Friday, June 1, 2007
Our last day in Kenya. We are ready to go home, I think, and none of us are looking forward to the trip...
We spent the morning doing last minute shopping at Baboo's - a friend of Stanley's who has a nice craft store. Lunch at Java House and a "Coke Light" (Kenya equivalent of Diet Coke). Frantic packing. It was funny, because I had had a cold coffee drink AND a Coke, and I was wired up. My friends were teasing me -- I couldn't find things and then I had to pack and unpack to find them. It was pretty OCD on my part I guess.
We had dinner at HEART and loaded up, then we were off to pick up Stanley and on to the airport. Stanley will be in Nairobi for a few more days. He tries to make more connections for Tumaini everytime he goes.
What can you say about a 32 hour trip home? 8.5 hours to Heathrow, 5 hr layover, 10.5 hrs to Cali. I felt wrecked. I will give kudos to Virgin Atlantic however. Very nice flight, good entertainment (lots of movies), they fed you every so often, and came around with water and juice at least once an hour which really helped with the dehydration that usually bothers me on the plane. About half way through the flight, I said to one of my friends, "Just shoot me now..." I did the reverse of the jetlag program going out. We slept a few hours from Nairobi to Heathrow, and then stayed awake until Los Angeles (with some difficulty). (Later note -- it actually worked pretty good. I was a little tired the first week, but did not nap at all. I still slept alright and did not wake up at all wierd hours).
At least when we got home, it was smooth sailing through customs and Ron (Laureen's husband) was soon there to pick us up in the new Pathway bus! It felt good to be riding on the right (literally) side of the road again. We were home by 6 p.m.
I was high for days and I still can't stop talking about the trip. Ask me a question and I can go on for hours. When we visited Texas, I talked about the trip for two hours the first time I met Laura's boyfriend Juan Pablo. He's a traveler, so he seemed to appreciate my enthusiasm -- thanks JP for your tolerance...
And thanks again to all those who have followed my journey and to those who contributed to my "special need" fund. Who knew it was going to be education for two very special young people? We were thinking goats when I went...God had different plans -- I was blessed to be an "instrument of his peace." My prayer always.
5/2/07 - early!
Thursday, May 31, 2007
After lunch, we met with Ole Kuya (also known as Charles -- his English name) who gave a very interesting hour and a half lecture on Maasai culture. There was way too much to write about here and many books have been written about their culture, but here are some interesting points:
- The Maasai believe that they were put on earth by God with their cattle, which are a sacred part of their culture and very important to them. They believe that all the cattle in the world belong to them. I was showing Joel some of the pictures I had taken in Masii, and showed him a picture of a Brahma cow, and he goes "hmmm, nice cow..." -- I loved it.
- They have migrated from northern Kenya to the south over many years, due to pressure from other people groups and colonists, most of them are now in the south of Kenya and the northern part of Tanzania
- Maasai "warriors" are a certain age group of young men (I think about age 15-22, approximately) who do not cut their hair for seven years and during that time, spend most of it herding the cattle and "learning to be men" as Ole Kuya says. After this period of time, they "graduate" in a huge ceremony and become "young elders" who are then allowed to cut their hair and marry. Joel was a "young elder."
- First marriages are always arranged by the fathers of the young men and women. Men may have more than one wife and the group practices male and female circumcision. Joel said to me that he is only going to have one wife now that he is a Christian. Ole Kuya says that you have to have many cows to be able to have additional wives. The Kenyan State is fighting against the practice of female circumcision.
- Their religion is monotheistic, based on a system of sacrifices. It seems that this is why Christianity is appealing to the Maasai -- the idea of Christ as the Lamb of God makes a lot of sense to them. Joel says that there are many churches in his area.
Both Joel and Ole Kuya went to a local town to go to school for primary, but left at about sixth grade as far as I could tell. They are both very well spoken and extremely intelligent, but have not been exposed to much of the outside world. They both read and write English very well and asked us to write to them. I have not yet had an opportunity to write but hopefully will soon. These two young men were one of the most interesting and unexpected joys of the trip.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Last night, after dinner, Joel and about 7 or 8 of his Maasai warrior buddies came to the lodge to chant and jump. These guys can jump 18 inches to two feet off the ground from a flat footed stand. They were great. Afterwards, we talked to another warrior, Ole Kuya (son of Kuya), who told us a lot about Maasai culture -- he gives a daily lecture about Maasai culture. We said that we would come tomorrow. He and Joel told us that all the chanting and jumping was developed when they were still raiding other groups of Maasai for their cows, they were egging each other on...it was a kick.
After we were done last night, Alex said, we'll leave tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. That meant we needed to get up at 5:30 a.m. Ohhh. I did not sleep well the first night, either. Coffee was the first item on my agenda.
Once we were out, though, it was gorgeous and beautiful. This morning, we headed in a different direction, towards a little plateau (or a pla-too, as the Kenyans call them) -- we saw giraffes (lots), zebras (more) and a lone wildebeest hanging out with the gazelles. He must have been left behind because in June and July, they have huge herds of wildebeest that migrate from Tanzania. I guess it is really an astounding sight, and many people go up in the hot air balloons to watch them. Apparently many Americans come in those months to see the migration. According to Alex, this is a bit of the "off "season, but you could have fooled me. We still saw huge numbers of all different types of animals...Today we saw many elephants all day long -- there was a small herd of different ages that hung out around the elevated boardwalk area -- Norm was fascinated and spent most of his time out there before we went out again in the afternoon. Other animals and birds this morning -- dik dik (a very small gazelle), Grant's gazelles, Gray-crested Crane, Yellow-throated Longclaw (like a meadowlark), Egyptian goose, Wattled Plover and the Lappet-faced Vulture (very ugly).
While we were looking for the hippo in the pool at the "Hippo Bar", Joel and Ole Kuya came to find us. We found that they really enjoyed talking with us and when we were just "hanging out", they would show up! I think many of the tourists treated them as "exhibits" but we were all very interested in them as people and they in us. They mentioned that they really did not like all the posing for pictures so I only took one of them (see above) -- they were enjoying Gloria's MP3 player -- Ole Kuya (on the left) wanted her to send him one! They really liked the Latino music she had and were fascinated by the whole thing. They had never heard most of the different kinds of music she had on her player.
Another meal! Lunch! I'm starting to feel like the lioness in that picture!