Our Monday began with a visit from a troop of baboons which crossed paths with 4 Adventurers on their way from breakfast at the Mara Chui camp. We were also informed shortly thereafter that a cackle of hyenas were on the property last night. Additionally, a solitary elephant came near the night before.
We were ignorant of these night events as our morning call times have required early bedtimes. It seems as though the camp’s insistence that we have Masai security with us after dark at all times was given with sincerity and experience.
As for these Masai men who perform security, they offered to spend some time with us this morning. One of them, James (Masai name Lothrap), agreed to walk with us to his village. On this short 15 minute journey he pointed to various plants and trees and described how his people would use them as natural alternatives to items as varied as sandpaper, mosquito repellent, and glue.
After arriving at his camp, we were introduced to the Chief’s son who gathered some of his relations to perform a Welcome dance for the 5 Adventurers.
We were offered an opportunity to dance and to demonstrate our great athletic abilities by jumping. We were told that if anyone could jump higher than the Masai that he would be entitled to marry a Masai girl of his choosing. Suffice it to say that Brian’s jumps were half-hearted because he already has the best wife already.
A light rain fell which indicates a somewhat early start to the rainy season. The Chief’s son offered to take us into a Masai house and continued to provide us with some deeper knowledge of the Masai culture and practices.
One of the villagers showed us the traditional method of starting a fire. A combination of a hardwood spinning a hole in a softwood creates an ember from the tip of the hardwood which falls off onto the blade of the machete held under the cedar.
The kids asked a few questions to demonstrate their appreciation for this special school day but Tiffany and Brian asked a range of questions. Eventually we backed off and let them ask us a question or two. One person asked us about the wild animals in California (“did we have lions?”) and another about crops grown there – they had heard of the abundance of the Central Valley.
The visit to the Masai village was our coolest Adventure of the day but not the longest. That dubiius award went to the van trip back to Nairobi from the Masai Mara. We left the village at 9a and arrived near the Nairobi international Airport 10 hours later. Ugh.
The roads here are not great and with recent rains we had two specific mud flying moments of the day which thankfully never fully stopped us. At one point however we were fully stopped on a 2 lane mountain pass for nearly 2 hours. Kenyans can be creative about moving forward in traffic and at times this 2 lane road became 4 as the shoulders were used liberally.
We watched one desperate backpacker abandon his Land Cruiser truck for a seat behind a motorcycle in hopes of weaving through stuck traffic and making his international flight.
When we look back at this date we will surely only remember the wonderful two hours spent with the Masai villagers this morning.