Day 12 – August 9th
Fortunately, the wind died down during the night and the moon came out. It turned out to be a very comfortable place to sleep and I had another good night of sleep but feel very tired, really out of it. I went to brush my teeth and after about 20 seconds realized I was brushing with an anti-fungal cream. That should cut down on any fungi growing in my mouth but it sure tastes bad. We all have a good laugh over that one. I can confidently report that regular tooth paste is preferable to anti-fungal cream for brushing your teeth.
We are packed and head out even earlier than usual this morning. My foot is heeling nicely, I don’t limp anymore but still feel it when we are on rocky land. We hike in the nature conservancy but start to see signs of over grazing. We see quite a few manyattas (acacia thorn ringed villages) and many Samburu and their herds. We didn’t see a lot of wild life in the conservancy but I think that was due to the timing of walking yesterday during the hottest time of day when most animals are resting. Today we are out early enough I expect to see a lot of game but am disappointed. We still haven’t seen a giraffe outside of our car, nor any elephants.
We are quite a spectacle as we come down the trail – 15 loaded camels, the handlers and the walkers. Most Samburu wave but today a number simply stare and don’t greet us or return our waves. After several hours we arrive at a lugga and take a right staying in the river bed; a large manyatta is on our left. As we approach the hand pump well we see it is quite busy with women from the local villages filling up large 20 liter containers for their daily water use. We are not exactly welcomed with open arms. One of our Samburu handlers starts talking to the mama in charge.
She is feisty and as far as I can tell isn’t happy about us being there. It turns out she doesn’t want us to take their pictures until she has negotiated a good price. She notices that Tommy is taking video and she shakes her head and hand indicating he should stop. Tommy has the camera at his side trying to be discreet but this mama is too sharp for that. When he doesn’t stop she goes over to him forcefully indicating he must stop. Michael says, “Tommy you’re busted - you better stop”. She puts her hand over the lens and Tommy smiles at her and stops recording. I’m sure he got some very good footage before turning it off.
This is good entertainment as the negotiations begin in earnest. This woman is tough and finally Tommy agrees to pay 1,500 shillings for the right to film them and all of us photographers are thrown in the deal. We start snapping away and are having a good deal of fun when several mzees (elder men) show up and want their cut. Now the negotiations start all over again. Another woman indicates that Tommy was allowed to film but not the rest of us. Our Samburu handler reminds her that all the photo takers were included in the deal but Tommy quickly turns on us and calls us all a bunch of free loaders and cozies up to the new negotiator. I decide this is a good point to exit but I notice Phil doesn’t get out of there in time and they are after him for another substantial shilling donation.
Amanda offers a bag of tobacco to end the negotiations and saves Phil from an end I shutter to imagine (just kidding). We get going after filling up many water containers with the fresh well water. I ask Amanda about the well and she tells me that wells are being put in near villages to provide clean water. She goes on to say that these wells are becoming big problems for the men of the villages as the women congregate around the wells and they become a real community gossip area. This isn’t necessarily a good thing for the men of the village. Pretty funny thought and a very entertaining encounter.
After hiking an hour or so, we stop to talk about how much further we want to go today. We can make it a long day and get back to the Ewaso Nyiro or cut it short and find a decent camp along the way. After the long hikes we have had the past 2 days it is decided we will cut today short. I was happy with that decision as another 25 mile day would have been very tough. We have kept a slower pace today. The long break at the well would have caused this to be a very long and hot hike to get back to the river.
We hike another hour or so and pick a spot by a lugga. It is definitely not the nicest site we have had but will do just fine. While setting up camp several women and children sit under a group of trees and watch us for several hours. We must be an entertaining group to watch. Staring is not considered rude so we are stared at a great deal. After getting rehydrated I grab the frisbee and head up to the handlers. I ask if anyone wants to play. They all look at me but don’t respond; II tell them we’re going down to the lugga to play if they want to join us. Michael, Steve, and I head down and start whipping the “bee”. Pretty soon the handlers all join us followed by Roger and Phil with Tommy bringing the video camera. It is a really fun game.
A young Samburu warrior, probably about 13, shows up and gets in our circle. I throw him one which he tries to catch while still holding onto his bow and arrows. Some girls from his village laugh as he misses it. He shoots them a stern look. Michael shows him how to hold it to throw but it is a very foreign concept. Soon he catches one and again looks at the girls as if to say, “Look at me, I caught this, I am a warrior and I can do anything.” - or something like that.
Soon the handlers want to play a game to see how many times we can toss it and catch it with the object being to get around the circle without it dropping. It is very fun with lots of laughter.
After supper Tommy sets up his laptop for “Africa Cinema”. Tonight’s movie is “The Ghost and the Darkness”, a film starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas about killer lions in the Tsavo area. It is a fictionalized account of a true story that has been given the Hollywood treatment. Amanda tells me that a number of the deaths were murders made to look like lion killings. In this movie, the killer lion takes on a demonic role. It was pretty fun to watch the handlers watching the movie out in the middle of nowhere. I understand some of them had never seen an American movie. I went to bed before the movie was over as I am very tired.