Dancing With The Maasai
After our safari adventures, Ava and I were ready to do some serious shopping. We asked Dee if there was a Maasai craft market where we could buy masks and blankets, and he said that we could buy crafts at the local Maasai village, where we would also get a tour and learn how they lived. Sounded good!
We arrived to the circular village in the blazing early afternoon sun and were greeted by a group of Maasai warriors dressed in their traditional blankets, sandals and beaded belts and necklaces. The bright red color of the blankets wards off animals, and the belts and necklaces are gifts given to them by their wives and girlfriends.
Next comes the jumping competition. They jump so freakin’ high! It’s crazy. Apparently whoever jumps the highest gets the most girlfriends, although they were laughing when they told us this, so I have a feeling it’s not really true. We were invited to jump too, as well as chant and dance in the last dance which was a ‘gratitude prayer.’ This last one was my favorite – a deep, breathy chanting combined with a slow moving forward of everyone at once. They told us that this dance reminds them of how thankful they are for everything they have, and they pray that no animals will come to attack them and steal their cows.
Not captured here is me trying to chant with them which was really fun. I can see why they want to make those noises – it’s very cathartic. At the end they put the chief’s headdress on each of us for a photo op. It was cool, but I knew I did not deserve that honor, as the chief of the village is determined by which warrior throws the first spear in a lion hunt at age 16. Unless they also have a provision for outstanding underage drinking, I’m pretty sure I’m out of the running.
Then they showed us how they build fires with a simple wooden stick and wooden plate with a hole in it. You can see how they do it in the video below in real time – about three minutes to get a full-on fire going!
Next we toured one of the traditional huts, which the women build for the family out of cow dung and mud. Here’s Ava standing out front, holding a ceremonial dance stick in her hand.
While we were sitting inside the hut, our host asked us if we wanted to drink some cow’s blood. They waste no part of the animal, which is excellent news ecologically, but somehow it seemed crazy to avoid eating salads for weeks on end for fear of stomach bugs only to chug a cup of blood. Ava and I both said, “No thank you” quickly, and at the same time.
After we shopped in true American style, they had to sort out how much we owed, and which craftspeople had made which items. It was quite a long process, which, like everything else, they conducted in the middle of the circle in direct sunlight. And of course they weren’t wearing hats, sunglasses and sunscreen like us. But I could feel myself burning and getting heatstroke.
It was time to go. I will never forget it.