Published: February 12th 2012February 12th 2012
Maasai village in Arusha. Most of these photos were taken by a Maasai girl who took over my camera for a while!
We visited a second Maasai village before leaving our camp at Arusha. It was smaller than the one at the Masai Mara, less homes and people, and its proximity to the town meant that the villagers weren't as sheltered from the modern world as before. Children came running out to meet us when we entered the village, and our Maasai guide played on his mobile phone while we spoke to the children and let them snap away on our cameras. It was bizarre to think that they keep so many old ways and yet they've got Facebook. It made it less real, but it was still an interesting visit.
The guide this time spoke to us about circumcision of young Maasai, explaining that teenaged boys who are to be circumcised wear black instead of the traditional red and paint their faces white. They aren't allowed to cry during the procedure (which is done without anaesthesia), and if they do then they aren't cast out from the tribe, but they are considered to be weak, and they will never marry or be respected. Female circumcision has been banned all over the world, but some Maasai tribes still practice it in secret
when the girls turn eight. For the boys it is a rite of passage, a way of initiating them as warriors, but the guide didn't seem able to explain what purpose it serves for girls - which says it all, really.
I can't agree with all aspects of the Maasai way of life, but I do respect it and their right to live as they always have done.
We camped overnight in a town called Merangu, which is at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. It was too cloudy to see the mountain on the way in, but we saw it the following morning as we started our drive to Dar Es Salaam. I wasn't as impressed with it as I had expected to be. It certainly didn't blow me away like other things I have seen here, but I took a load of photos anyway, and it was good to have the chance to look at it, because I know I'm not likely to see it again.
The eleven hour drive to Dar Es Salaam was uneventful until we reached the city itself. Traffic suddenly became manic, with pedestrians risking their lives to run out in front
of vehicles just to cross the road. I still can't say whether Dar, as it's called by many, was as crazy as Nairobi or more so. Boys ran alongside our truck, holding fruit and sunglasses for sale up to our windows. Beggars sat on the floor with their legs outstretched, hands lifted up, whilst women dressed in colourful saris glided past with bags and baskets balanced on their heads. The smell of burning rubber mixed with that of kebabs and corn on the cob. There was so much to see there, and the challenge is doing it without looking like too much of a tourist.
Tomorrow we travel to Zanzibar, and I can't wait. It seems like a long time since I last slept in a bed, with real sheets and real pillows, but actually it's only been a week and a half. I love the camaraderie of this trip, of sitting around a campfire under the stars, talking about everything and nothing, and experiencing so many new things together.
But I'm still not sold on camping.
There are more photos below