Kenya and Tanzania - and Dubai - Fall 2015 travel blog






















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dancing with the Bushmen

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hunting and singing

I thought that the Masai were primitive people. Silly me. Today we went back to the Stone Age. Fred had a tough time preparing us for this optional tour. He said we were traveling to no particular place to see people who might or might not be there. He wanted us to leave at 6am to get there early before they wandered away. After an hour's drive on a road even worse than the horrible roads we've been on, we came to a tribe that truly lives off the land, the Hadzabe. Fred called them Bushmen; I'd call them cave men. They hunt with bows and arrows, putting a poison on the tip that they prepare from a special root. Skulls of various animals were displayed all around and they wore skins on their torsos and heads. In a small nod to modernity they had on filthy shorts. It began to pour and we gathered around them under a stone outcropping where they had built a fire to wait out the rain. They sang us a song; we sang them a song.

Eventually the rain stopped and we went outside to meet the ladies, who had huddled somewhere else. Besides tending the children, they gather roots and other vegetable matter to contribute to the meal. They have a meal whenever they have something to eat. Someone had caught a large gennet this morning, so a meal was imminent as soon as the rain stopped and all of us tourists got out of their hair. The men demonstrated their shooting techniques and then handed the bows and arrows to us. Surely we would starve, even with the poison tips. Then they gathered to sing and dance and welcomed us to join in. As always we exited through the gift shop. I bought what appeared to be a hanging beaded drinking glass made out of a gourd. Given the hygiene there, if I ever use it, I'll be drinking grain alcohol.

A short drive brought to us to the Age of Metal. This tribal group called the Iraqw lived in mud huts in an enclosure built from dried vegetation. The man had three wives; each had her own hut. They supplemented their income by foraging for trash pieces of metal, which they melted and reformed. A major export was to the cavemen, who needed their metal tips for their arrows. They also hammered metal pieces into bracelets, which they exported to us. They heated the metal by burning charcoal and pumping the bellows by hand. They also had chickens and the ever present cows. Because the cows were part of the women's dowries, the man had to ask for their permission whenever he wanted to cash one in.

In the afternoon we wandered around town with a local who seemed to know everyone in Katura. We visited the hospital and he took us to the maternity ward, where a woman had just given birth this morning. One of their ambulances was a stretcher attached to a motor cycle for getting into those hard to reach places. We went into tiny hole in the wall restaurants run by his friends and stopped for a beer in the local dance hall. We were surprised by how many small hotels we saw. They advertised normal rooms, which meant no bathroom facilities as well as self contained rooms, which went for $10/night. This tour would have been much cheaper if OAT had put us in such facilities. We were tempted to buy some of those fashionable sandals made out of tires that everyone seems to be wearing here! The last stop was the market where locals get fish food stuffs and spices. We took a ride back to the lodge in motor cycle tuk tuk cabs, an experience that shocked our fellow travelers, but took us back to our tour of India.

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