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Tanzania Trog Part 8: Maasai Village

The Maasai Village deserves its own entry because it was such a strange and interesting experience (not like everything else on this hasn't been strange and interesting). On our second day at the Ngorongoro Crater we drove just outside the park to visit a Maasai village, or boma.

What a welcome we received! We were greeted by the chief and his son, who gave us the tour of the village. The men and women savg a welcome song for us and danced. The men dance by jumping very high in the air while the women show their appreciation of the men's dancing and singing by shrugging their shoulders which is actually a full body movement. The allowed us to join in and gave us their own ornate necklaces to wear. Both the men and women wear jewelry that is either beaded or made from cow bones. The women wear these huge beaded necklaces that fit around their necks and extend outwards.

Welcoming us to the village.

Maasai villagers welcoming us

Maasai women showing my mom and sisters how to dance. They had given them their necklaces to wear as well.

Maasai village

I got up there and danced too but obviously i couldn't film that while i was doing it. So here's a pic of me wearing a Maasai necklace.

Wearing a necklace that belongs to one of the village women

After the welcome song we were split into two groups and were given a tour of their huts. The huts have a thatched roof and the walls are made of cow dung, which is water proof and lasts for ten years. The inside of a hut consists of a "room" for the wife, one for the husband, and one for the children. The rooms are really just sleeping spaces with a mattress made of cowhide. In the center of the hut is the fire which serves as the cooking and eating area. The huts are extremely small and short with only a few holes in the wall for ventillation. Because it was so dark inside the hut I wasn't able to get very good pictures of the inside.

Sleeping area inside a hut

Sleeping area in a hut

Women outside hut chopping wood

Woman chopping wood next to a hut

The Maasai men can have many wives but once he leaves a wife to live with another she must solely care for their children and build the hut it needs to be rebuilt. The Maasai eat twice a day. In the morning they drink a mixture of milk and cow's blood that is extracted by piercing the vein in the neck so the can still live. They also eat in the evening either of a porridge made from millet and/or the meat from their livestock. Cows are extremely important in Maasai culture. They believe that God says that every cow in the world belongs to them so if you are a farmer or another tribe and you have cows they will steal them. They utilize every part of the cow including its blood, milk, meat, bones, and dung.

After the tour of the hut we were allowed or peruse a large selection of crafts the village people had made such as neclaces, bracelets, clubs, and shields. After we left I realized they had intentionally seperated us from each other so they could milk each of us for our money. The prices they were asking for the necklaces and bracelets were obviously marked way, way up, but it turns out i'm a pretty good bargainer so i talked them way down to half price or less on everything i wanted. I was surrounded by an entire family while I shopped. I quickly learned not to touch the merchandise because they would then encourge me to buy it by taking it off the "rack" and putting it on me. I wound up buying a ton of stuff. The family was so thrilled that they gave me a bunch of stuff for free and kept exclaiming in maasai and touching me on the shoulders. The son of the family, the only one who spoke english, was so thrilled that he asked me for my email address. Yes, someone who lives in a hut made of cow dung asked me for my email address. For all their primitive customs the Maasai have adapted to the modern world. Many of them were carrying cellphones and most of the young men go to university, which is why the one guy had an email address.

My whole shopping experience had taken so long that my family nearly forgot about me and almost left me. Thankfully, my sister's boyfriend remembered me or else i would have wound up spending the night with the Maasai. Apparently, it was quite a sight as I emerged from the village surrounded by a whole family who were so thrilled that I had purchased so much stuff that they probably would have adopted me. My family now constantly teases me about how they're going to have to marry me off to the Maasai. According to our guide James, because of my very fair skin and wide hips my bride price would be 75 to 150 cattle. Not bad! I think my parents might just become cattle barrens.

For the rest of my pictures of the Maasai village.. http://www.flickr.com/photos/11029015@N05/sets/72157605748345890/#



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 2nd, 2008 02:37 pm (UTC)
coooooooooooool. well, all except your family almost forgetting you. that's not too cool!
Jul. 2nd, 2008 06:37 pm (UTC)
it was very cool. i would have been so pissed if my family had left me. thank god my sister's boyfriend remembered me.
Jul. 8th, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC)
that was absolutely amazing!
Jul. 9th, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)
it was pretty damn cool. my poor niece was completely terrified the entire time. when we were in the hut she started crying because she was so scared.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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