Alchemist in Tanzania, Day #1. Massai Village

23 02 2013

Breakfast in Arusha.  Not exactly roughing it.

Breakfast in Arusha. Not exactly roughing it.

We awoke to a beautiful day in Arusha (see previous post), complete with a huge spread of fresh fruits and local fare.  Passion fruit, papaya, mango, pinapple, watermelon, yams, cassava, and fresh squeezed watermelon juice.  To minimize the chance of getting sick, Jenn warned not to eat any raw fruit or veggies that weren’t peeled by yourself.  For the most part, this breakfast fit the bill, though I ate salad today as well.  Having eaten Mexican street food in the past, I have a misguided sense of confidence in the fortitude of my GI tract, which may at some point be reconsidered when I’m languishing over the porta-potty on Kili.

Goats, roads, & kids in Tanzania

Goats, roads, & kids in Tanzania

After breakfast, we boarded retro-fitted Land Cruisers and headed toward the Masaai region.  The roads along the way were peppered with kids herding goats and cattle.  I considered showing Syd and Jake this photo as a warning of what their future would look like if they didn’t go to school and study.  Also, to demonstrate just how blessed their lives are.  But then I realized that skipping school to frolick with goats would be a dream come true, and these Masaai children could be the luckiest kids on Earth.

Getting photos of the Masaai can be a tricky business. Many of them believe that photographs steal a little bit of their soul, so they get a little sore about cameras being pointed at them.  But Doug Pitt and John Bongiorno are considered “elders” in the tribe, so once we got into the heart of the village, photos were okay.

Rutted roads and river crossings was the theme of the drive

Rutted roads and river crossings was the theme of the drive

The road to the Masaai was kinda dry

The road to the Masaai was kinda dry. The Land Cruiser ahead of us left a Mad Max-like plume of dust.

Kili Day 2

We were greeted in the Masaai Village like celebrities.  VIP’s from the Masaai Community were on hand to give us a tour of one of the water drilling projects.

What is the significance of water to these people?  Lack of access to clean water is the leading cause of death in this, and many other areas, around the globe. 2 out of 5 children don’t make it out of infancy due to waterborne disease.  This is despite the efforts of the local women and girls, whose job it is to walk up to 12 miles, EACH WAY, to bring water (sometimes clean, sometimes not) to their village.  This is a full time occupation, and it leaves no time or opportunity for these girls to pursue even the slightest glimmer of an education.

The dire water situation was really brought home when we passed a boy who was sitting next to a murky, putrid puddle in the road formed from the collection of some recent rain in a tire track.  We watched in horror as he casually dipped his hand into the puddle and had a drink along side the goats he was tending.  It was heartbreaking.

A water well like the ones pictured above can produce clean well water for up to 20 years.

A thousand Masaai people, some traveling great distance by foot, greeted us at the grand ceremony. We walked in among the greeting party, dancing and swaying with the songs of the tribes. We were treated to a performance of song and dance before each of us was recognized for our contribution and purpose on the trip.  I, for one, got a rousing applause for, if nothing else, a name they could easily pronounce. Wuuuuuuuuuu!

After the ceremony, we had a barbecue picnic and cold drinks.

With our bellies full, we loaded back into the Land Cruisers, heading to the large, animal filled crater known as Ngorongoro.

Doug and the Boulder Crew

Doug and the Boulder Crew

We got in late in the evening, and gobbled up a delicious curry dinner. Having spent a large part of the day on the dusty roads to get here, Steve and I were eager to shake out the legs and get the juices flowing.  Doug chuckled when we asked where a good place to run would be in the morning.  Apparently, you can’t go off the grounds without an armed escort.  Reason being, there is a high likelihood you will be eaten, or trampled, or mauled.

“Did you see the water buffalo and the pack of massive hyenas as we pulled up to the gate?”

Lions and leopards also hang out around here.  Unnecessarily, we were informed we wouldn’t be able to outrun a lion. Of course Steve and I had the same thought.  We don’t have to be able to outrun the lion, we just have to be able to outrun each other.

Early morning departure for the crater.  Given the option to sleep in, we all voted to leave at daybreak, which is the time that the animals are most active, and our best chance of catching a leopard or a big game hunt.  We’ll head to the Serengeti after that for the safari.

Starting a badminton revolution

Starting a badminton revolution

Masaai Footwear.  Recycled Motorcycle Tires.  Alchemist is looking into it.

Masaai Footwear. Recycled Motorcycle Tires. Alchemist is looking into it.

Walking in with the Masaai greeting party

Walking in with the Masaai greeting party

Dressed for war. . . and partying.

Dressed for war. . . and partying.

More to come.

Solar Powered Water Storage Tank

Solar Powered Water Storage Tank

This mighty little pump cranks out 1500 liters per hour

This mighty little pump cranks out 1500 liters per hour

The Tribe Elder showing off the super clean water

The Tribe Elder showing off the super clean water

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One response

25 02 2013
Amy

Following, looking forward to more of this trip. Have fun, stay safe :)

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