While driving from Tarangire to Serengeti, we stopped at a Maasai Boma (village). There are over 120 tribes within Tanzania but it is the Maasai that are the most noticeable. They are herders of cattle and goats and their life is nomadic, following the grass and the water. They are visible because they wear colored wraps and are usually carrying a walking stick or staff to control their herds. We saw them along the roadways and in the fields, young and old alike. Our safari guide was also a Maasai as are many people at the lodge. However, they are considered modern Maasai as they do not live the nomadic lifestyle. So, when Ephata offered to take us to a Boma we were delighted. We were greeted with a song and dance by the tribe – first the men and then the women. The women wore bright colored beads around their neck and head. Our Boma guide showed us to his hut which was made of sticks, straw and cow dung. The hut was round, about 15 feet in diameter and very dark with only a small hole in the roof to let in some light. Inside there were two beds – one for the man and the other for the women and children. Most Maasai men have more than one wife and our guide proudly said that his father had nine wives and he has two. There was a cooking fire in the hut as well. There were about 10 of these huts in the village which was protected by a solid fence made of vertical tree saplings laced together. This is their protection against the wild animals that they live among. Our guide told us that the tribe only eat milk, blood and meat – no water and no vegetables. He then took us back out into the village to show us some beadwork that the ladies had done. It was very beautiful and we bartered for a small bracelet. Our next stop was the preschool where the children were learning numbers, the alphabet and English words for Mom, Dad etc. They were pretty proud to come up and recite the numbers or letters in English, all the while indicating each with a pointer stick to the blackboard. Older children are sent away to boarding school to finish their education. Many will come back to live this lifestyle but others will become modern Maasai. We were quite in awe of these traditions and as we drove away, we realized how fortunate we were to have had a chance to see this lifestyle.
On our way back to Dashir Lodge, we had a four hour drive from the Ngorongoro Crater. We passed through a number of villages but also through the major city of Arusha. We hit the city at about four o’clock – just about the time of rush hour. It was raining and there seemed to be pandemonium in the streets. There were pedestrians, motorbikes, tuk tuks, buses, vans, jeeps, cars, and freight trucks all vying for a piece of the road. At one point the traffic had stopped and everyone was trying to get around the hazard. As it turned out the hazard was a line that had fallen across the road. We are assuming that it was not an electrical wire as they were trying to use an aluminum ladder to hold it up and let vehicles pass underneath. Also contributing to the mayhem were the food vendors that were set up along the street. These vendors had a fire going in a container of sorts and were cooking all different types of foods. Our driver patiently wound his way in and out of traffic and got us back to the lodge safely. It made us appreciate the services of a good driver and may have us thinking about hiring one in other countries as we travel.
On Thursday, we went to a home in the village for a visit and lunch. This was arranged by Dashir and it was Joyce’s, one of their employees’ homes. We got there about 10:30 AM and we were introduced to her husband Haggai, her 5 year old son Alvin and her in-laws that we called Babu and Bebe (grandfather and grandmother). As only Joyce spoke English there were many gaps in conversation. I took out my phone to show them pictures of our families back home and what snow looks like. They were amazed at the snow and could not believe how cold it can get. I also had a number of pictures that I had taken of the safari and other things along the way. Alvin found my video of the sea lions in San Francisco and he was mesmerized. He and Haggai must have played that video ten times. It was fun watching their faces light up each time they heard the sea lions bark. So, there are always ways to bridge the language gap. We also watched Joyce prepare some of the meal over a fire in the outside kitchen. I believe that Richard has some video that will give you a much better idea of what this looked like. We had lunch at 1:00 which consisted of chicken and rice, ugali (cornflour boiled to a paste), dagaa (little minnowlike fish cooked in oil with onions and tomatoes) with pineapple and watermelon for dessert. Our driver came to get us shortly after lunch and we said a fond farewell to the family. This was a great experience and though I didn’t care for the food, I would do this again in a heartbeat!!
We only have one more day left at Dashir and we are already terribly sad. We are planning to head back into the village tomorrow to visit three nuns from India that are working with the children and women in the area, and to revisit the secondary school to meet with the headmaster there. We cannot believe that our time here is coming to an end. As Richard says, “it has been food for the soul” and we will miss it very much.