Our day started at 8:30 am, when we met at school to leave for the Maasai village, which is a rather touristic destination, but the closest we could get to learning about the Maasai people. Upon arrival, we browsed the jewelry stands while the the Maasai, wearing vivid reds and blues, were getting ready to put on a dancing show for us. Some of them were selling their traditional jewelry. Many of us had our first bargaining experience here and many of us left with beautiful Maasai jewelry.
Next we gathered in the center of the village, as the Maasai showed us a traditional Maasai dance, featuring percussion from the jewelry, singing, and a jumping dance. A few of us chose to join in; for women this included putting on the traditional beaded necklaces and hats worn by women during this dance. For men, sticks were given out in order to assist their jumping.
We were given the opportunity to explore the houses of the Maasai people. The houses were very small, resembling what we might call a hut, made out of sturdy wooden frames and covered with a waterproof type of cement made from a mixture of cow dung and dirt. A fire burned in the center of the house, spreading a thick smoke throughout the enclosure. There was also a large wooden bed frame and a cow hide on top. There were small holes in the walls that provided some light and ventilation. The roofs were made out of plastic tarps and grasses. We concluded this visit by finalizing jewelry purchases and saying “Asante” (thank you) to the Maasai people who welcomed us into their homes.
Our next stop was to visit Didi the Mawanda guide, educator and naturalist, on a local hiking trail. He was dressed in traditional Mawanda garb and was painted in what appeared to be dirt and ash. Didi gave us some valuable information about the medicinal properties of the local flora. The first stop we made on the trail was for him to demonstrate the smoking of elephant poop. According to him, the effects of smoking elephant poo heightened his senses allowing him to walk barefoot through the woods. Elephants have trouble digesting nutrients, so all of those vitamins get passed on to the consumer of their poo. This process named the elephant: Mother of the Jungle.
We continued our walk to a spot where he showed us how to cure a snake bite, heating and chewing bark. We made more stops like this, where his animal noises, and comical sound effects kept us interested as he described the natural processes of the outdoors. Our walk ended with the explanation of the baboon, or the “Boss of the jungle.” He told us how they can outsmart the other animals, and in turn outlive them.
We came home exhausted, enlightened, mind-blown and in a good mood from the enlightening experiences of the day!
by Ruby and Mira