Mid afternoon, the sun was breaking out again as we approached the Maasai village that we passed earlier in the day. We drive up to the gate of the village which is in a lonely expanse of a valley and are greeted by the chief, Joseph, who speaks English like he was Harvard educated. He has a very sophisticated demeanor and is very personable.
Note: I had heard that the Maasai do not like to have their pictures taken. So what do we do, get the cameras out... I wouldn't miss these Kodak Moments. Above is one of my favorite. They are a very beautiful people and from what I understand when you take their picture it takes something from their soul. The dichotomy is that if you want to get the camera out, they stick their hand out for some $. Ok, what’s that all about? Where’s your soul? Here in this village, for a fee, $20 we can enter the village which is authentic in every aspect and take as many pictures as we want as well as get a guided tour by the village chief. I’m happy for this as I really wanted to get some great native pictures, up close and personal
“Residents of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area are also trying to secure their rights to the land which they have inhabited for centuries, and to ensure that they get a fair share of the money raised from this highly popular tourist attraction. Survival is supporting the Maasai in their struggle. “Cattle people © Survival 1998
I switch over to video on my digital camera as the young men and women come out of the gate of the village singing and dancing to greet us and welcome us into their village. This was awesome, for me. I don’t care if it was a bit staged, it was the real deal. Their colorful garb and jewelry lit up my camera.
We entered the village with the chief as he explained what we were to expect on our visit. We were entertained with another display of singing and dancing. The young men were doing this dance wearing their red capes holding spears and jumping high in the air singing and chanting. The women were doing a similar dance laughing and singing as they too were jumping as their necklaces were flying off their heads, they were cracking up over this. There were several really small toddlers just hanging with the women. The little ones looked dirty and barefoot.
The chief took us into one of the huts made of mud. He explained the design which is very primitive with pen inside for goats or calves on one side of the small cook fire. The small pot on the fire had milk all skimmed over and full of flies. This is their meal. They depend on milk as their diet. Ok, all you athletes, think about it.
On the other side of the fire was two spaces separated by some sticks, the adult bedroom and the kid’s room with dirt floors and mud walls with only a tiny peep hole in the ceiling
for light and exhaust.
The inside of the village had another walled pen for their cattle, a very prized commodity. Surrounded by the pen is a huge display of their crafts. The young men (sales men) of the village herded us around the through the women’s “craft show”. Very impressive and I couldn’t help buy (3) really nice necklaces; I wear one now. The men tell me it’s a lion’s tooth. “I wasn’t born yesterday, guys!” I’m thinking maybe a plastic tooth that looks real. It really doesn’t matter if it’s real or not. I was really glad we made this stop. I got some very impressive pictures of the people and a taste of their culture.
We pile back into the Rover ready to lay back for a while. It still wasn’t that long ago we were on the mountain and we still are in recovery mode and the thought of dinner, beer and a warm shower is inviting. After another tourist stop along the way (another cigarette?) we got back to camp where Joyce promised us a traditional African dinner. We were ready but we had to make another beer run, to return our empties and replenish for dinner.
We piled back into the truck again headed back to Mto Wa Mbu (mosquito) town for a beer run but this time we wanted to get some local ground coffee. I guess this was no easy task (the coffee part). We managed to get our beers fine and purchased 2 half pints of African whiskey. We went to several places to find ground coffee. No go! We finally ended up in the village market place. Again, shades of Korea and Mexico decades ago. We did some buying and I got a good deal on some tapestries as well as some good pictures
When we got back, Joyce had dinner waiting for us. It was the usual but I guess the traditional food instead of potatoes will be Ugali which is baked porridge from corn with a variety of veggies and meat with something that looked like a tortilla. Another fine meal!
Afterwards, from our fine meal, we are writing to catch up on our journals while finishing up the beer and sampling the African liquor. Party on!
I hear African music in the distance. “Where is this coming from?” I decide to investigate after loading my wine glass with whiskey and headed off out of camp to investigate. Good move or bad move? This led me to a building on the other side of the swimming pool (we never used, is this camp?) where there was a large room packed with people watching a show. Bar chairs lined the perimeter and the campers were there watching these young Africans (boys and girls) doing music and traditional dance in costume. Very cool! They are incredible athletes jumping and doing balancing acts with a background of real African drums. These kids were good! Of course, they were peddling their CD.
I had to go back to camp to bring back the boys to see this one. Might be last call! And as it turned out, it was the last act. For us too! We went back to camp and finished off our drinks.
It rained during the night, but the sleep was excellent! Alcohol induced? Tomorrow is our last safari before the marathon!
2/25 Saturday, Lake Manyara
We left Mto Wa Mbu (means mosquito river) at 7:50 AM and were the first to enter the Lake Manyara Park, which is just outside the village where we stayed. As we entered the
park the first thing we noticed is how suddenly tropical the vegetation is and how tall the trees are.
We immediately spot a Water Buck and there are 3 elephants (one baby, just precious) really close to us on the road. They don’t seem to mind us so close.
The giraffe we see are different from the others we spotted in Tarangarie. These are the Maasai Giraffe which have different spots. We also spotted impala, antelope, dick-dick, saddle back stork, a goliath heron, as well as hippo in a pool where we got some good pictures.
We left the park about 11:30 to go back to camp where we had to break down camp and pack up the tents and beds. At this point I’m through looking at wildlife and we are all three thinking about tomorrow’s marathon. It’s not easy shifting gears like this, being in the woods and having to think about running 26.2 miles tomorrow. Oh yes, did I mention that I have diarrhea? I’m taking Imodium and Cerylyte at lunch that Joyce made us.
We packed up and hit the road for Moshi at 12:40 PM. We saw zebra, giraffe, and ostrich along the road back. As a very disturbing scene we came upon a donkey in road which was recently hit and run by a vehicle and was trying to get up from the road but because of broken bones couldn’t rise off the road, struggling.
It isn’t surprising I suspect. The Masai keep their cattle and donkeys along the highway and I wonder how many fall victims to the tourist vehicles.
Still traveling along a smooth road on a hot sticky afternoon, we came to a police stop, who knows where. We were all questioned and it seemed routine, but hadn’t encountered this before. Looking out the window, I see Dousan slip him a bribe. So what’s that all about? A bribe for what? We have subsequently learned just how corrupt this government is, but as tourists, we really don’t see it. So our new friends tell us and I’m sure they are not proud of it. It’s their way of life, representing the big divide between the have’s and have not’s. the local poverty is really something to behold. We always make it a point to have a guide (body guard) with us whenever we are in town….. outside the bush!
On our way back we stopped at a gift shop that we hit on our way out. I had my eye on some tanzanite stones. Oh, you say ~ $400 a carrot? It’s a bit out of my price range, but the stones are incredible. The stone is a very light turquoise stone which is only found in the world here in this part of Tanzania mined near the airport.
I found some Tanzanite stone set in earrings for $185. I offered $150 and settled on $155. I think Donna will love them.
We decide to stop in Arusha for another ATM stop, this time to get some money so we can give tips to our diver and cook. Again, we come into town and it is Saturday afternoon and very busy. Traffic is heavy on the only paved road running through town. Off to the west the sky is growing very dark, near Mt. Meru, where rain is inevitable.
Even in this civilized fairly westernized setting we got accosted by hawkers.
We hit the bank and dodged the sellers. As we reached the truck, we had to get some locals to push start the vehicle in the city streets. Very weird!
Leaving Arusha, we only encounter light showers. Off to our left as we head out on the highway, we get some great views of Kili and her sister Mawenzi (17,000’) covered with snow. Much more than we saw before!
As we came into Moshi we ran into a wedding party. What a kick this was because the party was parading around one of the town traffic circles (roundabouts) in a caravan of vehicles with trucks filled with musicians playing music. This must have been a relatively
affluent family because the women were dressed in gowns like you might see here at home and the men were coat and tie. Again it seemed like such a dichotomy in this poor country.
Our next goal before reaching our hotel was to stop at the Key’s Hotel (on our way) to pickup our marathon race packs. Oh, yes, tomorrow we run 26.2 miles in a race (for some). The Expo seemed a bit disorganized for such a small race (by our standards). After getting our numbers and packets we joined our driver to return us to our hotel.
We were supposed to meet with our hike guides Mohamed and Joseph our cook so we could give them some left over gear and clothing we were going to donate to them for the porters and guides in their future team adventures. As we climbed the week previous we noticed many shirts, sweatshirts and jackets that were clearly USA origin. We met them close to 5 which was our planned meeting time. We were also planning to meet tomorrow someplace along the marathon course.
Our race time tomorrow is 6 AM, meaning that we had to get up 4 to 4:30AM so we could catch the shuttle bus at 5 AM from the hotel. We ordered bar food (lots of rice) and retired early. I don’t even know what time we hit the beds but I do record it was a great night’s sleep. Oh yes, we had to get our race gear ready, with numbers pinned on, drop bag ready with water and GU ready. After all we had been through with our previous adventures, preparing for a marathon was kid stuff. We still had a big day ahead of us and
26.2 miles on already hammered legs. We were ready