Hello, world! So much has happened in the past week.
Last Wednesday we had our second Non-Program Day (our second day off here). We had the option to beading and make bracelets with Mamas or spend some time with Maasai warriors. I chose the warriors and we started the morning going on a walk outside of the camp. They pointed out different plants and the different purposes they serve. One of them you pull of a stem, bite the end of it till it becomes soft and bristly and you use it to brush your teeth. Its amazing how resourceful they are with every part of the land.
Then we did some spear throwing. Spear throwing is really big among the men in Masaai culture. Sometimes they may have to spear a lion to protect themselves, other times they just play around and can see who can throw the farthest (boys will be boys). The warriors had a good time laughing at all of us trying to throw.
Marni and I throwing spears
Then they danced and sang for us. The men with long hair like to flip all of their hair around while dancing, so I jumped in and joined the fun.
In the afternoon we went to a super touristy lodge right near Amboseli National Park (where we’ve done research). It was super nice, with a big beautiful pool. We all relaxed, got some local beer, played in the pool and took funny GoPro videos underwater. Our entire group felt sad that that is the only experience and impression of Africa many people get.
On Thursday we spent all day processing the data we collected for the census in Amboseli. In the evening our wonderful wonderful center director, Okello, threw us a goat slaughtering. We missed the actual slaughtering part because we were in class, but we got there while they were skinning it. I got to help skin it. I don’t know how I feel about it, but I couldn’t say no to the experience. Everyone went back to class but Marni and I stayed back to Okello. He was telling us about how some locals consider raw goat kidney a delicacy and love to eat it. Basically I would say he was egging us on. So Marni and I both went for it. It wasn’t that bad – it tasted salty and fresh. Picture proof:
Raw goat kidney, pre consumption
Then after class ended we went back to the goat roast and sat around the fire while it was roasting. The tradition of a goat roast is that the youngest male in the group has to eat the goat testicles. But the girls weren’t satisfied that – we wanted to try it to! So I am now proud to say I have not only eaten a raw goat kidney, but goat balls as well.
Sam, Emily & I thrilled to be eating goat
Everyones live reactions after eating the goat balls
Friday we went to the Kimana Wildlife Sanctuary to identify different animals based on their tracks and dung. We walked around on foot, and got pretty close to some zebras. I proclaimed this day as D-Day aka Dung Day. We had worksheets with images of all different types of mammal poop (spoiler alert, they all look the same. Thankfully we had a guide there to help us). I’d like to think I’m an expert on poop now.
Saturday was community service day, and we visited a primary school in Kimana. My group taught English to class seven, which were 14 year olds. They were so excited that we were there, which felt pretty awesome. After class we set the camera up on self timer and took a goofy picture.
For the rest of the afternoon we ran around with them, danced, played soccer and took LOTS of pictures. All of the girls were amused with the American girls hair. They all have buzzed haircuts, and they thought our hair was “beaaaauutiful” and loved braiding it. We told them they THEY are the ones with beautiful hair.
My friend Peter and I had a really awesome talk with one of the teachers at the school. For anyone who doesn’t know, TOMS is a shoe company who donates a pair of shoes to a child in need every time you purchase a pair. Peter and I noticed that a ton of kids at the primary school were running around with TOMS on, so we asked a teacher about it. He explained that once a year they get a shipment of TOMS shoes for all the kids at the school and that it really helps them out, because most kids there can’t afford shoes. He said that all primary schools in Kenya receive them once a year, but he said this as if he was a little unsure. Regardless this was pretty amazing, because I’ve known about TOMS for years but have never gotten to visit somewhere where they are donated.
I’ve had my reservations about TOMS shoes in the past. For example, when they come into a local town and donate hundreds of shoes, the local cobblers are then totally out of business. That not only hurts the cobblers but also the local economy. I asked the teacher is this hurts the local cobblers business. He said that none of the kids can afford shoes from the cobbler anyway, and when their TOMS get holes in them they take them to the cobbler, so the cobbler still gets business. He explained that he was EXTREMELY thankful to TOMS shoes, because kids can’t attend school without shoes.
Last night a bunch of my friends and I posted on the couch, set up my computer on a chair across from us, and watched the entire Beyonce visual album. Claire (fellow Beyonce adorer) and I dropped all of our Bey knowledge on them. I loved how into it everyone was. I also gave one of my professors a few Beyonce songs and he said he actually likes them. I have successfully convereted a Kenyan into a Beyonce fan. In exchange for the Beyonce songs he gave me two “music videos” that he was in the background of. Gold. Pure gold.
Today we had a field lecture on top of the most beautiful hill. The sky was clear and we had a perfect view of Kilimanjaro, as well as all the hills, homes and goats down below. We set up our chairs, sat under the sun and listened to our professor. This is how class should always be. Tomorrow we are doing our Kenyan homestay and I CAN’T WAIT.
All in all, 3 weeks in and I’m a happy happy happy gal.