Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kenya Day 5: Christmas in May

Day 5: Mulot Market

On the 5th day of our trip, Finn & Rudi took us to Mulot Market, about 1.5 hours from Bogani. The market happens twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays and is in full swing by about 10:30am. For food, we saw mostly potatoes, beans, avocado, sugarcane and sacks of salt, measured carefully to sellers in different sized containers. I wanted very much to take home some pink salt but save for my ziplock bag containing all my toiletries, I had nothing safe to put it in.

Day 5: Mulot Market
We were given 200 Ksh (Kenyan shillings) and a name. With the 200 Ksh we had to buy our person a present, utilzing our new Swahili ("Pesa ngapi?) and bargaining skills. I drew Ben and while I overheard him expressing a desire for car parts, I thought it better to stick with some souvenirs, a deck of Obama playing cards and a bandana printed with the Kenyan flag and colors.

Day 5: Mulot Market
I also purchased a few souvenirs, not knowing that this would be our only chance to do so. Though crowded and busy, the market was full of smiling faces and color. Looking back at this now, this is one of my favorite parts of the trip, as it was one of the only times we were able to interact with local Kenyan people on our own and to experience a real market. I very much wanted to eat the mandazi, chapati and frozen ice drinks being sold but we were warned not to. I was a little disappointed as eating street food is such a great way to experience a country!

Day 5: Fin & Wilson starting out our hike
After our day at the market, we went on a warrior hike with Wilson, Finn and Rudi. Bogani Cottages sits at the base of a wide mountain, and we were going to the top.

Day 5: Weird orange flowers
This is a plant I'd spied from the car several times. Not sure what it's called but I've never seen anything like it before, with several full-sized flowers on each "branch."

Day 5: Giant cactus!
This is a gigantic cactus we walked past, almost blocking out the sun. I never expected to find these in Kenya!

Day 5: Our crew at the top of the mountain
Our group at the top of the mountain. It was not an easy hike - there were no trails and often Wilson had to bust out the machete to clear branches away.

Day 5: African sage
This is African sage, which smells basil-y and citrus-y at the same time. It's also called deodorant plant, and the Maasai place a few branches under their arms for a few minutes, as a natural way to deodorize.

Day 5: Rain in the distance
Later that afternoon, we gathered everyone and headed out to the field at the base of the mountain for Maasai weapons training. There, they had set up folding camp chairs and a table full of snacks and drinks. And by drinks I mean Tuskers and wine. I wasn't so sure we should be wielding weapons as we drank but in the spirit of things, I downed two glasses of wine.
In the photo above, you can see a rainstorm in the distance.

Day 5: Weapons Training
We were taught to hurl congos and shoot a bow & arrow. It's a lot harder than it looks to keep both arrow straight and bow upright, at the same time.

Throughout their young lives, Maasai men are trained to use these weapons. Also when they are young they are cut with machetes and burned, to prepare themselves for manhood. When they are the right age, they and other children of the same age are circumcised in a grand ceremony. The burning and cutting is to prepare them for the pain of circumcision - if they cry out or flinch it is very shameful and it takes years for them to gain back the respect of their family and community. After going through this ceremony with other boys, they are brothers for life. 

Day 5: The Green Mambo stands regally
Jim stands tall & proud as the Green Mambo

Team UM - here we are, the essay contest winners. Now trained Maasai warriors! (Minus the burn and machete scars) We are holding the congas we purchased at Mulot. These can be hurled at a target in the distance, or used in hand-to-hand combat. I also discovered that the little pointed nub at the tip is good for scratching your back. An awesome weapon, in any case.

We had been bugging Flo to take us to a local bar, so that night they set up a campfire at Bogani, complete with a cooler full of Tuskers and wine and all the makings of some S'mores.

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