28-30 June. The journey from Same to Arusha. Our Maasai experience.

Mama John's family and her neighbors who came to meet us
Mama Kuku was one of our sawadi/gifts from Mama John. She tried to escape several times...imagine me running down the road trying to retrieve her and deal with burly men fixing the car and all the traffic....!!! However we grew to really like her and she kindly laid us a parting gift of a fresh brown egg as we handed her over to Susan's needy friends in Usa River near Arusha. Hopefully she will lay many eggs for them too...and not become their Sunday lunch!
When we were trying hared to get Susan on a bus from Same to Morogoro, I tried to lock the car and broke the key in the door!! We had an eventful day..... this was only one of the many challenges we encountered!
We finally found a mechanic who fashioned a key from a lump of steel he found in his tool box. Using his basic tools and nearly 2 hours later, he created a key which actually started the car but...wouldn't lock the doors. so I had to drive the car all the way to Arusha instead of staying in Moshi as we had originally planned. Meanwhile Susan's helpful man couldn't get her on a bus so she ended up coming to Arusha with us. In Moshi my door flew wide open.... I was so lucky that one of the 100's of cars usually rushing past chose that moment not to be near me! 
......I also learned that the electricity had been off for nearly a week at  my home in Moro!!! AGAIN my freezer was combusting!! Polly to the rescue as her house-girl, Loveness was getting married and Polly wanted to share the 25 people staying in her house for the weekend!!! (With umeme back on, my house filled with Loveness' family for the weekend .....and the fridge was back on!.... )
Finally in Arusha we met John who had a spare key; bought Susan's ticket to Dodoma ...leaving at 4.30am the next day; settled ourselves into nice little guest house; then found a bar to enjoy a well earned sundowner of a nice red wine, much needed food and laughed the night away as we recounted all the funny little things that had happened to us that day!
Next day we caught a taxi to Melissa's house where Bebe Ester, North and Melissa (TFFT) were excitedly waiting for us! It was great to see them all again.We made a quick visit to The Foundation For Tomorrow's office, met the whole team, and had Adam organise us an overnight visit to his Maasai  friends'  boma/village the following day. Before the day ended, Phyl and I had shopped happily at the Maasai market and relaxed over lunch with Melissa in the tranquil gardens of The Blue Heron restaurant. We were very happy to find a really nice red wine and pizza just like the ones I love so much at Lunicos back home in Trinity Beach!!
Our Maasai experience.
We left Arusha very excited and not really knowing what our experience was going to bring! We had been given permission to witness the sacred ceremony which celebrates the Circumcision ritual held only every 4 years! Last time Wazungus had asked permission they were refused. Knowing this we felt very privileged as the day unfolded and we were almost ignored. We were so grateful not to be treated as tourists and consequently, to witness this ceremony in its rawness and natural setting. The four,16 year old boys had been circumcised early that morning and were not allowed to (and most likely didn't feel like wanting to...)
join the huge gathering of the Maasai people from the local bomas until the following day. We were very lucky to be allowed to meet and speak with the boys in their boma, very late that day.

Two cows and three goats had been slaughtered for the celebration. The usual diet of the Maasai people consists of milk and cows' blood. It is carefully drained from the neck of the cows and apparently doesn't affect the animal. Their cows are sacred and are an indication of the wealth of the Boma.

When one is slaughtered, every part of the cow is used, with designated parts used during specific times of the celebrations. When we arrived we spent time around the cooking of the nyama/meat.I the picture above, a small section of the breast of the cow is displayed and is carried by the head male during one of the ritual dances.
 Loshiro, our guide is slicing some nyama for me to eat....they were so anxious to eat the meat that it was still quite raw!! "Oh well....when with the Maasai....do what the Maasai do!"
 Preparation took a lot of time and energy. The men painted their symbols and the women preened themselves in all their jewelery. The more important you are the more adorned you were expected to be (and could probably afford to be!!)
 The little children flew around everywhere trying to take everything in. These little ones are unadorned as it is their first ceremony. They were intrigued with Phyl and I and it took most of them a long time to actually be brave enough to come near us but.....when they overcame their fear.....we had a challenging time keeping them away!
 One fun activity had the women trying to steal the stick of meat from the men. It was stuck in the ground between the two groups waiting about 50 metres apart from each other. They gradually moved closer until one of the quick brave women dashed and stole! There was whooping, laughter, chasing, laughter, incessant chatter and bantering!!! Dust rose and settled as the numbers swelled and more and more beautifully adorned women arrived and joined in.
The Maasai women move their upper bodies and roll their shoulders rhythmically in their dances which causes their neck adornments to wave in time with their gentle movements. It is mesmerising, beautiful and very typical.

 Phyl being incognito....we really were able to watch and not feel like we were intruding or that they were putting on a show for us. This was what made it so fascinating and enjoyable.
Phyl and I surrounded by Loshiro, who is a member of this boma and works for Bariki, Adam's friend, and his mates.

 The traditional Maasai jump is seen in this picture. These two men had been jumping VERY high continuously for a long time....my legs were hurting in sympathy!  It was incredible how long they could sustain this. During this celebration, the young women were dancing to the men....it seemed like a selection ritual where the men would respond if they were interested and liked who he saw! Interesting! The younger girls sang and looked on in awe of their older sisters.

 The elders waiting for the cows and goats to be herded into the central chorale of the Boma. The animals are housed in here at night to ensure they are safe and not eaten by hungry predators. the village is built around the chorale. Most of the dancing rituals during the day had taken place within this central chorale. hanging on the thorny fence is the plant used to make their pombe/alcohol which was consumed freely by the elders throughout the ceremony. Alcohol had been brought in for the celebration but the few men who were obviously affected by their consumption were watched carefully by their peers and gently removed from any potentially embarrassing situations.
 The women were in charge of herding the animals. The more important you are the greater responsibility you had. Here you see the beautiful women in the refinery, amongst the dust, dirt and bustle of herding. Not something you would see back home!!

 As the day moved into night and the celebrations came to an end, we were treated to a spectacular sunset. The visitors slowly melted into the night as they returned to their own cattle and bomas. However, just like any celebration I've been to, the stayers, stayed on and partied all night. They jumped and sang their way into the wee hours of the next morning. Phyl and I had been treated to mazewa joto chai/warm milk tea and wali & nyama/rice and meat for Chukula za jioni/dinner before we stood in almost total darkness and admired the star filled sky and our beloved Southern Cross twinkling above us. We crawled into our tent, wrapped ourselves in our Maasai shukas/blankets and drifted into a fitful sleep...our ears filled with the comforting chanting of these unique people as they continued to peacefully celebrate.
The families of the young boys, having offered the beast for slaughter, were busily preparing the skins of the animals to be tanned and used as bedding. all pieces were stretched and allowed to dry. It reminded of my childhood days at home on the farm when we would tan the sheep and rabbit skins. It is a long process but so rewarding!

 Enjoying the local pombe....the morning after!!
 They had really warmed to us by the following morning and we had many people wanting to greet us and of course....have their pictures take with us

And so the day continued as usual. The cows were taken out by the young boys and walked slowly10-15 kms to get to the nearest watering hole. They are shepherded and graze on whatever little vegetation they can find to be returned again on sunset and herded into the chorale for the night.
Returning to Arusha, we detoured to visit Loshiro's sister and the Boma in which she lives. The husband has 3 wives. Two wives have 7 children each and Loshiro's sister has 4. She is sitting with one of her children and another woman's child. We gave them the fruit we had and they devoured it quickly. Children came from everywhere...hesitant because we were there, but hungry and eager to eat! The dust, flies, lethargy and poverty were overwhelming.
We returned to Arusha, and headed for the comfort of The Blue Heron to reflect and try and absorb all we had experienced over another glass of that really nice red wine and, of course, we had to do pizza again!!!

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