Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Day one of our Safari and meeting the Messai

On our list of things to do was go to visit a Messai village. It was strange to see a village of people living in a primitive and traditional way right alongside a more modern city. 

The protocol was to have the driver approach the village and then stop and wait for someone who had authority to come out and negotiate the visit. There was a fee to visit, I believe it was 40 dollars a car and then we were welcomed into the village.  We were welcomed by the chief's son who was educated in school so he knew English very well. He was friendly and talkative. I noticed many people's teeth were banded with brown which I learned is a result of the water in Arusha and made me again think of things we take for granted. 

We were greeted in the village with a welcome song and dance that was accompanied by the vocals, hums, grunts of the other tribe members. We were draped with the traditional cloth that the Messai would wear and us girls were given wide collar necklaces to wear. We were invited to dance in the line with the women which was more of a shuffle, walk and jump while shrugging our shoulders to make our necklace jump in time to the song. I was surprised that I was about the same height as the rest of the women in the tribe. 

The men also danced and then invited the men/boys in our group to join in. 

The men were impressive with their jumping. Some of them jumped quite high and then they would slap their feet on the ground as they landed to make more of an impression. Their sandals were crafted from the treads of old tires held together with twine. Because the bottom of the sandal was a tire tread and a uniform size you wouldn't be able to tell which direction the person was walking. 

This man in the blue was the warrior of the tribe. He was the only man in the tribe who grew his hair out long.

 When we visited one of the other visitor centers we learned that the warriors all had the same hair styles, ear jewelry and clothing which makes them all look similar. We also learned that the warrior doesn't marry. I'm not really sure what he's doing with his hand but he looks pretty intense. 

The boys participating in the boy's dance.

Jeff is standing with the chief's son who was our guide in the village. (He was the very tall one)

Ashley is standing in front of a couple of the huts. They were built in a little bit of a spiral so instead of a door you just walked into the side and came into an open room. Since they didn't have doors I guess there are times that they find snakes in their hut.

The huts were constructed with grass, mud and dung. 

Jeff's selfie with our new friends.

This couple invited us to take a tour of their house.

At night they would sleep on a section of floor on a mat and had fires inside of the hut. I guess because the door was open it would allow the smoke to leave. The men commonly had multiple wives and would take turns sleeping in different huts. If the man was home we were told his spear would be sticking out of the ground outside of the entrance. 

This was the village school. It was an area surrounded by sticks with a chalk board and a teacher. 

We brought the children various things and this was the point where we were allowed to give them what we brought. The teacher didn't seem to be super excited that we were interrupting but she tolerated it. Joel had given one of the kids a spider-man toy and she had to take it away because two children were arguing over it. 

Jeff had fun giving out the treats to the kids. 

This was our favorite kid with his handful of candy. 

We also saw a demonstration of how the village men start fire. 

It took a few tries but they finally got it going.

At the end of our tour they put some pressure on us to buy something from their store. It looked like some of the things had been there for quite awhile.  They told us stories of how the women worked on these items and we had to negotiate the prices with the women through an interpreter. They told stories about the utensils that were carved by the women for the chiefs and all the time they put into it. I thought they looked very similar to the gift shop things but we bought a few things which were 5 times the price of the gift shop. We found out later that almost none of the items were made by the villagers they were castoffs given to them from the other gift shops which they sold passing them off as their own. Well I guess at least the money still went to help the village.

After visiting the village we went to Lake Manyara.
We booked our Safari though a company that contracted with the company that we actually were with and the drivers didn't get the full itinerary. Luckily they fed us a meal that was missed at a local food place (food wasn't good, we all felt sick the next day and I got stuck in their bathroom out back and broke a piece of the wall off trying to get the door open, ha ha) and they brought us to Lake Manyara which they weren't expecting. It ended up being a great way to start our safari. 

The roads winded through the lake, trees and shrubs and right away we saw monkeys everywhere. We had an encounter with elephants that were right next to the road and even came out on to the road right in between our cars. 

Baboons were everywhere. 

Throughout the safari we viewed everything from the pop top and the open windows. Because there were too many of us we had to have 2 cars. We would switch off every so often so we could hang out together. 

The open top and windows made for good viewing but at the end of every day we would be covered in a layer of dirt. The good thing was we were able to shoo out the titsi flies easier with everything open. 

One of our drivers. He was very knowledgeable about what animals we were viewing and could tell us all about them. 

We saw hippos which are actually very don't want to try and get in the water with these guys. 

We drove on roads that went right alongside the lake and also drove through the water. 

We were able to get out of the cars and explore some of the lake by walking on the raised walkways and were able to get a better view. 

It was a beautiful day.

Robert and Ian were the only ones that came from the Zook family. Angela stayed home with Paisley who probably wouldn't appreciate the kind of traveling we did. Ian enjoyed the trip and was always ready to explore and had energy from day to night. 

This baboon was giving us quite the looks...

We had our introduction to wildebeests. By the end of the trip we had seen thousands of wildebeests. It was interesting that their coloring was different depending on the valley they lived in. 

These wildebeests were more tan and others we saw later in the trip were dark brown. 

Ian enjoyed waving out the windows at whoever would wave back the entire trip. He said "hi" to everyone and everything. 

We saw this warthog and the first thing that comes to mind is "Pumba!"

Along with hundreds of wildebeests we saw hundreds of zebra while on the trip. I didn't realize that zebra and wildebeests are such good friends. They were usually always seen together and even migrate together running alongside each other. 

We left the lake during the late afternoon and headed off to our hotel for the night. We got there by the time it was already dark, then ate a dinner and went to bed. 

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