God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Masai Mara

Wild, alive, beautiful, windswept, pure, dangerous, mournful, captivating—the adjectives are numberless in describing the Masai Mara. It is a land that has not changed much with time. Animals roam free sharing the land with the Masai tribal people and their cattle. Sometimes these two come in conflict. Such is the case when a lion attacks a cow or when the Masai retaliate. Cows are the livelihood and wealth of the Masai. 

Masai Cattle Sharing Savanna with Zebras

In Masai tribal belief, God entrusted them with the cattle and gave them dominion over the cows. Thus the lion becomes the enemy. To stop the killing of the lions or other wildlife, while recognizing the autonomy of the tribes, the Kenyan government now replaces or pays for a killed cow or, if the cow is attacked and hurt but still alive, the government buys the cow for the meat.

The Masai are a proud, independent people and, in some ways, held in awe by the other peoples of Kenya. Our Masai guide, Nixon, who is well-educated, fluent in English, knowledgeable of the world, continues to live in his village when not working as a guide for the camp, in what most of us consider primitive conditions. When he visits Mombasa or Nairobi, he wears his tribal clothes with all his jewelry and adornments proclaiming his identity. There is great pride in proclaiming the Masai heritage.

Nixon is also a man with ambition and an understanding that the world is greater than his world. He is part of the generation that is bridging the two worlds. He had wanted to come to the United States to study wildlife management but could not obtain a visa so he has built new dreams. As he works as a guide for the Karen Blixen Camp where we stayed, he keeps his personal distance and yet demonstrates ease with us and our ways. It is clear that he is a man comfortable in his own identity and that he is making choices as to how he will blend his worlds. 

Nixon Relaxing at Sundowner
Nixon knows the land of the Mara. It is his land. As we went out on our game drives, it would seem as if the vast terrain we were traversing was empty--where or why were we headed where ever. What or where was the goal? And then..........in front of us would be a pride of lions stretched out in the grass, occasionally rallying themselves for a quick mating ritual before laying back down. How did Nixon know where they were? He just knew.

And There They Were

He took us to cheetahs, zebras milling at the river--deciding whether to cross and concluding that tomorrow would be better, giraffes, elephant herds with dueling teenagers, elands, topis, wildebeasts, hyneas, vultures (in waiting for the zebras to cross.) It is all on the Mara!

Cheetah on the Prowl
One of My Favorites
Lilac Breasted Roller. See the locust?
And...if you want more, you can take some time with this slide show--just a few of the 600+ pictures we took of the Masai Mara.

Next: Karen Blixen Camp and Caseys' Time on the Mara.


Trekcapri said...

Hi Jane, thank you so much for writing such an interesting piece about your visit to Masai Mara and in describing the Masai tribal beliefs. I found Nixon's story very interesting. I really like how you are able to blend learning about the culture, the beauty of the amazing wildlife images and the individual story lines into your posts. You are a wonderful and talented writer. Thank you for sharing.

Jane said...

Kathy, thanks for the kind words!! Yes, I do like to absorb information about cultures and people along with the other things we seek--animals, castles, food, etc. It is nice to think you have some feel for the people even though it is so limited.