Eleyo Masai village visit
Trip Start Jun 11, 2011
19Trip End Jun 26, 2011
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A Masai village is actually just one family. In this case it is a man, his three wives, and all of their children living together with their cattle, sheep and goats. The Masai people are historically nomadic and have refused to stop living as such. They have no interest in money - or so we are told, but after seeing one with a mobile I wasn't so sure they could buy a rate plan with a cow. Their wealth is held in their cattle. Their housing lasts 5 or 6 years and then they move on to the next watering hole with their herds. The boys drive their animals to the watering hole every day and tend to their herds. The girls and women do all the other work, including retrieving the drinking water, building the houses and cooking
The village we visited is involved in a community project. The tour operator helps them with the money we pay for our tour and the biggest benefit is that the children can go to school, which is very rare for Masai. Since they know the funding comes indirectly from the tourists, they are very welcoming when we arrive.
As we drove to the village we drove over bumpy roads through a seemingly lifeless plain of dirt. The only thing to look at was the distant western wall of the Great Rift Valley, rising up out of nothing and truly creating a wall between us and the land that should be another continent on the other side. We also passed the odd Boabab tree, which look like a tree turned upside down, with its roots sticking into the air as you always see them without leaves. But next to the village we marvelled at one with leaves and learned a bit about the very interesting tree.
The village greeted us with their welcome song and dance, which was amazing to watch. I felt a bit foolish pointing a camera at them while it was happening because it seemed so sincere, but since everyone else was snapping away I did join in a bit. Wolfi made a movie which is probably more interesting
We followed them into the village as they danced and sang, leading us there where the smaller children stood around staring at us and them. Then the dancers had us join in. First, the men in our group joined the sons of the village in jumping very high while holding their shepherd's stick. Overall the Masai men were much higher jumpers. For the women, we had a much easier time. We just had to let the Masai women put adornments around our neck then sway back and forth with them while they sang. It was fun, and the children watching crept closer and closer when they realized they might get their photo taken as well.
Once the song and dance was over we got to walk around the village and look in their mud houses. It is amazing what they can fit in their little round huts. In a finished house we saw they had bunk beds built into the wall as well as a sofa, and a fire burned in the center. It was big enough that all 20 of us fit inside (some villagers and our entire group), though there wasn't much room to spare.
The women also showed us a new house they were building and how they use only materials found in their environment to do so, such as mud, cow dung, strong grass-like leaves and certain herbs to keep out the flies
Next we got to watch the exciting process of a cow getting milked before the livestock were driven out to the field by the young boys for grazing. The girls also showed us some jewelry they made with beads. They used to use wood but now they do trade for plastic beads in the market. Most of the costumes the women were wearing for the welcome song included this type of jewelry.
We left the village soon after that and made our way to Ngorongoro Conservation area. On the way out to the highway we passed the Masai boys driving their cattle to the watering hole a few kilometres away. The cattle stretched out in a long line that filled our line of vision from end to end.