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Title image - BAI takes you to:  Kilimanjaro
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Kilimanjaro Expedition Dispatch

March 14, 2008 – Team Visits Maasai Boma

Jambo! Mimi ni Karen. I've prepared today's dispatch

We left in the early morning mist, circling the crater rim en route to the Serengeti. We drove for several hours on a dusty, dirt and gravel "washboard" road. At one point, our driver, Jacob, inquired if we wanted to check the tire pressure. Confusion turned to agreement as we realized this was code for a "bush break". Jacob cautioned us to keep an eye out for Maasai boys and lions as we searched for our preferred locations. His warning ensured we were back in the Land Rover in no time.

A group of Maasai men gather around

A group of Maasai men gather around

The Kili climb team has spent the last two weeks with the Chagga people and are now enjoying their week with the Maasai. Most Chagga speak Swahili and English. Maasai, however, speak Maa and very little English.

We stopped at a Maasai Boma, or village, where we were warmly welcomed. The women sang a traditional song, while the men performed a "jumping" dance. For centuries, the Maasai have tenaciously defended their pastoral lifestyle and culture. Today, they represent a small minority of the Tanzanian population and are confined to the northern savannah. Our guide, Taiko, is one of a minority who has attended school and learned English. He explained that the Boma is comprised of a central area used for meetings, dances and ceremonies. Small huts where the families live surround the central area. The huts are built by the women out of acacia branches, mud and cow dung. If the water-proofing dung is applied daily in the rainy season, the hut will last for 5-6 yrs.

Inside the dark hut, there are 3 small "bedrooms" and a "kitchen". A fire is used for cooking and heat. The Maasai customarily eat only milk, meat and blood. However, global warming has significantly impacted the savannah forcing them to supplement their diet with maize, rice and beans. The young women marry around age 18 and the young warriors in their early 20's. Both boys and girls must be circumcised before marriage can occur. Most Maasai girls today continue the tradition of circumcision for fear of being outcasts. Typically, a Maasai man has 3-4 wives.

Maasai women are usually adorned with beautiful handmade jewellery

Maasai women are usually adorned with

beautiful handmade jewellery

The Maasai must buy the water for their Boma. A truckload costs $170 for 60 liters, which lasts for about 10 days. To finance the cost of the water, the Maasai women sell beautiful beaded handicrafts. As we approached the Boma "marketplace", we were swarmed by "sellers". Within minutes, our arms were covered with bracelets. Having purchased many bracelets, necklaces, earrings, shields and such, we briefly visited their school, then climbed back into our Land Rover.

Our next stop was the Oldupai Gorge and Museum, a 2 million year old archeological site. Here, Louis and Mary Leakey traced the history of mankind and discovered the first evidence of homo erectus ("upright man").

We then said goodbye to our Maasai friends as we entered the gates of the Serengeti. Flat, savannah plains as far as the eye could see, eventually transitioned into rock formations called "kopes". Eventually, trees, bushes and hills reappeared. Over the next few hours, we saw: gazelle, ostrich, hyena, antelope, zebra, warthog, water buffalo, impala, wildebeest and many birds such as vultures and bustards.

Tonight, we'll likely be saying "Lala Salama" quite early as we prepare for a full day in the Serengeti tomorrow.