Day 13 Ė August 10th
We are under a nearly full moon when I wake at about 5:00 AM. I donít even need a lamp to see. We are slower to get moving today as the movie kept people up a bit late. After getting packed up, filling my water containers, and having some tea and breakfast I go over to ask a couple of the handlers what they thought of the movie. They really enjoyed it and Amanda said they caught the fact that the lions were not simply animals but in this movie a demonic symbol.
We start our hike a little after 6:30 and are heading back to the Ewaso Nyiro to camp. It already feels warm as we pull out of camp. We are heading up to a plateau with the morning light casting a rose colored hue to the hills. As we come to a steep path down to a dry creek bed, I stop to watch how the handler and camels will handle it. The camelís feet are flat, they canít get traction on smooth or slick surfaces but they handle this obstacle with ease. We head up this lugga and encounter a rock wall that is smooth from rapids descending over them during the rainy season. This is going to be tough for the camels. One camel slides hard to his knees as he tries to get up the smooth rock face. It is a big concern as a broken leg can easily happen in these situations. The next group tries a different path which is still a tough climb but this area works better. All the camels safely make it up and we are on our way again.
It is getting hot and we are not moving at our usual quick pace. By late morning we are back on the river and take a break to drink, refill water containers, and have a snack. My wife Allyson, packed some Trader Joeís trail mix and an anti-oxidant berry blend with real goji berries. I have slowly gone through them and they are getting low. I saved my favorite for last, the one with cashews and almonds. I share with anyone who happens to be around. They have been a big hit during these infrequent breaks. We have covered about 15 miles and it is really heating up.
After our break we continue walking along the river. Everywhere are tracks and droppings from elephants but I have yet to see any. The greenery along the river is in stark contrast to the dull hues we walked through this morning. The walking is pretty easy so we pick up the pace. In a few miles we come to a large grove of acacia trees that sit between the Ewaso Nyiro and a dry river bed. This will serve as our camp tonight.
There are a significant number of young Samburu around and I notice they are dressed differently than any that we have seen before. I ask Amanda if they are going through some type of initiation. She asks one of the handlers who says that they always dress that way and are referred to as the Pretty Boys. They are very friendly and obviously want to do some trading or selling. Michael has his Polaroid camera out and is trying to get someone to trade a bracelet for an instant photo but doesnít have any luck. He takes a picture of a youngster to see if he can get the interest up but still no takers.
They are very good negotiators and get the prices they want for their beaded body jewelry. I buy an arm band and a really great belt. I probably over paid but it is more fun buying something from a Samburu out on the Ewaso Nyiro than in Nairobi at a souvenir stand plus, you know it was worn by a warrior which increases my interest. One of my trading partners is named Kokeelee and the other is Akerme. They also do a traditional Samburu dance or two but it is so hot I donít think they have their usual energy. Still it is good to see how they dance and here they wonít pull you up to embarrass yourself like at tourist areas.
One of our guys negotiates with a different group and buys a goat. They slaughter it, drink the blood I am told, and dress it. A little later we get a bowl of sliced cooked liver and heart in a light garlic seasoning. It is amazingly good! In fact, this whole hike we have eaten extremely well.
As it gets dark, Phil gets out his laser pointer and directs us to the Southern Cross, my favorite star pattern in the Southern Hemisphere. It is good to see it again. Phil knows his stuff and makes it a lot of fun to stare up into the heavens. The last few days have been great for star gazing as the skies have been clear. However, as soon as the nearly full moon comes up it tends to wash out the sky. I ask Phil if he has ever heard of Andy Fraknois, a family friend and well known astronomer. He answers affirmatively saying he saw Andy speak once and was very impressed. We talked about the Astronomical Society and various related issues. It is a small world in the astronomy field. I think Phil was impressed that I know Andy.