Monday, June 30, 2008

Into the Wild & Hapana Karibuni (No, You Are NOT Welcome Here!)

After going to Fotinis, we went for more relaxation and lunch at a place called the Sundance Lodge. It made me think of the film festival. After lunch we went on a nature hike with a Maasai gentleman who spoke no English. On our 2 hour wandering walk, he taught me some Swahili/Maasai and I taught him some English. As we would walk, he would point out all the acacia trees. Let me tell you something - they were ALL acacia trees. I would point out some ua (flowers). Our conversation pretty much went like this: "Acacia, acacia, acacia," Maasai man. Ellen replies: "Ua, ua, ua." We ventured into the words for grass and dirt too. Learning all those animal names, colors, and numbers came in handy. I even taught him head, shoulders, knees, and toes. He was very entertained by that. While we were walking, he pointed out (if I understood correctly) his home, which was very close to the start of our walk. Then we proceeded further and further into the bush and he attempted to give us a look into the dwelling places (bomas) of other people. Well, they were NOT happy about it, and can you blame them? Let's put ourselves in their shoes for just a moment. You've just finished eating dinner and you notice your nosy neighbor tramping through your yard with twenty or so mazunugus (white people) and...they seem to be walking right up to your front door! I would not be happy either. We tried to communicate to our nature walk guide that we were really ok with not seeing their bomas, but he kept on trying anyway. Then, a semi-fluent English speaking gentleman who, like the medicine man from yesterday, was under the influence of something tried to tell us something else we already knew. He indicated that one family was in three houses. One house, two house, three house, one family. Gotcha. He was going for shock value - polygamy - got it. Thanks. When we tried to continue on our way, he kept trying to engage me in the same conversation: one house, two house, three house, one family. Yes - I have seen the show Big Love. Other than our several confrontations along the way, we did return safely. We used our best broken swahili to indicate that we needed to return to the Sundance Lodge before it got dark. Twende (let's go) Sundance Lodge. Our tour guide relented and led us back in that direction. Without him, we'd truly be lost. I don't think GPS works out that-a-way. Then, when we got back the bus had to make two trips with the undergrads then with us. It was at least an hour and a half before we got on the bus and faced that bustling traffic back in Arusha.

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