As we pull up to the familiar Maasai village, I marvel to myself how comfortable I am here in this place. Over the years, I’ve gone from an outsider looking in to calling these people my friends.
I see David, the younger tribal chief, and greet him warmly as I inquire about village life. Everything is going well, and he is happy to show our new group the ways of the Maasai. They lovingly adorn me with a Maasai blanket and walking stick as we all get in line to participate in Maasai welcome dance.
As we jump with the Maasai ( a tradition in their culture to show tribal seniority) my clumsy self busts a sandal. The Maasai try to fix it, but it’s beyond repair. Without a second thought, David gives me his sandals made from tire rubber. They work perfect, as I didn’t really want to walk barefoot in the village, having dung squish between my toes.
As we enter the village, a woman is up to her elbows in Maasai cow dung, repairing a wall of a hut. It is the girls first time seeing this, and their reactions are priceless.
The Maasai have a tradition of giving themselves tattoo’s to show strength. I really wanted to get one this year, but was nervous as I hadn’t seen it done before. The Maasai show us how they make fire with only sticks and a flint stone, and as they are furiously rubbing the sticks together to create heat and friction, David calls out my name to come closer.
I assume it was just to see the fire, but next thing I know they grab the smoking stick and jab it into my arm! I scream in surprise more than pain. First Maasai tattoo done, and I keep my tongue quiet for the second one.
In 2010, I met the oldest person I’d ever seen in Kenya, the eldest tribal chief of this Maasai village. I ask if he is still alive, and David tells me that he is, and takes us outside the village to a large Acacia tree.
He is now over one hundred years old, and was resting in the shade.
As we quietly approach, David reaches down to gently shake the old man awake. As he sits up, a breeze blows his Maasai clothing up, revealing nothing underneath but old man penis and wrinkles of time akin to rings from a redwood tree. The young girls are very embarrassed, I smile uncontrollably.
The life of the Maasai is truly something I never get tired of witnessing, and coming full circle to understanding their way of life has opened my eyes to amazing wonders.
As we were getting ready to leave, I’m talking to my Maasai friends and a fly goes right down my throat ( they are everywhere because of the dung). I chalk it up to just another life experience, and it hasn’t killed me yet.
On the way home, I hear one of the team leaders ask a couple of the girls if they liked it.
“I don’t know…it was kinda gross…”
“but what did you think about seeing a new culture and way of living that is so completely different from the way you live?”
“oh yeah, that was kinda cool…”
I hope so.