Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Kenyan Safari Part 3

Blog number three about our safari in Kenya. 
Don't worry, this is the last one. 
Some things just seem more extreme in Kenya. 
Like jumping. 
Extreme jumpers. 
We went to a Maasai village that was on the national reserve. It was so incredible. They have such a unique culture. And although it has been slightly tainted by westerners coming into Kenya, they still practice a lot of their original unique culture. The greeted us all at the gate with a song/dance/jump. They don't really sing, but they had a low, guttural groan that acted like their bass line, and then they chanted. Sort of like a gregorian chant, only African style. Extremely interesting. 
They invited us boys to come up and join them in their dance/jump. They draped us in Maasai blankets and we had a great time trying to blend in. We didn't really know what they were chanting, but we were somewhat ok at keeping time. We also had a jumping competition. We weren't very good, but they were adamant that we jump. Dillon was forced to jump at least 5 times. They kept laughing since his jumps were more like small scale prances. Ha! 
They taught us how they make fire with a few sticks and some grass. It was pretty impressive how quickly they could start a fire. We were not as successful. They also took us on a tour of the town. They have a fence built around their homes and the fence is used to keep out wild animals. All the men have herds of cows, goats, or sheep that they tend during the day, and at night they bring them inside the fence to protect them.
Their homes are made out of mud, dung, and sticks. The roof isn't really tall enough to stand up in, but the houses all had several rooms, including one room for guests. The rooms were nothing more than an area to sleep, and normally just had beds made of straw or other soft grasses covered in fabric. They didn't look very comfortable, but I didn't try it out. They have to move every 9 years since termites eat their homes and they only last about 9 years. A very nomadic lifestyle. 
We asked them a lot of questions about gender roles and the village. They send all children to school, but they also have chores they do when they are home. Some kids go to boarding school, while others attend school near the village. There weren't many kids hanging around, and the ones we saw were cooking or carrying firewood. 
We spent a lot of time with the son of the chief. He brought out a lion hat that we all tried on (the boys) that he said was from a loin he killed. According to him, all Maasai men must go out into the bush for 2 years to hunt a lion. They paint themselves with red berries so if they get hurt they can't see the blood. They will spend time with other "exiled" young men, and they must kill a lion before they return. Oh yeah, and they must kill the lion with their bare hands. Our safari guide said that this doesn't happen anymore since lions are protected, but he thinks the Maasai still spend time in the bush as a rite of passage. 
After our tour of the village we spent some time in their artisan market to see some of their handcrafts. It was nice to interact with some of the women from the community since our tour guides were all men. Our campsite was really close to the village, so we walked home with our guide. I loved how open and friendly they were. I wish I would have studied a little bit more about their culture before going so I had more questions to ask. Overall, it was incredibly enlightening and fun to spend time in such a unique village. 

On our last day, we got to finally see a rhino - but of course I don't have any pictures of them. They are very illusive, and our guide was pretty honest with us when he said we probably wouldn't get to see one in just 3 days. But on our last day he spotted a few in the distance. We had to get out our binoculars to see them, but there were two of them walking through patches of tall grass.

We really had such an amazing time getting to see everything we did. We drove around a bunch on our last day trying to see some hyenas... but no luck. But we did see a couple of Maasai guys bathing in a creek. They're not animals, but it was something unexpected. :) And I felt super bad for them. I was standing up in the front of our van when we came over a bluff and saw them in the buff. We were only a stones throw away from them too. But they were pretty calm about the whole thing and took a second or two (two really long seconds) to cover themselves up. In the US we are so private about things like... well, like our privates. But I've noticed in East Africa, people are a lot less sensitive. They kind of remind me of doctors. Like they don't look at the human body as porn, but it is just a body and anatomical differences are to be expected, not hidden away. 
And that note about nudity is where this blog ends. After three extremely long and action packed days on our safari, we headed back to Uganda on the overnight bus. We did stop in Nairobi for a bit and we had some ice cream cones at KFC, but nothing so exciting that it can beat Maasai and rhinoceros. 

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