Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hungry Hippos- Day Two

Another day, another African animal.

Breakfast was delicious- Julius treated us to some of the most yummy fried eggs i had ever tasted. We we up early and had eaten, packed the camp site and on the road by 8:00am on our way to Lake Barlingo.

On route we stopped at the Equator. The invisible line passed straight across our strech of road in an unremarkable part of rural Kenya.

At the equator, ladies ran from the bushes and their tin huts to try and sell us their wares (something that looked like an egg in a wooden bowl looked popular). Somehow i broke free of the scrum athat had surrounded me for long enough to take in the surrounds- i thought a lot and felt extremely hot- it was pushing 40 degrees here in the shade (well it felt like it).

Back on the bus we drove on and at each village kids ran out of their houses to wave and smile at us as we passed. The kids smiles light up their faces as a full moon might a darkened sky. The kids here are beautiful, iridescent and seem affectionate.

At Lake Birango we visited a reptile refuge where i held both a python (it was enormous) and a boa constrictor, i hated the feeling of them on my skin especially as they moved and when my patience and calmness ceased to exist i almost screamed 'get them off me now, please!'.

Later that night as we packing up from dinner two hippos decided to graze a few metres from our tents... i was scarred- Hippos are responsible for more deaths in Africa than any other animal. The other members of our group thought that u was b3eing silly by my fear of Hioppos is (i believe) completely rationale. The are massive, perhaps the size of two full grown cows and can weigh up to 3 tonn.

The campsite is very pretty, resting on the banks of a lake home not only to the Hippos but also to a variety of crocodile (that i was also keen not to get to know too well).

In the trees, birds chirp and flock around us hopeful i might drop some tasty crumbs,it is a bird watches paradise. Colourful kingfishers, herons, finches crowd us and for a second it is easy to image a heaven looking like this.

In the afternoon we visit a Patock tribe located deep into the countryside. We drive for about 1 hour from the camp down a dusty road and it seems to get hotter and hotter as every minute passes.

In the village one man lives with his two wives, parents and twelve children. It is a society where the men seem to have it good. Their job is look after and count the animals as well as hunting dinner. Whilst the women are responsible for building the marital home, raising the children, cooking food, make beer for the man and play seem stress.

The men here buy their wives from their perspective father in laws for an average of 3 cows and 10 goats a piece.

Women have little choice in these unions and are circumcised at the age of 10/11 when they are first put on reserve for a particular gent.

It feels like an ancient culture, the women dress with large beaded collars to signal their marital status and in their ear are large wholes the size of twenty cent pieces as well as large gold hoop earrings.

The children are beautiful- all big eyes and toothy grins... they are fascinated by me and one of the wives holds my hands and asks me to burse one of her babies.

The child looks about 2 or 3 and has sleepy eyes and a gentle nature. Comfortable in my arms i say a silent prayer to an unknown god that the child will survive infancy and grow into a beautiful Young girl.

The children of the tribe are dressed in rags and i wish i had not left some old unwanted cloths in Nairobi as they could have been of use here.

The village provides a shocking experience- it was a sad place for me to visit and half of me wants to cry (the bit that believes in colonialism). I want to wash the people, bring them foods to cook, tare down their huts made of cow dung and sticks and give them something more durable in this harsh heat.

The other half of me remembers that these people have to stay the way they are- they have to do things there way- difficulties and harshness aside... i can not place my values and virtues up on them.

I wonder if the imperialist thoughts on my mind exist only to make me feel better? I am reminded by a book i read recently that 'no body can fix Africa except for Africans themselves' ad looking at the tribe i see that. I am not sure that the Potock tribe need 'fixing' per say but it is clear that these people are poor and a few luxury's like a well, clean cloths, toys for the kids would not go astray here. Am i wrong in thinking like this? Am i just another cultural imperialist? Am i like the people who went on the slum tour in Nairobi- a poverty voyerist?

I wish i knew the answers to these questions- i hope i don't forget i ever felt them or thought them... especially when consumerism takes over again like it is bound too.

NOTE- this was written a few days ago... internet access in Africa is VERY limited- i will update everytime i can... ps spelling is terriable- will try and proof and check things going forward but...i hope you get the gist and can read it.




Joannie said...

Hi Kath,

Am loving reading your blog and am so glad I have, think I'll give a plug on facebook for the others. You are writing beautifully. I just want to jump on a plane and come over and travel with you, wish I could. Well, at least tourism can have its benefits for the local people, and more of the person to person thing. You know I heard a guy on the radio recently who said that he visited a local school when in Nepal and when he saw their library, about 10 books that had been left by other travellers who decided to write back to all his friends and family to ask that they send spare books to his dad for him to bring back to this school. anyhow, next time he contacted his dad there were 3,000 books waiting for him and sometime later both him and his dad took them back to the said school. Anyhow, the school decided to share the books around and the guy decided to leave his high profile job at IBM or something and he started what has become an international book exchange from the North to the South, amazing A.

cheers, Joannie

PS: nothing wrong with your thoughts a sign of your humanity I reckon

Joannie said...

PS: yes hippos are dangerous. We recently watched a doco about them on the Geographic channel, you're right to watch out!!