“Call it a clan, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you all it, whoever you are, you need one”. – Jane Howard
Sleeping all alone in the bush is not for the faint at heart. I was exhausted by the end of the day at the Mkuru Maasai Training Camp after all the travel to get there yet as soon as I said goodnight to Camilla, the camp volunteer, and unzipped the canvas door of my tent I felt utterly alone. It was pitch black in the bush and eerily quiet. As I crawled into my bed and pulled up the covers, all I could hear was the whispering of the wind.
Although it was only ten o’clock, it felt like midnight. I have to admit I was a little afraid. Not so much that someone would come to my tent and harm me but just simply afraid of being alone in the bush. I hid under three layers of blankets and tried my best to fall asleep. Eventually I fell asleep and was awoken around three in the morning by the howl of the wind. The sides of the tent flickered in and out violently and it was so incredibly loud that I had to wear ear plugs. Unfortunately I also had to go to the bathroom but remembering what Camilla informed me about the snakes I was way too scared to leave the comforts of my tent. Furthermore it was pitch black out there!
I looked around the tent and fortunately found a small bowl which I used to relieve myself and laughed at the stupidity of it all. It did the trick though and spared me from having to navigate myself out of the tent and into the outhouse that may very well be hosting a cobra. I let the wind lull me to a deep sleep and didn’t awake until well past seven the next morning.
I enjoyed the beautiful view of the bush around me and marveled at how a community of people could live off the land for generations. The life of the Maasai was so incredibly different from mine. How could I ever explain it to my children without them seeing it for themselves?
I packed up my belongings and headed over for breakfast. Although I could have spent another day at the camp enjoying more activities it was time to go. My flight back home was leaving that evening from the Kilimanjaro Airport and I had hours of travel ahead.
I told Jacobo that I wanted to make one more stop to visit another boma before we left. I also secretly wanted to do a little more shopping. I had fallen in love with the gorgeous, brilliant beadwork and jewelry made by the Maasai women and wanted to purchase a few more pieces for gifts.
Jacobo brought me to visit some of his friends that lived on the outskirts of the area. As tradition, it was time for another boma tour and pictures of the beautiful family.
I was introduced to the family and was allowed to take some photos. I loved capturing the beautiful women and children and showing them their image on my digital camera. The children laughed and giggled when they saw themselves!
After my tour of their home, it was time to see the jewelry. The women laid down a blanket and arranged all their colorful jewelry on top for me to see. It was all so beautiful I had a hard time deciding which pieces to buy. I also knew that every piece I purchased would help them survive.
It was so hard to choose. Everything was so beautiful that I wish I could have bought it all. Meanwhile I was also equally mesmerized by the beauty of the Maasai. I couldn’t resist capturing some of their smiles.
Finally my choices were made. As I was about to leave, I was given an unexpected surprise. The matriarch of the community presented me with a beautiful pair of earrings.
Although we couldn’t communicate, our smiles and gratefulness was enough. I felt so incredibly blessed to have experienced a one-on-one visit with the Maasai people. One day wasn’t enough time. Yet it is a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Author’s note: This post is the last one in a series on my visit to the Mkuru Maasai Training Camp. To read all posts in the series, click here.