Friday, February 20, 2015 – Our last day in the Massai Mara

Today was a free day for everyone to relax and pack up to head back to Canada.  Some went on an early morning drive and others joined me and Kelvin to see our projects in the Mara.

Dr. Kelvin Hill is also the chair of the ABW steering committee so he was very interested in seeing the project in the Mara area.

We started with the Irbaan school that is performing incredibly well.

Dr. Hill seeing the work of the students

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A Visit to the Talek community Health Centre

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Construction of the dormitory is progressing well

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We all went to take a closer look at a Maasai village

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Driver appreciation evening went very well. Lawrence received a sing and dance from the younger members of our group

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Each evening after a debrief we have a member of our team share an inspirational thought.  Stephanie did a great job tonight on the need to care for others.

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Went on a night game drive

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The evening ended with a bush dinner under the stars

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From Leanne Grinde

February 20, 2015

We had a 6:30am morning game drive!  We really wanted to see a Leopard (“chui” in Swahili), our last unseen animal from the Big Five.  Although we searched all the regular places that Leopards are usually found, we did not manage to see any.  However, we did see some cheetahs lounging out in the open.  There was a mother and her 3 cubs.  Some other safari vehicles were there with huge cameras.  They were actually from “Animal Planet” and the “Discovery Channel.”  We continued driving in search of more animals.  We heard Lawrence on the radio: “Peter, Peter!”  More Swahili.  We managed to make out the words “Halacka, Halacka,” and “Simba.”  Hurry — lion!  Over the radio, we heard Peter say “Twende, Twende.”  Let’s go!  Lawrence raced our van to the site where the lions were gathering.  We saw 2 lions slowly sauntering across the Savannah.  Then 2 more.  It was a family of a Pregnant Mother, 2 young adult females, and 1 young adult male.  The sight was really magnificent.  It was good to see the tenderness of the lions in their family, especially after having witnessed the blood-thirsty zebra feast from the day before.  They rubbed against each other and ran to meet one another with “Lion Hugs.”  We stayed there for quite a while, and didn’t want to leave.

We came back for a late breakfast.  At 11:00am, some of us went to see some of the work that A Better World has been doing in the surrounding communities.  We visited Talek where there was a medical clinic that had been A Better World Project, funded by Peter & Kathy Lacey, Dr. Mandy Hyde & Daryl Hyde, and Ruth Brucks.  It is run by nurse practitioners and clinical officers (local people).  They give vaccinations, handle pregnancies, and deal with many diseases like HIV, TB, and Brucella.  New additions have been added in the past 4 years.  Then we were taken to a school that A Better World helped to organize and fund.  In 2000, Eric discovered the need for a school when he found a man teaching 13 students under a big tree.  Since then, buildings have been put together, and they are in the process of creating a girls dormitory on the site.  Some of the kids walk over and hour every day to come to school, and some sleep on the floors in the school buildings.  There are now 580 children attending the school, and the numbers are still increasing.  It is quite amazing how much progress has been made.  The kids enjoyed cornering Mika and I against the wall to feel our soft pale skin and fine blonde hair.  We went into the dining room as the kids were having lunch.  I tried to seek some out and make conversation, but many seemed disinterested and preferred just to eat and stare at us.  But then one of the teachers came to me and showed me to a table where a bunch of teenage boys sat.  He said they had some questions.  As soon as I sat down, a huge crowd gathered around.  They wanted to know where I was from, how far away it was, what our favorite sport is, what the biggest animal is, etc.  Then they asked if I spoke Swahili.  I uttered a few broken Swahili words that I knew which provided them with much entertainment.  Then we had to go.  I am starting to feel like every time we have to leave a place, all I want to do is spend more time there.

We came back to the hotel for lunch.  Then at 4:00pm, Eric took us to meet the Maasai people.  On our way, Lawrence showed us the small dirty stream where people used to have to get water.  Since then, ABW has helped to provide the people with clean drinking water just outside the Maasai village.  The drivers all seem to think a great deal of Eric and ABW.

When we arrived at the village, we started out watching the Maasai Warriors dance and jump.  They jump to compete with each other as a sport.  Some of the Maasai pulled Juhoon and Scott in to jump with them.  Then we met with the Chief and his son (who translated what the chief said).  The Chief gave a lengthy speech about how Canadians, and ABW have helped with their community building schools and helping to provide water.  Some of us ladies had the opportunity to dance and sing with the Maasai women.  Then we were shown a Maasai home.  It had 5 “rooms” which were really more like 6 by 5 foot spaces.  There was a place where the Husband/Wife sleep, a Kitchen (which is really just a small firepit and a shelf of dishes), a place where the Children Sleep, a storage room, and a space to put calves.  The houses are built by the women in the village (who really do most of the work).  It takes them 3 months to build one hut.  They build the framework out of sticks, then cover it with mud and cow dung to make it water proof.  We went to their shop where they make souvenirs for the tourists who come.  I had no money left so I didn’t buy anything.

I went out to see some of the cows, and asked 2 Maasai men if they would show me.  Their school names were Mike and Daniel, although they had different Maasai names.  They showed me which were their own cattle by the brand.  I told them that we used to have cows but that we sold them.  They looked confused and said, “But where do you get your milk.”  They thought I was crazy when I told them that I no longer drink milk, but have switched to a Soy/Almond variety.  Cows are what make up the Maasai life.  They get milk, meat, and blood from them.  I asked them if they actually like drinking cow blood, and they said it is very nice.  I told them I thought it was disgusting, but they said that if I were to try it I would like it.  Probably will never happen!  I was surprised when they asked me to spell my name so that they could add me on Facebook!  What?  They live primarily on Blood, Milk, Meat, marry multiple wives, live in huts made from feces, but they have Facebook!  They use their arm like a chalkboard and find a small twig to scratch the letters on their arms.

In the evening, we had “Driver’s Appreciation Night.”  Each van payed a tribute to their drivers and gave them a card with tips in it.  Peter’s Van (the “mature group”) did a little skit showing the typical day safari in the van.  Our van belonged to Lawrence (the “youth van”).  We sang the song “Do it All for You” by Bryan Adams, as that turned out to be one of Lawrence’s favorite songs during our trips.  We also made up a ridiculous song full of jumbled Swahili words that Lawrence had taught us.

We went for a night time game drive and saw many giraffes (“Twiga” in Swahili).  It is so neat how their necks all reach above the trees.  They move very slowly and gracefully.

We knew that supper would be a surprise because Eric told us it was something that we wouldn’t want to miss.  We heard word that we would be eating at the same Maasai Village that we had visited that day.  It worried me a little because I thought that maybe we would be getting the traditional Maasai meal of meat, blood, and milk.  This is why we were surprised when our night safari vans arrived back at the Fig Tree.  One of the Maasai staff showed us down a very long path that we had never seen before.  We walked for quite a while, wondering where we could be going.  Finally, we emerged from under the canopy of foliage and came into a little opening, surrounded by forest area.  There were 2 mud huts, similar to the Maasai homes, and a table lit with candles between them.  A bonfire was softly glowing a distance from the table.  Behind some shrubbery was a buffet, hot and ready for us to indulge in.  The whole area was lit with candles and lanterns.  The stars were so clear from our little dinner paradise.  We began eating, but were interrupted mid meal by some loud hooting and yelling, coming towards us from outside of the opening.  Suddenly a group of Maasai men arrived, singing, dancing, and jumping.  They entertained us with their songs and dancing for about 15 minutes and then disappeared as quickly as they had appeared.  We finished our meal and then gathered by the fire to say our thanks to the staff at Fig Tree and give them their tips (Eric ensures that this is done at every place we stay).  Us Canadians sang “Home, Home on the Range.”  The staff at Fig Tree all sang their own song, “Jambo.”

Tonight was the experience of a lifetime.  Tomorrow we head back to Nairobi and fly home.  I am excited to go home so I can see Jeff.  But I don’t want to leave yet.  None of us are looking forward to going back to dark, icy Canada to get back to life, school, exams, work.  However, this is the way things go.  All we can do is hope to learn from our experiences here and perhaps come back some day.  11:23pm and I think I will get some rest for the long, sad goodbye tomorrow.