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On Safari!

KENYA | Tuesday, 29 October 2002 | Views [697]

Going on safari!  I finally get to see if these animals really do exist outside of zoos!  I’ve visited Hiroshima, climbed the Great Wall, photographed Hong Kong at night, lounged on the beaches of Malaysia, visited the Taj Mahal, crossed the equator, and now I’m going on safari!

Rainy yesterday which made for dreary pictures, but kept the dust down, but today it’s been hot again, dry, dusty…everything we paid for! :)

We ride in vans that seat 7 and have pop-tops so we can stand up and see all around us.  Our guide is Henry and he said that the animals know the vans, but if we got out and walked around, they’d be scared.  Henry’s also been a really good sport about being in a van with 7 girls.

Once we got into Amboseli National Park, we could see right away how different it is from Tsavo National Park.  Tsavo is very bushy, but Amboseli is practically a desert.  There are quite a few swampy areas, but it was so dry and dusty that my toothbrush was red with dust at the end of the day. 

The park manager told us that Amboseli used to be mostly forested, but the rising elephant population destroys everything as they knock more and more trees down to get at the top leaves. And I’m sure the warming temperatures each year don’t help.  So the whole central region of the park has turned to a dust bowl with an occasional swampy oasis.  Since it is so open, it’s very easy to see the animals, and right away as we entered, we saw three giraffes (I love giraffes!), and herds of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle.

In the evening we went to a Maasai village, and they all greeted us with a song and dance that the young men and women do.  It’s a very forceful dance. The warriors all jump up and down to show how strong they are, and they must have been jumping a good 2 or 3 feet off the ground!  The women stand off to the side with their babies and sing, and they are so beautiful.  The Maasai people wear a lot of red.  Nobody really knows why except that since they walk around in the open all day, it makes it easy for others to see them.  And for some reason, the lions don’t bother them either!  No predators do, and it’s not out of fear either because the Maasai don’t hunt.  They live solely off of their herds of cattle and goats, and eat only the meat, blood and milk from them.  As a result they are all very thin and tall, and they have great teeth J

After their dance, they promptly herded us over to where they were selling and trading jewelry, but I escaped and found the little kids, and they were just adorable!  Someone had handed out crayons, pens and paper, so I sat on the ground with them for quite a while just playing and watching them write their names (most of the older ones knew English by then).  There was one child, though, who was so sad-looking.  The poor thing was obviously sick with something because he had a distended belly, runny nose and eyes, and worst of all, flies were landing all over him and his face and he didn’t even try to shoo them away.  Very sad. 

The chief’s brother was the teacher for their village and a couple neighboring villages.  The kids learn Swahili, English, how to write the Maasai language, and math.  They only send the boys to school though.  They don’t educate the girls because, they say, if they do, the girls will marry outside of the Maasai tribes, and if they do that, obviously the tribes will dwindle and eventually die out completely.  Once they are married, a woman must build her own home that she and her husband can live in.  The women of this particular village walk 1.5 km to a stream to bring back water every day, and at 15, all children – male and female – are circumcised.  Also, once a woman has her baby, she cannot leave her house for 4 months.  Once the 4 months are up, her head is shaved and she prepares to go back outside and back to work.  Because of the work load, they say it is nice that the men have more than one wife; that way they share the work.

It is all such a different culture that some of it may seem cruel and strange to us, but this is their lifestyle and they are happy and very much hope that their environment will be preserved for generations to come.

Tags: kenya, on safari, once in a lifetime


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