Monday, May 31
Paula: The morning brought more rain, and although it
made our camping experience a bit more challenging Nassibu assured us that
the rain and cloud cover would result in our hike today becoming more pleasant.
As it turned out, the rain stopped just before we began hiking while light
cloud cover protected us from the sun's intense rays until noontime.
trail from the Acacia Forest to Lake Natron was beautiful but also required
sturdy feet as most of the hike was downhill. Initially, we walked along the
ridge and enjoyed the green hills covered in grasses. The Maasia bring cattle
to graze here but there are no settlements because the hills are too steep
an adequate water supply.
We watched as one Maasi warrior passed us on the trail (he's pictured on
the right). Justin explained that he was a messenger and had been asked by
an elder in the village of Naiyobi to take a message to Lake Natron. This
is the only method of communication available to the
Maasai. The journey is about eight hours walking each way, but warriors must
always be prepared to fulfill requests made by elders without any objection.
After walking about an hour we began a steady descent on volcanic rock and
dust. The trail was slippery and required us to go "pole, pole"
(which means slowly in Swahili). As we approached Lake Natron, we crossed
through several gullies. In one of the gullies we found several Maasi
women digging in the sand to get to fresh water. We have learned that the
Maasai women do most of the work in their households. They are responsible
for maintaining the home, milking the cows and caring for children. They actually
build the homes and also make the beaded jewelry worn
by both men and women. Clothing is simple and the women sometimes spend money
made from selling crafts on colorful pieces of cloth that they drape around
them and over their shoulders. Only recently have girls been required to attend
the initial seven years of school, so there appear to be disproportionately
fewer educated women.
After three hours of hiking, we reached Nassibu's Land Rover which had been
delivered to a meeting place so that we could drive the rest of the way to
the camp. We were thankful for the ride - our eight
miles today on top of our hiking from the past several days had made our legs
tired and sore.
We relaxed at the camp and took much-needed showers before heading out in
the late afternoon to explore Lake Natron. The salty lake is very large and
lined with flocks of beautiful flamingos. Big rocks in the lake are used by
for nesting, and there are a large number of these bright pink birds on Lake
Natron. Other wildlife including zebra, giraffes, gazelles and ostrich are
also in the area, but we were only able to see them today from a distance.
We continue to enjoy learning about the Maasi culture and have found them
friendly and outgoing. Several of the staff members helping us at each camp
have been Maasai, and we have found them to be eager to speak with us and
to play games with David and Katie. We have noticed that they all appear happy
and seem to have few worries.
Tomorrow we plan to hike through a gorge to view a nearby waterfall in the
morning and then visit another Maasi village in the afternoon.
Animals seen today:
New birds seen today:
Yellow Neck Spur Fowl