Monday November 12, 2012
Local interaction day! After a good breakfast, we went to a Maasai village near the Tarangire road junction. The collection of buildings surrounded the central plaza and corral. The small buildings were a mix of circular and rectangular dwellings that were gray stucco, with peaked thatched roofs. Twenty toddlers and two elderly women kindergartened under an acacia as we drove in.
Some washed clothes were hung on the corrals thorny acacia branches to dry. After we parked and got out, we were introduced to the Headman who seemed to be in his late thirties, and then later to his elderly father, the retired Headman. Soon the ladies of the village danced out from behind one of the houses.
They were all dressed in fine blue attire. (Turns out that it was wedding! finery.) Ladies dance and sing. Us guys were the designated photographers. Meg and the ladies were greeted by a local Maasai lady and then were each draped in appropriate fabric robes and taught to dance.
Since it was the beginning of rainy season, building maintenance was scheduled; cow dung-mud mix was to be spread on the exterior walls and dry grass/reeds needed to be laid on the thatched roof. This is ladies work. Each one got their hands full of the dung-clay mix and spread it on the exterior walls of the building.
When all the “work” had been completed and appropriate photos taken by the guys, it was clean-up time. Washing of hands and finger nails was done.
The Maasai ladies used acacia thorns to clean under the fingernails. More lady dancing and singing.
Nine young men in traditional men’s red robes arrived to do the jumping dances. The other young men were out tending cattle. Now, it was men dancing and singing and jumping. The guides did try to do some of the jump dancing but our tour guys really were not get involved.
That jump- dancing was a very strenuous endeavor and certainly we would have embarrassed ourselves with our lack of skill and physical conditioning.
The morning visit concluded with the opportunity to look at and but the Maasai ladies’ handicrafts. I felt obligated to find something to takes home. As a small gallery owner, I know the feeling of disappointment when visitors look and smile and pass by to buy from another seller. I carefully placed my two baskets, from two different ladies, in my camera bag. Would I ever use these baskets? Probably not, but that wasn’t the reason for buying them.
Out past the corral and down the road we drove. Next we stopped at a “factory” where the men carved animal sculptures and masks. These were not Maasai. This tribe was the one that did wood carvings. The woods were local ebony, rosewood, and mahogany and the carving was skilled.
Buying $85 of carved ebony pieces, a giraffe and a hippo, proved problematic when it was realized that they didn’t have credit card capabilities. Meg and I scraped together all the US cash we had in our day packs to cover the purchase.
Shopping completed, we were back on the road again, headed for Ngorongoro Crater. We climbed out of the Rift valley and headed up to the rim of the old massive volcanic crater. A decade ago, the road was gravel. Now the paved road brought many visitors to the towns along it. Prosperity had come to town. We drove through town that was famous for bananas and then to the larger town of Karatu.
The luxury lodge was near the rim of the crater. Our room, a real modern room with modern facilities overlooked the gardens. Lunch began at 2 PM. Certainly I would not need dinner at 7 PM. The lodge had CNN on TV and internet for $5 for 30 minutes. I did neither. When we left on Wednesday, we knew that Obama had won even though some of the states had not reported their returns. The details would take care of themselves. Instead, we took a walking tour of the lodge’s large organic coffee, vegetable, and flower gardens. Then we took fine slow warm showers and finished in time to watch the sunset behind the crater rim.