Masai chief.
A Masai chief at a village near Mto Wa Mbu

Another visit with the Masai
Mon. 11 Oct. 2004 - Arusha to Karatu, Tanzania

Masai children. We began our day with a stop in Arusha, where we changed money (1000 Tanzanian Shillings for US$1) and shopped. We stopped for lunch at a camp site in Mto Wa Mbu (Mosquito Creek) and continued on to visit another Masai village.

This village was in a barren plane, menaced by swirling dust devils, smelling of dried dung. Our guide was Frederick, not a Masai but part of something called the Cultural Tourism Program, which I think was affiliated with the Tanzanian government. As we left our truck and stepped into the desert, the friendly Masai children swarmed us. They were skinny and wearing obviously second-hand clothes. They greeted us with the Swahili greeting "Jambo!" and shook our hands warmly. Then they shadowed us on our tour of the village, tugging at our water bottles and camera straps.

Masai children.
Masai kids in their village, with our truck, Anna, and a dust storm in the background

Masai child.

Frederick gave us a tour with similar information to what we heard last week in Kenya. We met an old chief of the village. Chiefs are, officially, the fathers of all the children in the village, but since Masai warriors can have sex with any of the women in the village, fatherhood is a different concept here.

There is no water or bathrooms in this desert village. We entered one dung hut where people and animals live. It was dark, stuffy, and there was a sick lamb wheezing on the dirt floor.

This is one of the two times of the year when Masai boys (around the age of 12) undergo circumcision. They are sent to live on their own, away from the village, for three months during a "healing" process. Their parents provide goats for food. As part of the rituals, the boys paint their faces white. As we rode in the truck through Tanzania, we saw many of these boys standing by the side of the road, sometimes waving at cars, sometimes yelling at them.

Following the Masai visit, we took a hot, slow drive up a mountain to our campsite. The camp is covered in red dust, but it is nicely landscaped and has a bar, and somehow, an Internet cafe.

Around dinner time, our guide Wilfred found a hedgehog climbing in the bushes near our camp.

Wilfred with a hedgehog.

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