valley and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. The longer I am here and the more I see I am realizing that Kenya has to be one of the most natural beautiful countries in the world. We drove down into the valley and stayed on this one paved road for about two hours, crossing paths with packs of baboons, cattle, donkeys, goats, gazelle, and a few big snakes that only our bus driver Charles saw as they slithered across the road. Once we were hailed by two kids motioning with their hands as if they were drinking water and we stopped and Wamai gave them a few bottles as they rushed the bus. One of them was wearing some cloth covering his body and the other was naked, they were probably about 8-10 years old.
The next time we stopped was to meet up with two warriors from the tribe that we were going to visit. They were wearing colorful cloth that looked like a few sheets covering their bodies and plenty of beautiful jewelry all over. One of them, Nicholas, spoke english very well, and the other knew a few words. They had some water and mundazi as they directed us through the trees towards where they live. Mundazi is a sweet ball of bread that is kind of like a plain doughnut in the US but more densely filled with dough. They never eat food like this and we had to stop the bus for one of them so he could throw-up. Just from a little piece of bread! All they eat is goat, cows milk, beef, and maize meal so just this little piece of bread was so unrecognizable to his stomach that he got sick in about thirty seconds. Something so normal for all of the Kenyans in Nairobi was so unfamiliar to these people. Anyways, we drove through the valley, with no road in sight for about an hour until we got to their village.
When we got there we saw the young people dancing and shouting in a circle in the middle of their round settlement. Wamai told us to line up behind him and we did, entering the settlement in single file fashion. We lined up side by side and they danced and hummed in a line, bouncing over to us and then going down the line greeting us individually. Most of the time they would just say “fine” assuming that we said “how are you” even when we didn’t.
They then continued to hop and sing over to where they were dancing before. We followed them and were encouraged to join in with their dance. They young men were humming deep sounds and rocking their bodies and heads back and forth, bending forwards at the waist. It was kind of a tricky thing to do but you could get the hang of it watching them for a little. The girls would sway their heads back and forth gracefully, so that their necklaces (which stuck out from their necks parallel to the ground) rocked up and down. Then the guys started going into the circle in pairs and would jump up about four of five times continuously and at the end would kind of bump in to one another and make a sound like a hyena. I joined in and it was wicked fun! Obviously I couldn’t make the hyena sound though. After dancing we went to the bus to get them sugar and tea that we brought them and then I went to talk to some of he elders who were sitting under a tree.
One of them was obsessed with my watch and he had me take it off so he could try it on. He couldn’t speak english but he told me through another man who interpreted that he had many goats and would trade one for my watch. I was cracking up. I had no use for a goat but I told him maybe for something else, like his knife and leather knife holder. I don’t think he understood me but he wanted it really bad and he said he would give me a bunch of jewelry that he made. I didn’t really want jewelry for it but I ended up trading my watch for his walking stick and the bracelet he was wearing on his wrist.
After we traded, it was like we had just gotten married. His brother interpreted for us while he said in Maasai that we are now friends, we must communicate after I leave and I must come back again to see him. He said when I come back I would be given a goat and many other gifts. For the rest of the day he wanted me to do everything too and kept coming up to me to give me a handshake and pose for pictures.
They killed a goat and in a flap of skin they pooled its blood. Everybody drank the blood out of this dead goat’s skin! It was disgusting! First all but me and a few of the girls in our group did it and then the kids from the tribe did. I couldn’t believe that almost everybody in our group wanted to suck a goat’s blood. The guy who I traded with wanted me to be the first one but there was no way I was doing that. after the goat was slaughtered I tried to make a fire with sticks but was unsuccessful and handed to two sticks off to one of the tribesmen. As the goat cooked over the fire I helped build up the walls of the “boma” (the word for village, I think) by dragging thorn bushes and stacking them up.
Dr. Wamai, Johnothan and I then walked with the chief to see were they got their water. It was a pond about 20×20 feet and it was not deep at all. They are having a drought right now so we were actually standing within the pond, where the water would have risen to during a fruitful rainy season. The pond was covered in green pond scum and the chief was telling us how they have a problem with getting enough clean water. As we were there girls wearing black (meant that hey were recently circumcised) came to gather water in jugs.
We then walked down to see the water tank that a church group had helped them build. It was their back up for when the pond dried out completely. when rain came it was funneled down the slope of the hill into this water tank. The view from the hill above the water tank was incredible and the chief sat with me pointing out and telling me the names of the mountains at the edge of the valley.
We then went back and ate the goat. We all got a strip of meat. I didn’t like it it was too fatty but I forced some of it down and gave the rest to my friend who I traded with.
On the way home we saw a cheetah on the road which was pretty awesome and the driver Charles and our logistics guy Ben seemed very alarmed. They pulled over to tell a guy biking down the road that there was a cheetah ahead. I never knew cheetahs were such threats to eat humans.
We got back on the main road and shortly after we dropped of Wamai’s friend and her baby we got a flat tire. In the middle of Kenya, in the middle of terribly long drive, and in the middle of the night! Hakuna matata is our moto though so we stayed positive and Ben, Charles and the other three guys in our group (who are much more proactive than me) tried to change the tire. Our jack was broken so we had to borrow from another truck that had broken down about 100 yard up the road. We were there for about an hour and a half or so but we finally changed it and got home.
When we got back I was so excited to shower and get all the dirt of me from the day. I went in and it was hot for about two minutes until the electricity went off, an then on, and off again about six times. It didn’t bother me though because the ice cold water felt like a relief from the burning heat in the valley.