“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Day 5 – Masai Village

Daniel really is fantastic, his driving skills are awesome. The Mara is basically a large swamp which has had quite a lot of rains lately, making a lot of the tracks impassable and elephant damage means many more tracks are blocked. Yet he still knows exactly where he is and how to get us back to camp. Even in the dark. His birding knowledge is also outstanding considering there are around 1300 different species of birds in Kenya.
Our sunrise and planned backlit shots were a disaster this morning. With no moisture in the atmosphere to diffuse the light, the sun was simply too harsh as soon as it peaked over the horizon. Poor Marian has damaged her eyes looking into the sun. Last year she had shingles which infected her eye and the sheer act of looking at the sun through her lens has re-ignited the pain. So close to the equator the sun is fierce and when you are concentrating on shooting, it’s easy to forget how dangerous it can be. My lips are burnt and chapped and the hot wind when driving across the plains takes with it any moisture left in your face and hands until everything feels taught and raw. For luggage weight reasons I didn’t bring any moisturiser with me, only a tube of Aloe vera and a tube of factor 50 sun block. If only I had tested the new lens I could have swapped it for a kilo of moisturiser!
On the way back from our morning drive, we visited a Masai Village. But since Marian and Sheila had already been and Sandy wasn’t fussed, I was the only one who wanted to go in. David decided he had better not let me go alone, so we both got out of the vehicle and went to meet the village chief elder. All the females in the village were lined up in the centre singing and dancing and the chief explained that since we had paid him, we were now free to take as many photos as we liked and ask as many questions as we liked. Unfortunately I found the whole experience a bit over-whelming and so didn’t take many pictures, but joined in with the dancing instead. After a fascinating (but chokingly smelly) tour of the inside of one of their houses, we were taken to their ‘market’ to choose which souvenirs we wanted to purchase. I only had enough money on me for one item and so chose a fly swat made from wildebeest tail and decorated with Masai beading.
The afternoon drive saw us back with Mrembo and Manky-Eye and I managed to catch a distance shot of Manky-Eye chasing a Jackal.

We also discovered today the reason why the person whose place I had taken had decided to cancel and lose their deposit (and more) - apparently they had read a news report that the Masai Mara is home to AK47-weilding desperados who often come and raid the camps!!! So far we have not seen or heard of any such activity. Although we did today see something which is a little difficult to explain....

We were out on the plains and watched as a white Toyota truck pulled over and a couple of men got out and lifted the bonnet. Then they tried to flag a passing tourist safari jeep down which sensibly drove straight past them. Then to our surprise the men simply shut the bonnet and drove off. It could have been a trap which didn't work, or there could simply have been a very innocent explanation. We didn't hang around to find out.

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