A Day in the Life of a Massai, our safari was over and it was time to head back into the Rift valley and meet our good friend James at his village. After some confusion as to what road we turned down to get to the village we arrived and were warmly welcomed by James and his family.

We quickly went about setting up camp underneath the acacia trees just outside the thorn enclosure for the village. We were informed we would have two guides sitting around the fire for the night keeping the hyenas away. We weren’t really sure if they were joking but I guess we were going to find out later. After camp was set up the group was presented with shukas and kangas, traditional Maasai clothing. They are basically large scarves with printed patterns; the ladies’ were red, white and black with a lovely peace dove on the back. The men’s are traditionally plaid or checkered and our gentlemen looked very smart in their brightly coloured outfits. As we were tied into our outfits we felt even more a part of the community. We had arrived late afternoon and the sun was setting, we only had enough time to learn how to milk the goats, tomorrow would be our full day as a Massai. We spent the evening in James’ home talking about the Masaai culture and getting to know his four children, the older ones were eager to practise the English they had learnt in school and we were very surprised to learn their western names. Nema, his two year old daughter had also become very comfortable with the group and climbed up on my Mom’s lap and fell asleep. James told us we would be waking at 5:35 am sharp; we all questioned this specific time, it must have some meaning, was that sunrise in the Rift Valley? Upon enquiry we learned it was just the time we were getting up silly muzungas (non African).

We were woken by roosters crowing and the rustlings of our tents no time for breakfast yet we had goats and cows to milk. Heading over to the goats we weren’t really sure how productive we would be and were hoping they wouldn’t be relying on our efforts for breakfast. Some of us were naturals and you could tell who had a farm backgrounds and others not

so much. We gave the ladies of the village a good laugh several times at our timidness and terrible technique. After they realized we were not going to be great milkers anytime soon it was time for the men to herd the goats out to graze around the village. They were given long sticks to keep the goats under control and strict instructions not to lose the goats either. As the men headed off in one direction it was our job to gather firewood, yes we are in Africa in the Rift valley so we hadn’t seen many large trees. We were handed several long pieces of nylon which we would use to wrap the wood into a bundle and then sling over our foreheads and carry it on our backs. After bundling the wood we stopped at James’ mothers’ house to deliver a bundle to her, one less chore for her to do today. She was so happy to get the delivery it was a surprise.

We met the men heading back to camp for a breakfast break from the goat herding and joined them. We were glad, we fueled up as our next task was the ever important gathering water. Luckily at James’ compound a water tank has been installed by an American lady who lives there six months of the year doing aid work in the area. Instead of hiking several miles to the river and back for water we filled our jugs varying from 20 liters in size and down. We needed to take our shuka’s, a large scarf and wrap it around the handle of the jug or bottom of the jug to make a sling to carry it. We could then put it on our forehead and rest the water jug on our backs and use our arms to hold the bottom if needed.

As we hoisted the water on our backs and started walking we were very happy the trip to the river had been cut out as we headed off down the road to James’ sisters’ house to deliver the water. We were met with a huge smile of appreciation she didn’t know we were delivering water and we saved her several hours of work. We had delivered enough water for the day for cooking, drinking, washing and the animals. We walked back to the village with large smiles of satisfaction on our faces after all the hard work of carrying the water under the hot African sun . We also had a laugh at all we had accomplished and it wasn’t even noon yet. We were looking forward to what the afternoon had in store for us and also our promised walk to the Scrotum brush or toothbrush tree for our very own Massai toothbrush.

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