We went out for an early game drive. They had coffee and tea with small cakes to snack on before venturing out. We weren't alone in thinking that it's good to get out early. The restaurant didn't open for breakfast at 6:30, but we were leaving before then. We drank what we could and departed.
It's cool in the morning, and most of us were in long pants with a jacket. They didn't last long, because as the sun came up, the jackets came off. We were returning before breakfast ended at 9:30, but our guide made the most of it.
We ate our fill at breakfast… made to order omelettes, cereals, fruit plates… it was all delicious. We talked earlier about going to a Masai village as opposed to going on a game drive, so Isaac and Daniel picked us up at 10:30 and drove us to a nearby village. The Masai are dressed in bright colors so that they can be seen from far away. It also does something for the livestock they keep, but I missed that part on this tour. Sorry. We watched the men performing a traditional dance done before hinting lion. Scared the crap out of Karen! They jump up and down grunting and leaning forward as they land. They moved closer and closer to Karen who slowly moved behind me. It didn’t help her though, as one of the tribe came closer and closer to her, finally finishing with a loud “hi!” at the end. Kevin, Jack and Casey then joined in, carrying a traditional Masai weapon. We then went inside the village to see the women dance, and Andrea, Tamye, Karen and Katie took part in that. They put beads on them as they continued to sing and dance.
The village itself is made up of two concentric circles made of long thick branches stacked on top of each other The outside circle protects the village from predators, and the inside circle pens the livestock at night. Their huts themselves are made of dung, and are built by the women. They’re pretty short, too, because my shoulders were level with most of the roofs. We stepped inside to take a look around, but it’s difficult to see in complete darkness, though it was broad daylight outside.
They showed us how they made fire using two sticks and some brush… pretty impressive actually. I think I’d have been impressed if I was ever a boy scout!
It was shortly after this that Karen pointed out that the men from the village were rather fond of Katie. I later found out that we could have got 10 cows for her. Isaac was kind enough to point out that her computer skills could bring it up to 13. Although tempting, we moved on into the village to barter with the craftsman that make all kinds of trinkets. Bracelets, necklaces, salad spoons, masks, animal carvings… it was very similar to the masai market we went to in Kisumu. Boy do these guys overcharge! They followed us everywhere collecting everything we showed any interest in, then tried to charge us a price for groups of pieces. This is where, once again, Jim’s spirit took over. You see, I’ve seen Jim work his magic with the people in the market in Kisumu, but have never really been as flamboyant about it as he was. He’d get people laughing, and large groups would surround him as he haggled over pennies. “It’s all part of the fun of it,” he would say to me. I could hear his voice in my head as I did the same.
The masai would write a price on their arm, and I would erase the last digit. They’d look at me as if I was nuts, then the haggling starts. I would say things like, “For that price, you can no longer be rafiki yangu (my friend)!” Crowds gathered, both from our group as well as from within the village. I didn’t realize until we were almost done that we were surrounded by about 30 people. That’s where the height comes in handy. I had an absolute ball, and the look on everyone’s faces reminded me of the look that must have been on my face as I watched Jim in action. It was awesome.
I thought another moment about the 13 cows, but Katie said, “I love the people, I love the area, but the dung huts… not happening.” We left with Katie, not the cows.
We got back to Sarova Mara, had lunch and relaxed before the last game drive of the day at 3:30. After that, we were going to have a bush dinner. They drive us out into the mara and serve us dinner. We didn’t know what we were in for, but I’ll get back to that in a minute.
The sun had gone down by the time we left for the bush dinner. We pulled up to a roaring fire in the middle of nowhere. You couldn’t see more than 30 feet in any direction with the exception of the tables set for our dinner. Lanterns hung on the poles that supported a hug canope that would keep the rain off. The rain never showed, but the winds certainly did. Thankfully they died down as the night progressed.
We stood around the fire for a bit, and talked to a masai warrior who told us what was happening. He had us say something in masai, but I can’t remember what it was. We later learned that it was, “come out.” After we shouted, about 15 warriors came running out of the darkenss yelling and screaming. They immediately began their “we’re hunting lions” dance. The warrior that scared Karen earlier in the day was there, and he smiled a brilliant white tooth filled grin as he came by her. She was once again hunddled behind me as they ran from the trees. Tamye was on the other side of me doing much the same. No sooner had they arrived, they disappeared into the dark. They were our protection for the evening. They would prevent any animals from wandering into the area where we sat. Thankfully, they succeeded.
The food and drink was delicious, but the conversation was even better. Isaac and Andrew joined us for dinner, which made it even more special. We told stories of our adventures thus far, and mixed in stories about Jim. It was another wonderful evening. I was sorry that Andrea and Kevin couldn’t be there, even though the wind would have made them both very cold. I always feel better when Andrea’s near, so I was excited when we finally headed back to Sarova. Kevin was feelling a little better, but was still not interested in eating. We filled them in on what happened at dinner, and they filled us in on their antics while we were gone. Apparently, the animals around the tent were pretty active, so they were happy to have us home, too.
Our last game drive is tomorrow morning. We decided to start early so that we could clean up before leaving the hotel.
Kevin was feeling worse and worse, and his stomach ache was joined by a migraine, so Andrea decided to stay back with him while we went to the bush dinner. She’s a good mom. Really. I’m a very lucky man.