Christmas in Africa


I sat and watched wildebeest and zebras parade past the front of our tent until our wake-up call arrived in the person of a Maasai bearing coffee and hot chocolate.

We went on a longer walk this morning and for the first time really saw very little beyond vast varieties of poo. We did see some elephants, but again we couldn’t get anywhere near as close as we did in the car. We were hunting lion and saw some tracks and spoor, but no actual lions. Vultures and warthog were probably the highlights. It was still an amazing experience to be tracking in the African bush though.

After breakfast we drove to a Maasai boma or village. The boma is a large area defined by a thorn fence – these are serious thorns each a couple of inches long and needle-pointed. Inside the main circle there are further thorn circles for the cows and the goats and hen there are small round huts. Each hut belongs to a wife of the man who owns the whole boma. The Maasai can have many wives who live in a strict order of precedence. Inside the huts there is a small central cooking fire a bedding space for the man and any sons, another for the woman and daughters, and a further one for livestock. really it’s all very cramped. It’s surprisingly cool thanks to the lack of windows but that also means there’s nowhere for the smoke from the cooking to go.

We were surrounded on our visit by a group of little girls who were generally shy but goaded each other into saying hello. The boys were all out guarding the herds of cows and goats. The women persuaded us to buy some of their beadwork, which we saw as the nice thing to do in return for them letting us wander about their houses; though we still negotiated them down, just as a matter of saving face.

After an amazing evening Christmas dinner we went on a night game drive. Our best Christmas present was seeing baby fox-eared bats – unbelievably cute

Our other Christmas present was the fabulous dinner from the staff who have been wonderful. Our waiter during our stay was Richard, a vastly dignified and friendly man who has been lovely to us. It was an interchange with Richard that really drove home the cultural differences that were simmering in our minds after the visit to the Maasai village this morning. Callum had used his iPad to identify the International Space Station in the night sky and we all went out to look at it passing overhead. Richard came out and joined us and gently asked what it was. We explained, and he literally looked astonished at the idea of men in space and then quietly asked “Is it as big as a star?” The people here are really living a very simple and unspoiled life, I’m not saying it’s necessarily a good life – for example if you are a girl married off at 13 – but it’s very genuine and a long way from things we take for granted at home.

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