We’ve been in the air for 12 hours, with still another 12 or so hours on our journey to go.
Our first (and only) stop over is in Abu Dabi. We’re only there for about 2 hours but I made sure I dressed appropriately this time (not like our stop over on the way to Europe when my dress was accidentally stuck into my stockings whoooops!).
I have absolutely no idea what to expect! The past 24 hours have been a crazy roller coaster of emotions! I’ve been excited, nervous, scared, happy, proud, strong and weak all in the space of a day.
But I know from previous travel experiences, it’s all normal and to be expected that your mind is going to be running wild with questions before arriving at your destination.
Elyse has been to Africa before so that gives me more confidence that we will be a-okay!
David Attenborough’s been keeping me entertained on this flight, I thought I should further my knowledge about the African jungle I’m about to embark into😜
Elyse and I both had a decent 11 hour sleep on the plane which was amazing! Probably because we knocked ourselves out with cider & wine.
I’m SO excited to meet the kids we are looking after, and to meet my host family!
I wish I could turn my brain off from wondering all these things about when we arrive, but I guess sitting still for 18 hours doesn’t really help that.
We arrive in Abu Dharbi and it is silent. Every time I have had a stop over in the Middle East, it has felt quite eery. At the airport it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
We felt intimidated as we were the only white people but it’s just preparation of what’s to come! We asked again for the third time if there was any free upgrades, after being rejected once again we happily went into our next flight and sat in our little economy seats down the back.
As I get my first glimpse of Africa it looks flat & red, orange and yellow. It looks vast & open. I’ve got little butterfly’s now. The turbulance was the worst I’d ever encountered. Elyse too. We held hands because we both felt like we may die any moment haha, but we were fine. The wind was so bad that it was throwing the plane around. But then we finally landed and the excitement & nerves kicked in.
Why do something that makes me feel nervous? I want to challenge myself. I know how fortunate I am to live the life I do and I want to give some of that back to the world. By coming here, I hope to be inspired and come back with a heavier heart.
Okay so we’re getting off the plane. The airport makes the Bali airport look like Dubai.
We’re scanned by a strange camera and then we enter (being the only white people in the whole airport) to the tiny run down airport with two baggage carousels in the whole airport, with no screen to show you which carousel was for which plane.
We go through “customs” which is a woman sitting back on a chair saying “do you have a laptop or anything” then we proceed to pick up. We find the “IVHQ” sign and go over to meet David, our driver to the volunteer house. My anxiety arises as I start to feel like I’m just getting in a car with a random in the middle of Africa. Elyse notices that my feeling isn’t to good but I force myself to be calm – everything was going to be okay :).
When we get in the car, we get a call from “Moses”, one of the guys who works for NVS (the Kenyan name for IVHQ), he takes our worries away by reassuring us of what was going on & where we were going. On the way we were passing many wild goats, cows, dogs and other animals.
The roads were crazy! I felt like I was back in Bangkok, with the no road rules, lines or anything to divide the cars! The culture shock was starting to settle in..
We had never seen anywhere so poor in our lives. We went past the “national” hospital. The building looked like an old ruin- the windows couldn’t all shut properly and it was rusty as anything. To believe this was obviously one of the countries biggest hospitals was crazy. There were many people waiting on the ground out the front of it also.
There was dust everywhere because nothing was paved. The road was constantly mini speed humps every half a second.
We made it to the volunteer house which looked like a tiny garage door in amongst some slummy side streets.
We both were stunned at the level of poverty they were all in. We knew it was bad, but you really can’t imagine how until you see it.
We were welcomed by three Kenyan ladies and shown to our hostel-style room. There’s a couple of lights but not many, and little to no hot water. There are signs in the bathrooms commenting “Please keep water usage to less than 3 minutes – we need enough water for everyone in the house”.
For dinner, we were fed rice and lentils. There was water melon and mango also that you could take a piece of. It filled me up for the mean time but it’s two hours later now and I’m hungry again. I’m tempted to go to sleep so that sleeps a time machine till breakfast. I’m fairly exhausted from our 23hrs of travel today! I’m not too sure about the wedding so I’ve put my surrong over my sheet, everyone here seems to be doing something like that for extra protection. In the volunteer house there are people from all over- France, Canada, America, Australia, kenya etc.. Most of which are doing the HIV/AIDS help program but it all varies!
It’s only 7.50pm but I think I’m going to get some sleep. Who knows what my next bed in my host family will be like! I’m not to sure if I’ll even get a mattress. Let’s hope so😜
Today we woke up and had our first Kenyan breakfast! Carbs carbs and carbs. We were given some doughy fried donut thing and the option of toast. The coffee wasn’t actually that bad! It tasted kinda hazelnutty!
We then packed up our bags to leave for our home stays!
The NSV guys came at about 9.30 and we started orientation.
Orientation went until just after lunch time. They covered absolutely everything there was to cover & answered every single one of our questions.
They sung us a traditional “welcome to kenya” song which was sweet! Then we went around and introduced ourselves to them. They asked us if we had a song from our home land to present to them. No one brought anything to the table so I whipped out my own rendition of “home among the gumtrees”. Even though it probably wasn’t the greatest musically, I think they were happy with my efforts👍
The man who spoke about Security in Kenya was a tad confronting. He explained the ways to avoid being mugged or stolen from. And explained that in Kenya it is normal for theives to be beaten to death. So he informed us that if we were robbed, but then the item was given back, make sure we tell whoever is around to not beat him because he has given back your possession. Otherwise someone’s death could be on your concience from having him steal from you.
He went on to say “but don’t worry I don’t see people get beaten to death on a regular basis, I’ve just seen it a few times”. How reassuring…
They added not to go out at dark and to be street smart, etc…
After a lot of questioning & informing, Elyse and set off towards our village we were assigned to at Maddison House Orphanage in Ndeiya. It was about an hour out of Nairobi.
It’s been a 15 minute drive since we’ve seen any “shops” (mud built buildings that sell farmed goods are the only sorts of shops out here), then we arrive a a big iron gate saying “Maddison House Rescue Centre”.
We are greeted by Teresa, who will be our host mum for the next two weeks.
We are staying in a big house that previously used to be an orphanage for many children.
Now, it is used more so as a volunteer house. Although there hasn’t been many volunteers at all in recent times due to the Ebola scares.
We shows us to our little 2 bed room up stairs and then we meet Cynthia, the oldest daughter. She is 19 years old & has finished school. She’s doing a computer course now until she finds a job.
Cynthia took us on a walk to show us where our school was that we’d be working at & we met the principal and a few of the teachers. They informed us what time to come tomorrow & gave us some books to study for the classes we would be teaching. We were sent to go into ‘kamangu’ the local markets to get meat and vegetables for dinner. Elyse and I were starred up and down like we were celebrities. They didn’t look away. It was like some of them had never seen white skin before. I couldn’t bring myself to go into the butcher. Yes, it was all fresh but you could see every single intestine and body part of the animal you were buying. As well as watching them cut the meat with their bare hands – no gloves and not the most sanitary of chopping boards.
It was getting late & the sun was going down. This stressed me out because of what we were told on our orientation, to never be out when it gets dark. Our host mum also told us to make sure we were home before dark. I told Cynthia it would be good to get home quickly because I was feeling slightly anxious and we were on our way.
We had no power back at home and no water for showering. We also had no light to be able to read up on the books we were given to look over for school the next day. Gitutha is the area of our home, it is in the region of Ndeiya. Gitutha is super dusty because it is so dry. There hasn’t been water for a long time therefore no grass or plants have grown to cover the ground. And so it is just dry desert-like dust. The dust & wind in the evening was making us very dusty and dirty so the fact that we couldn’t have a shower wasn’t ideal, especially for going to bed because dust was going to get everywhere. But hey, its all apart of the experience! For dinner that night we had, meat, pasta and veggies! We lit up the table with a candle. Elyse and I hit the hay fairly early – 8 o’clock to be exact!
It’s 6 o’clock and we’re up for our first day of school! We were given two mini sausages each & a million jam sandwiches (four).
With me & Elyse both being gluten intolerant & the toilet not having much water this wasn’t the best situation. So we took the sandwiches to the school with us and shared them with the teachers and children!
Geraldine (the younger 8 year old sister at our home stay) walked with us to school. She was also starting at 7am!
The kids have to be at school at 7am for an 8.20am start. I still have no idea why they go so much earlier…
The morning was confusing and a little rushed, because we weren’t sure on what class we were needed in and what the timetable was. When we arrived, several little black faces scurried to the windows to see us. In every single class room window there was about 10 children staring at us in awe. There were about 7 class rooms in an ‘L’ shape arrangement.
The morning didn’t run as smoothly as we had probably hoped with classes being interupted constantly but we found our way fairly quickly.
When we arrived I asked “which class would you like us to teach”, Margaret (the school principal) said “pick one of those 3 classes, none of them have a teacher”. I asked her
“Where is their regular teacher” and then she told me “They do not have one, they have been teaching themselves from the book – we can not afford any more teachers”. Elyse and I were stunned. We both realised the work load was going to be a lot harder then we thought – we had 3 year levels to cover, and 4 different classes in one day! How was it going to be possible. Science, English, Maths and the casual R.E class needed to be taught. That’s around ten classes in 4 hours. We obviously realised that wasn’t physically possible so we divided our selves in to the classes we knew were possible to teach well (me being everything but maths & we were on our way).
As I walked into class, I introduced myself and got there names and then I told them to get out there pencil or pen. Only to find out, they didn’t have any.
Luckily, Elyse had brought a box full. So I went and fetched a hand full and they were extremely happy. I then found out that none of them had any text books. The only person with book was the teacher. I had noticed from looking at the board that the teacher had been writing all the notes from the book on the board and then the children copy them in a tiny notebook. They could save so much time on writing all of that out if they all had books.
The kids were so attentive and eager to learn. Although I don’t think they understood much of what I was saying, they were trying. I tried to mix the lesson up between writing and discussion time to make sure they understood what I was saying. They had shown me where in their books they were upto but what they had done. But every single one of them had no idea on the previous subject they studied when I questioned them on it.
They had all been doing the work but none were properly learning.
I tried to go around to every child and give them a chance to answer questions and then reward them with a sticker. They all LOOOOVED stickers! It was like I was giving them $100.
The next class I walked into was a class of 5 boys, they all stared at my water and a few of them said “oh water” under their breath.
I felt absolutely terrible for having it but it was my only water I had until I got home that night.
That after noon, the principal (Margaret) asked us if we minded looking after the whole school while all the teachers had a meeting. They’ve never been able to do this because they’d never had anyone to hold the fort. We happily agreed! She told us it was going to be an hour.
At the beginning, I took the older 5,6,7 & 8’s. And Elyse took all the younger ones.
I taught them first a game I played at Wandin North primary. I think we called it kick ball. Which was similar to baseball but with a soccer ball and instead of running to each base, you run backwards and forwards to a pole.
They picked it up pretty quickly! The older boys who could speak better English helped me out. It was awesome to hear them cheering and really getting into it!
After two games, we swapped to relay races. This worked well for ten minutes then the kids sort of lost interest/probably couldn’t understand 60% of what I was trying to tell them to do.
An hour was up, so I went to ask Margaret if we were good to go! The hour flew! The teachers weren’t done with the meeting and so we were asked to stay another hour and a bit. Most of the kids stay at school till 7!! It’s crazy. The kids were exhausted from games & weren’t wanting to do to many more games so I tried to make it simple & just do a game of sharades with the little ones.
This worked properly for about 120 seconds and then after that, the children were so excited about the new game and being the one to act out the character that they were all running at me and jumping on me and clinging my clothes to find out what the next animal I was going to give them would be.
I tried and tried and tried to get them to go sit down and just listen to one another but it didn’t work so I ended up just giving up and letting them jump up on me and crowd around me like I was a famous person walking through a mosh pit.
It was out of control and we still had an hour to go.
Me and Elyse figured there was no point the little kids playing anymore because it was just getting out of hand (kids are jumping all over me, some were taking there clothes off and jumping in the dirt, some were running up onto the pile of bricks with no shoes on etc…) so we sent the smallest ones in side. Then some of the 5,6’s wanted to take photos on my phone & see pictures of Australia. So I did that for a little bit with them & then a kid came up to me with something in his hand. I only saw it in the corner of my eye at first, he came up to me and said “Teacher, teacher.. Have you ever seen a baby scorpion before!?”… as he put it right up to my face. I screamed and said “please don’t ever put that in my face again, that’s not funny”.
I walked over to the other kids and the same group of boys and all his friends came up behind me. A few of the girls were playing with my hair and I thought it was all innocent.
Then the other older kids I was speaking to started staring at my head and giggling. I turned around and asked them if they had just put a scorpion in my hair and all the children giggled.
I think I stayed fairly calm considering there was a baby scorpion possibly in my hair.
Inside I was freaking out so I went inside and told Elyse that I needed help out here!! Haha.
Before we went home we discussed with Margaret that their school timetable wasn’t exactly the most efficient to suit the kids needs. There classes were only 35 minutes long. It wasn’t long enough. By the time the kids are only just starting to understand it’s time to change classes so we discussed with her what the possibility would be in making the classes either 45 minutes or an hour.
She was very positive about this and embraced the change. She agreed in all the points we layed down on why it would be best to change to schedule.
That night for dinner we made homemade chiabati! It was amaaaazing! Trizah taught us how to make it from scratch. It’s made out of flour, water, oil and …
It tastes just like roti bread but a little bit thicker. It was so so good! We had it with lentils and rice.
The next day we were starting our second day of school with the new and improved schedule. The morning ran much much smoother and I really felt like I had the hang of it now.
I was progressing with the kids a lot better now that I had more time to go through things with them. They are really smart when they start to understand things.
I taught Geraldine’s grade 4 class for most of the day which was Science, English and R.E.
They were good but they got too greedy with wanting the stickers.
For the first 20 minutes of the English lesson they tricked me in saying they hadn’t done a certain subject but they had. When they knew all the answers I got suspicious and they started giggling. I told them I wasn’t going to give them any more stickers for the rest of the class and they all apologised.
At lunch time the guys from NVS came to the school because we asked them to come help us out on what we could do with our donation money.
Chomlea walked around the school with us and Margaret and we spoke about all the things that could be possible to do. We sussed out the class room windows, the toilets, showers etc.. All the necessities they didn’t have.
They needed new windows because the class rooms were on a hill and the classes at the bottom of the hill had no windows. Just card board. This meant that they had barely any light in the room (there is no electricity in the school) and all the dust would come in the room and go into their highs with the heavy Kenyan winds.
Each and every one of the toilets was simply just a tiny hole in the ground (no toilet bowl) and some with no door, lock or anything. This was especially bad for the girls. The boys urinals also was at the front of the school, next to the gate and had nothing to cover them from public. So as soon as you entered the school you could see right in on them.
At the school there was also a small orphanage for the kids there that had no home. They were showering in the same cubical as the drop toilets. So they would go into the toilets with a bucket and use that was their every day “shower”.
The school shared one ruler and one eraser. Some went without any pencils, paper and even a teacher! We didn’t understand how they were learning properly.
And by the way, this is a PRIVATE school! Not a public. So I couldn’t even imagine the public schools…
We spoke with Margaret on what she wanted done most with the school and asked her if she could get tell us her first priorities on what she thought was needed most to fix.
She told us that the windows of the classroom, the urinals, the toilets and possibly getting a new classroom were her first priorities and the biggest issues they had, so Elyse and I said we would get quotes on those things & see what we can afford 🙂
The NVS guys came back home with us while we had lunch & dropped us home in their van. They wanted to speak with our host family to check up on things.
Because earlier that day I had told them I could do dancing, the principal and her daughter asked if I could run a dance class in the afternoon. They absolutely loved it.
I took each class in 20 minute blocks so that they would always get a turn and I taught them how to play musical statues and freeze groups (when you freeze the music get into a group of however many I call out). At the start of each session I also did a warm up with them so that they were physced up for the rest of the class.
Teaching them dance gave the most incredible joy to me because they all look so extremely happy & all of their innocent competitive sides came out.
Their smiles were all beaming with light!
After the last class me and Elyse headed back home (very sweaty and worn out). It had been lots & lots of fun. Elyse told me she nearly started crying when I was first dancing with them and I definately came close to it to.
At home we had an early night because the next day we were up at 5.50 to be picked up at 6am by Chomlee to head out to Outreach.
But before we went to bed Christmas and Margaret visited our home with the quote from the builders on how much everything was going to cost. It wasn’t cheap!
The class room was going to be out of the question.
I had EXACTLY the right amount to be able to pay for them to get new windows the class room & to fix up the boys urinals so I handed over my money to them to make a start on that yay! Handing over the money felt amazing. She thanked us and explained that what we were doing would be making in history in their school. It was a lovely, humbling feeling.
Elyse was going to pay to do up all the girls toilets and possibly the shower which was amazing! We both went to bed with smiles on our faces that night! Knowing that we would be able to see some progress before we leave 🙂
He arrived early (surprise, surprise – Kenyans are usually always late) but he waited for us.
We had to take everything we needed for safari and outreach because we weren’t coming back.
We drove for an hour to get into Nairobi to meet the others. We weren’t meeting at junction (the mall near the volunteer house, the only place we had access to wifi). Once we got there I replied to a few messages on Facebook and checked up on my social media.
Elyse and I got breakfast from there to which was AMAZING! We had granola with fruit, yogurt and strawberries. It felt so good to get some normal/healthy food into our bellies. I got a late and it pretty much came in a milkshake cup, it was huge, biggest coffee I’ve ever had for sure.
When the others arrived we left & began our journey out to the slums. We were all given a bottle of water then we were on our way. On the way we learnt about the second biggest slum in the world which was in Nairobi. Kenya is home to second largest slum in the world – consisting of one million people. One third of the population is living in the slums (kabari) in Nairobi.
On the way we stopped at the Great Rift Valley look out, this is the biggest valley in the world. It goes all the way from Egypt down to the bottom of Tanzania.
After a long drive down the great north road, past Lake Naivasha and past our first zebra and baboon sightings, we arrived at the KCC program we were greeted by so many young, cute, smiling little faces.
KCC opened in 1976 because it was it was a milk factory and that’s why people started living there. Some people have been living there for 40+ years. The milk factory shut down in the mid 90’s because of competition because it went broke.
One reason why they went broke was because this particular milk factory shit down was because the company required the milk delivered to them by the farms. Whereas other milk factories go out and source/pick it up from farms. This slum consists of 6,000 people.
The KCC program is trying to raise enough money to build them a whole primary school – valued at $500,000.
At the moment it’s a pre school/half day day care. They have 4 classes a day.
Since the KCC program has started they have (6 years ago) few kids in high school that are sponsored, started the pre school and provided these children with food every day.
It’s hard though because only half of them make it because the girls end of getting pregnant at 16, or are so mentally traumatised by things that they don’t think their life is worth trying to do something extraordinary like going to university.
The KCC slum project takes the worst cases in from the slums and provides them with free education and one free meal a day. All they have to do is provide the uniform and a small fee of $20USD per year for water.
We played with the children and then Marcus took us over to the KCC slum down the road where all the families of these little children lived. It was heart wrenching. I nearly didn’t feel like I was going to be able to see it.
It was very difficult. I started to feel disrespectful going into their slum and seeing the way they lived but Marcus reassured us that we shouldn’t feel that way at all because they all know he started the school and that we are all there with good intentions to help them.
There were people coughing left, right and centre. There were kids as young as 4 with babies attached to their necks.
There was mud in all the alleys and homes with barely any infrastructure. I tried to smile at a few people and got nothing in return. Did they know how?
Marcus told us that many of the families there couldn’t leave and relocate because they were either criminals or way to poor to leave. Some people (and I have no idea why on earth they would do this) were just living there simply because it was cheaper.
I didn’t understand why someone would sacrifice living a happy life in a good place to live some where like this.
There were sick animals everywhere also like dogs and cats.
On the way there we passed a river which Marcus told us that it was where they got their water from. The river was filled with parasides. He de-wormed the kids every 2 months at the school to try and get out all the germs that has been built up from drinking the water. The process reminded me exactly how we de-wormed our dogs at home.
Marcus took us into one of the tiny shacks so we could learn about this woman’s project that was being worked on. The woman’s group got together and talked about issues they all faced from living in the slum. And to raise some money for themselves they started making these incredible necklaces, bracelets and earrings out of poster paper! It was amazing and so creative.
I couldn’t even imagine the problems they would be facing… Well I could imagine but it’s horrific trying to.
As she was telling us about her jewlerry I glanced out the door way and there about 8 children just staring at us.
They all looked so so sad. Some of the kids had crusty snot across their face and some had flies in between their eyes but they didn’t even flinch to make them go away.
With most of the young kids I’ve come across in Kenya, even if they are hard done by I could usually get a smile out of them because they are young so hope is still there.
These children I could not. I smiled at one of the boys who was staring at me intently, he looked somewhere between 3 & 5 years old. He didn’t smile back. He looked at me with saddest look on his face that I’d ever seen, that I had to look away.
I could feel so much emotion like that I wanted to cry to.
I bought a necklace off the ladies (which soon broke) and a pair of earrings for two special ladies in my family. Even though the necklace wasn’t my favourite, I was giving money to an amazing cause. The look of it didn’t matter, but I’ve grown to like it so much more since!
We then left to walk back to the KCC program. On the way out we passed a group of men who were starring at us which was abit uncomfortable but we kept on walking.
Walking through that slum was one of the most confronting and eye opening things I’d ever seen. The conditions were worse than horrible, & that was only one of many around.
After an emotional after noon we headed out to our accomodation for the night. The rooms that we were meant to stay in we booked up with people from the navy so we were relocated to the “Sweet Banana” hotel in Naivasha.
Elyse & I had spoken with the other volunteers and had found out we were getting the most out of our homestays and placements. They all had wifi, some were in gated communities so they could go for runs, some had Foxtel and they all had proper toilets and showers. We were living the true local Kenyan life style but we were super happy with it and wouldntve had it any other way because our two weeks was filled with everything we could imagine.
Elyse and I both hadn’t had a proper shower since being in Australia (only a bucket one) and I hadn’t washed my hair so you can imagine how excited we were to stay at this hotel…
Well, to our good luck we were blessed with a hotel room that had a toilet that didn’t flush, then it started flooding the bathroom because of a leakage and the second before I was about to get in the shower, the shower head smashed straight down onto the ground. Hahahha and of corse it only happened to us but it was hilarious.
We went out of dinner then came back to the bar that was above the Sweet Banana and had a couple of beers. I tried the Kenyan beer called “Tusker”. It was actually really good!
The next morning we had to be packed and in the van by 7am and off we went to have an interesting breakfast.
Our group consisted of Jenny who was from Otowa, Canada. Jean-Luc who is from Boston but was from Montreal. Sarah from California, USA and Sydney from San Fransisco, USA. Oh and this girl called Taina from Toronto was with us for two days but not the safari.
The breakfast we had was cold toast with sausage, this salad mix with capsicum & onion and a boiled egg.
The boiled egg was disgusting. As I opened it, the egg only took up half of the shell and it had a huge black spot underneath the skin. Everyone else’s was the same so we all requested a fried egg instead.
After breakfast we drove to Hells Gate National Park for a huge day of biking and hiking. Us volunteers got our bikes and started riding down the track.
Elyse, Jenny and I hung behind the group to take some selfies with the Zebras we were riding past. There were so many zebras! The others rode off ahead & we realised there was no guide with us and thought there probably should be considering we were riding but huge, dangerous animals. The van drove past us and told us we’d be on our own but they’d be ahead. That’s reassuring.
We kept riding and didn’t know where the others were. My bike chain wasn’t working properly so I was behind every one. I called out to the girls to wait for me but the with the wind direction while you were driving you couldn’t here anyone yell out. I saw them up ahead riding past two water buffalos & Elyse was taking some really close photos. The buffalo was about two metres away from the bike path. I remembered someone telling us that when they’re in a herd they are okay but when they are on their own they’re super dangerous. So I tried to yell out and wait because I was super dooper scared. They waited for me to catch up but then kept going. I told Jenny how scared I was and we agreed just to keep riding.
As I rode past the buffalo my bike chain broke & I absolutely freaked out and started crying like a little baby. Haha. The water buffalo was starring me down, straight in the eye. He did not look happy at all. He was only about 4 steps away. I got my bike to work & quickly sped down the hill towards the girls, still crying. The van drove past me and asked why I was by myself and he (Chomlee) got angry. I said I tried to yell out but they couldn’t here me and my bike broke.
We caught up to the others and I was feeling super anxious. As you would if you felt you were about to be killed by a huge water buffalo.
Jean-Luc fixed my bike when we caught up and I was feeling much better.
When we all met together it happened to be right next to “Pride Rock” from the Lion King. There was one huge rock and one little cliff coming out from the huge one. The little one was Pride Rock.
People used to be able to climb it but not anymore because someone slipped and fell off a while ago. It was pretty awesome to see! The movie captured it well.
Then we kept on riding, we past zebras, giraffes, pumbas (wart hogs) and water buffalos. We bike ride was 14 km. We got to a nice spot and then dropped out bikes, were chased by some monkeys and then went on an hour long hike.
The monkey came along with us. We walked along a steep and slippery rock that was about a foot wide. I felt sorry for Elyse because she was wearing thongs. Proper hiking shoes probably would’ve been a better idea but we didn’t know.
We walked down through a gorge and felt the running water on the rock faces beside us and it was boiling out. This was because the water coming from inside the mountain was hot because it was volcanic.
We all got a hold of a black volcanic rock. It was amazing. Sarah pointed out that it was cool because the rock always looked like it was wet, even when it was dry.
The gorge which we were walking through was where Mufasa died. And where Simba ran through the stampede. It looked identical to the movie.
We then free rock climbed up a huge cliff to the very top of the valley. Luckily there were a couple of trees and ropes to hold onto when we were going up.
The view from the top was absolutely amazing! We were inside the great Rift Valley looking out. The view was stunning.
Miles and miles of valleys, mountains & hills.
At the top there were some little ladies selling Masai jewlerry. There were some really rad beaded cuffs I had to have on my hands so I bought them & the others bought some things to.
We went back & picked up our bikes and headed back.
The way back was on an exhausting incline hill but we got through it! 💪
It felt rejuvenating to do some exercise again.
When we were finished we headed back to the volunteer house. We convinced Chomlee to drop us off!
We ate dinner there & then headed to Junction to get some wifi.
It was Sarah’s birthday so we woke her up and went out for breakfast before our safari. I had fruit salad with yoghurt and nuts and some green tea! It was oh so so good.
At 9am we hoped in the safari van for a fun, adventurous next 3 days.
It was a 6 hour drive! At noon we stopped and had some lunch at the nicest place we had been! It was a beautiful day and this place had a really pretty garden, souvenir shop and restaurant.
It was the best food we had had! Amazing African food!! I bought my first drum! It was a beautiful little African style drum that goes over your neck and has painted giraffes on it. I also bought a few more gifts. Then we were back on the road again!
The gravel road finished and turned to dust, bumps and pot holes for the next 3 hours. It wasn’t really a road. It was more like 4 wheel driving through the wild. We had seen a few animal skeletons so I asked if the next one we saw we could stop quickly to take a look.
The next Skelton we passed, only 5 minutes up ahead, happened to be an elephants skelton! Our driver could tell that the elephant was sick because you could see that he had tried to carry on but didn’t make it.
We finally arrived at our luxurious camping spot. It was amazing! When we walked in the lobby, it looked out to an amazing view of the Masai valleys.
We were taken around to our tents to put our bags down. It had a shower, power (at certain times) and beds with pillows! It was heaven to us!
After putting out stuff down & having showers we met a guy at the front to take us in to the Masai village. Which is where the people of the Masai Mara live.
We were greeted by the son of the chief and he informed us he would show us around. The Masai also have their own language so we learnt a little bit of that to.
“Sopa, yopa!?” – “Hi, how are you?”
We were told there was 98 people in the Masai tribe and we could take photos.
The son of the chief told us they would dance for us and we also welcomed to drink coys blood if we wanted.. 😐
He told us that the cows blood is like their alcohol and is drunk at ceremonies. It is symbolic for making you strong.
All males are pernogomas in the Masai. Meaning they have more than one wife. And for each wife you must have a different house. Some men have up to 6.
The women they marry must not be from the tribe though, because they are all considered family once in the tribe. So they must either go to a different village or marry an outsider.
A lot of them had huuuuge stretched ear lobes. Bigger than any metal head you would ever see. The bigger the ear lobe to less educated you were.
They all wore beautiful jewlerry and robes/throw overs that were red and other bright colours. The red symbolised scaring away animals. All of their heads were shaved too, even the women.
As we walked in, I felt a super weird vibe about the place.. I don’t know why, I just didn’t feel comfortable.
Now I know there definately was a reason for that..
After walking in, we were welcomed to play with the baby sheep they had running around. But I preferred to stay away from tetanus needles. The Chiefs son seemed more comfortable now that he was inside his village. The village was kept closed from outsiders with a wall of sticks – that also helped keep the lions out.
They then welcomed us to come watch their traditional dance. All the men stood in a line and each made these tribal like noises. One at a time they would come forward and do a strange jumping dance move then go back into their line. The sound effects they made was like a low grunting sound like “hmmmm” with the back of the throat and a few people men made high pitched sounds every so often like “MMMYEOW”.
One at a time they welcomed each one of us into the dance and dressed us with their Cape around us.
Sydney and I were welcomed last and we did the funny jump in the middle, though we couldn’t stop laughing. It was really cool to see!
When the dance was over, we were welcomed over near one of the mud huts to see how they made fire without matches.
They used sand paper and seda. Using a long stick they put their hands together and rub up and down the stick against the wood to create smoke and then blow slightly whilst rubbing and put down some paper and then fire would alight.
Sarah had a go because it was her birthday! Seeing them light fire without matches was magical.
Then they offered people to get a “Masai tattoo”. Which was pretty much little cigarette burns on your arm. It was tradition to have three, to represent strength.
We didn’t think anyone would say yes until Jean-Luc put up his hand to offer.
After Jean-Luc maned up, everyone got it except from Sydney & I. It freaked me out a little. And once I learnt more about the tribe/cult was happy I didn’t!
After that they offered to show us inside their mud houses. They spilt us up into groups and took us aside. They pulled just Jenny and I aside – with 8 other men – and told us they’d show us the house. I got a super bad vibe about the situation and I didn’t know why (but it made sense later).
I told them I didn’t feel comfortable so only two men came in the little hut with us and the rest waited outside, which I was pretty happy about. Jenny, being jenny, thought I was scared about being in the dark. But I think the reasons why I was anxious was evident with the male to female ratio.
We were sat inside the little house and they told us al about how it was built.
The woman does everything – builds the house (which takes two months), cooks, cleans, raises the children and fetches the water. When I first heard this I thought that this was empowering and thought the women are obviously thought of as quite highly. (Later I was wrong)
The man only hunts (mostly as competition) and kills the meat.
They use each house for 9 years then they move and rebuild. This is because of termites and tradition. When they rebuild, the whole village moves all together but only local so that they are still close to the school.
After learning about the way their house was built by the women, we were offered to purchase some traditional jewlerry which was made by the Maasai Mara tribe. I bought a LION TOOTH necklace! Which I was absolutely stocked about! And a necklace made out of “black stone” which is sourced from the local rivers, then carved.
After leaving the village we were welcomed to buy other jewlerry and goods from the women! It was all so cheap so we stocked up a little bit.
After that it was time to go back to the camp site and get ready for dinner.
Dinner was buffet style which was the usual rice, lentils, chibatti, homemade coleslaw etc.. It was good! And then we had organised a cake for Sarah’s birthday! Little did we know, Erik (our tour guide) and Joseph (our bus driver) had planned for the Maasai Mara men to come sing her happy birthday as they came out with the cake and they did their traditional dance around Sarah. It brought tears to most of our eyes, including the birthday girls. It was beautiful.
After dinner we just sat around having a couple of beers (tuskers), with Jean Luc playing the euceleyly in the back ground.
Erik asked if we had enjoyed the Maasai tribe and seeing what they had to show us. We were such an inquisitive bunch! We had so many questions. We were asking him first about the tradtional dance and the cows. He informed us more about the process.
The mans family picks his first wife, he can pick his second but the woman doesn’t decide – her parents do.
The first marriage is all decided through the parents the chief of how much the girl is worth.
To get a wife you must have at least 5 cows and the woman’s parents must pay for the wedding.
The jumping in the traditional dance symbolises how many cows they must pay to marry the girl. They pay the cows to the girls parents. The dad is giving the girl away for cows. In their culture, cows are like money. This is because they breed and sell cows to Nairobi for a lot of money (so even though they may seem like they don’t have much, they make a lot of money off the Kenyan agricultural industry).
If you jump the highest you pay less cows for your wife, or if you can kill a lion. (The man we met in the mud hut killed a lion with a spear so he only paid 5 cows). The daughters parents decide how many cows they want to sell her for. Usually 20 is normal. They can also pay less cows if it’s agreed she isn’t as valuable.
It was then that we asked the question.. Wait, so the women don’t have a choice in heir culture?
Erik answered no and was happy we were catching on without him having to reveal too much about the cults secret ways.
He asked us if we knew what IDM was.
Some of the girls went quiet and some of us said no no what is that.
He went on to explain its when the woman is circumsised. I was still in shock.
Erik then went onto explain that women in the Maasai have no choice in anything.
To put it bluntly, they are basically used as slaves to serve the men while the men sit around and do nothing.
Every woman is circumsised in her teenage years so that she doesn’t ever have the temptation to go to another man once she is “bought”, because she can not feel pleasure. The man wants to feel like he can own her and she will not leave his side.
They are treated as animals. All of our opinions on the Maasai suddenly changed. I didn’t think of it anymore as a beautiful traditional tribe, but more of a messed up cult that can not be changed.
This turned into a lengthy discussion for obvious reasons… Half of us were arguing we need to get these women out and half were arguing that it’s all they’ve ever known and it’s their culture & if they left that they would loose their family.
A few questions were raised, one being – how do you tell a woman that what is being done in their culture is totally wrong when it’s all they’ve ever known for centuries & then others argued any woman would not be happy with a life like that, but we wouldn’t know. We talked about setting up an initiative to get these women out, or even just start a support group. Erik explained that highly educated Kenyans and the government have tried & it just hadn’t worked in the past because they men won’t allow the women to open their mouths about it because if they did they would be kicked out of the tribe, which would mean loosing their family/children. That’s another thing, If they want to leave the tribe, they can, and are welcomed back – that is if they are males. If they are FEmales they will never be welcomed back & their family will disown them. If a woman does not do what she is told or her role, she would be beaten.
There is a man doctor for males and female doctor for females in the tribe.
Boys are circumcised at 14 years old, in a cold river so that it freezes the penis. This is to symbolise “becoming a man”. Straight after they start hunting & learning to breed cows.
Meat is eaten for every meal. They wake up and eat just meat – then don’t eat for the rest of the day, then lots of meat for dinner.
They use many natural herbs/remedies so the meat is pretty much totally cholestorol free. Erik thought there was another Maasai secret to why none of them were so skinny but only eat meat, but that’s just another Maasai secret you wouldn’t know unless you were one of them.
I no longer thought this “beautiful, traditional, tourist attraction” “tribe” was so peaceful and wonderful. It’s more just like a super messed up cult that the government can’t change because they’re to corrupt and want the buisness from the cows.
The conversation went on for about two hours and was honestly one of the best, most in depth, meaningful conversations us girls had all had. It was great. But the mood needed to be lifted after having such an intense convocation topic, whilst we were sitting less than a kilometre from where it’s all happening.
Sarah wanted to dance, and by this stage we were all a little tipsy. We had no music so I made do and played dj with my iPhone.
It was hilarious and we all assigned each other an animal from “The Big 5” to be the next day. We were dying with laughter at Sarah. I think I nearly wet myself. She was doing some very creative, expressive dance and it was the best. We all made a conga line and danced like robots to daft punk and went outside and danced like idiots around all of the guys outside (including some Maasai members). Sarah stopped next to one like a robot and said “please. press. my. on. button” in a robot voice. We were dying. I can’t remember the last time I’ve laughed so much.
The stars were amaaaaaazing out here! We were so far from any civilisation. We were right on the border of kenya and Tanzania. The stars were magical and so so pretty! Sarah had never seen a shooting star so I promised her for her birthday I would find her one. We layed down outside our tents and I found her 3!!! We chatted about the inappropriate Canadian girls at the volunteer house that hasn’t really been volunteering but they’d been picking up Kenyan boys, then we stumbled to bed.
Bright and early for breakfast then into the Safari van to search for some animals!!!
Within the first 10 minutes we had seen half of the big 5! We saw a Lion hanging out over in the distance but he was on a track that wasn’t aloud to be accessed by safari vans. Joseph (our driver) was a legend and he checked no one was around and sped off down the off the road into the wild, right up to this lion so we could get a good glimpse of them! It was a bumpy, fast ride but so worth it and so much fun. The two lions that were basking in the sun were huuuge!
The animals we came across in the next two days included: Hamer bird, Topee, Antelope, Impala, Wart hog (pumba means stupid in Swahili btw), Dick dick
Wilderbeast, Water buffalo, Rhino, Jackal, Elephant, Lions, Giraffes
African white buck volture
Caught hard beast
Eurasian growler bird
Black belly Baxter bird