Thursday, October 23, 2008

African Safari - Days 3 and 4

Well my phone is almost dead now, so I probably won't be sending out anymore emails until I get back to civilization (Nairobi) tomorrow night.

It is Wednesday afternoon here and I am getting ready to hop on a little puddle-jumper prop-plane (don't ask me what I am thinking - getting on something like this in Africa) for a 40 minute flight to Maasai Mara National Park.  I will be camping there tonight and returning to Nairobi tomorrow night, then off to Cairo Friday morning.

So, day two was even more amazing than I could've ever imagined.  Here are a few highlights:

1. The local Maasai chief's son has taken a particular interest is me. :) He is 24, VERY black, speaks 4 languages but doesn't know how to read/write, and is such a kind, funny, smart young man! He calls me "Mamma Maasai"...haha...I have no idea why but it makes me laugh every time!!  He asked my guide if he could go with us on our morning game drive through the park, and since I said I didn't care, he got to come along. 

My guide is good...I mean REALLY good, but John (the chief's son) who was born and raised around this park was unbelievable!!  I mean I wouldn't EVER spot some of the animals that they see!  We saw a big pack of giraffes in the distance and I REALLY wanted to go see them closer. But they were in Maasai territory (Johns territory) outside the park where there are no roads.

So GUESS WHAT?!  John took me ON FOOT running through the rocks and trees of the Maasai territory to get as close as we could to them!  Seriously!  You really aren't allowed to get out of the car, but my guide agreed to let me go if I went with John since it was his land.  The older couple couldn't go (they are 74 and 75) and the guide had to stay with the car and wait.  So it was just us in the middle of nowhere - running after 6 girraffes - over rocks, in flip-flops (can you say 'unprepared' for Africa?)!!  It was UNbelievable...I can't even describe it! I have lots of pictures... :)

(He gave me his necklace)

2.  That afternoon, we were supposed to do another game drive, BUT I GOT TO GO visit John's local Maasai village!!   We had to walk quite a ways, so again the older couple I am with decided they didn't want to do it.  So GUESS WHAT?! Just us walking through the African bush to get to his home village! 

(Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance)

(These previous three pictures are the entrance to his village.  It is completely surrounded by prickly thorn bushes to keep the animals out!)

It was about an hour walk outside the park and the whole way he kept pointing out different tracks of animals and when they were from. 


And he would PICK UP all kinds of POOP and try to show it to me and tell me which animals it was!! I finally said, "Good Lord, John! Quit picking that shit up!! That is disgusting!!" He just laughed, but I don't think he really got it. 

Anyways, when we got there, I met one of his 5 sisters (and her baby), and his mother...

...I saw where/how they live in little huts made from cow dung and acacia trees, no running water or electricity.  John actually took me INSIDE his own hut! It is so tiny and pitch black and HOT in their little huts.  I just can't imagine living like that!! 

AND - to top it off - John got a bunch of the people in his village to teach me how to do the traditional "jump" dance after they did a welcome song/dance for me!!  John had my camera, so I have some pictures of it. You seriously won't believe it...its me and like 20 Maasai warriors all dressed up doing there jumping and chanting...I honestly was a little scared - i think you can probably see the fear in my eyes. For all I knew, they were chanting and dancing because they were going to EAT ME!!  John was just laughing andf kept coaxing me out there closer to them...CRAZY...  I can't even describe the sounds...the grunting/humming and chanting of their songs - seriously wish I had a video camera for this trip! 

(eyeing those spears...)

(Can I get away from these guys now??)

We hung out in the village for a little while, I bought some jewelry off of the women, and walked around (it's not very big at all) while all the guys were really trying to impress me and get my attention, haha!  One of them showed me how he could start a fire with just sticks and grass, another was showing off the cow bladder container he had to keep water in...I was impressed with both! :)

Most of the little kids, who I wanted to play with, ran from me. John said they haven't seen many white people!! They were so cute, and it just SO unbelievable how they live off the land and there animals with NOTHING else - not even water! Talk about an experience (and an eye-opening one at that)!! It doesn't get any better than this!

3. At the very end of the day, we saw a cheetah stalking a gazelle, and watched it play out for a long time.  The cheetah finally took off running after the gazelle and caught it and killed it! It was the coolest thing ever!!  I was just screaming and clapping and John finally yelled, "Mamma Maasai!! The picture! The PICTURE!" I was so excited I had forgotten to take pictures until the very end, so they aren't very good.  Pretty much just a pile of dust, but I know what it is!! :)

(He finally spots the gazelle...)

(This poor little guy had no idea he was about to be dinner!)

So that was all only DAY TWO!  Day three was more game drives mostly (with John, of course).  We got a flat tire and went to one of the fancy (well, fancy for Africa) resorts not far away to air up the tire.  When we were driving there, we saw a bunch of local women carrying wood that they had gone out to collect.  Apparently the women do ALL the work around here, and the men hunt...or lay around and do nothing.  Whichever.

I have seen more animals on this trip already than I've probably seen in my entire life combined, haha!  I have like a thousand pictures already - - here are a few of my favorites:

I got back to Nairobi late this morning and came straight to the airport (after a stop at an ATM) - not the big public/international one, a different smaller one.

Okay - the little (and I mean little) airplane is here so I've gotta go. I'll try to write tomorrow, but I'm not sure how much longer my phone is going to last!!

PS:  Oh yeah - a couple more things real quick: Up until now, this has been a very "budget" trip.  But I splurged :) I am taking a hot air balloon ride over the Sehrengeti tomorrow morning at sunrise!!  Everyone I've talked to has said it is the most amazing thing you will ever do/see, so what the heck!!  It wasn't really in my budget, but I'm doing it anyways!! I mean who knows when I'll be back in AFRICA with this opportunity!

Also, I haven't had a shower since Sunday morning, and it's going to be awhile longer until I do get one! Talk about disgusting!!  My legs and feet are black, and I didn't even know my hair could look like this!  There is one little faucet that once in awhile has a trickle of water, but it is usually dry.  So, yeah, I am GROSS!! :) And the "toilet" they have here is a dirty little hole in the ground. I'm getting so good at just squatting out in the open; I actually prefer it to the dirty smelly bathroom!! :) LOL...thought you guys might get a laugh out of that...

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