Next Friday I fly to Kenya. It’s with a company called Woodland Ways and once a year they take a small group to do bushcraft and tracking with a Maasai tribe. This year, for the first time, a second visit is planned. 7 women (including 2 leaders) will be going to spend time with the women of the tribe. We want to learn more about their life, their role and listen to their story.
One reason for doing this is to learn more from indigenous people – to learn more about their sense of community, their rites of passage and any impact from a western world on how they live. Its going to be useful research for my next book.
The info I’ve had from the company includes:
The phrase once in a lifetime is completely over used, but I really believe that this trip will be exactly that. It is a trip like no other, we will be living within the village in our own compound. Where we will really be living alongside the Maasai Women and undertaking all the tasks required to run our compound together including collecting fire wood, cooking communal meals, creating craft items and most importantly making copious amounts of tea, or chai.
When we arrive in Nairobi we will stay at a hotel, in the Ngong hills for a couple of days, and then drive by 4×4 to the village. It’s remote, and we will set up camp close by.
I have to take my own camping equipment and thought for 10 days I’ll take a camp bed. I finally found one that wasn’t too heavy, was searching on Amazon for a bag to take it, and my tent, etc. I found a bag, started reading the reviews and OMG the bag is too big for a plane? Who knew? Time to chat with British Airways. It would cost me £180 to take an oversize bag. A need to rethink and I’ve ordered a high-quality camping mat. I’ll be sleeping on the floor, but I can do this (positive thinking is necessary, haven’t slept on a floor for 5 years, but I can and I will!)
I take a mess can, mug, cutlery etc and loo paper. I’m also taking some clothes for the children of the village.
An early task will be to create a barrier between us and the wild animals. This is a traditional boma, an acacia fence to keep out the wildlife. I’ve thought ahead and will take strong gardening gloves as Acacia bushes are full of thorns. I’m hoping some of the villagers will be on patrol?
My partner helpfully (!) sent me a link to someone being attacked and killed by a hyena so I’ve looked up what to do – don’t turn my back on them, make yourself look big and make noises – somewhere I have a whistle which I really must try and find.
What we will be doing is quite fluid, The focus on the women of the Maasai tribe. We will be working very closely with them, to hear their stories, and to gain an understanding of their lives within the tribe. This trip is all about giving them a voice and to share experiences.
The village has a bore hole for water (paid for from a previous trip), but it’s not safe for us to drink. That’s why I need to take my own water purification system.
And this is why I’ve had so many vaccinations and other medication. I’ve had jabs for rabies (3, in my arm, not stomach), yellow fever, meningitis, MMR, typhoid and also cholera medication via a drink. I’ve got my malaria tabs ready.
We will be off grid when with the village, so I won’t be posting regular updates.
The rest of this small group will fly back into Heathrow on Wednesday 28 February. I’m older and want time to process the experience. I’ve got 3 days booked at a hotel in the Karen area of Nairobi, a time to relax and to allow myself to reflect on this amazing trip.