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Masai Hospitality

December 14, 2009

La Chica has just returned to Arusha, smelling of smoke from the Masai fires that are kept lit inside the mud huts, hair in braids and wearing Masai beaded jewellery around her wrists and neck.  She has a very brown face and arms – the contrast to her white legs is nothing short of comical!

La Chica has been visiting her friend Namnyak.  She went to Longido to pick up some beaded necklaces and belts that had been crafted onto leather, to show Tati, the Swiss woman who runs the Masai Women Art jewellery shop in Arusha, in the hope that the shop will sell the pieces to tourists to raise extra money for the Longido women.

Namnyak invited La Chica to her mother’s boma (home) in a village a few hours’ drive away from Longido.  La Chica jumped at the chance to visit a new boma, and so they piled into a 4WD and danced without music on the bumpy dirt roads into the heart of Masai land.  They arrived late at night, were met by four of Namnyak’s brothers and walked in the dark for half an hour to Namnyak’s childhood home – now also home to the wives of her brothers and their children.  In the typical traditional greeting of the Masai, La Chica was given hot chai and welcomed to her new temporary home.  She was introduced to Namnyak’s family including her mother – who remembered La Chica from her attendance at Olengunnin’s elder ceremony 3½ years ago!  After a dinner of rice and red kidney beans, La Chica was shown her bedroom for the night – inside one of the mud huts, lying on a bed made of sticks with a cow skin laid over the top.  She slept well, but was woken early in the morning when the hut filled with smoke from the newly stoked fire inside.  In record time La Chica got dressed and emerged from the hut with squinting eyes and gasping for fresh air!

After assisting the women with the collection of water from the nearby water source, she spent the day walking around  the local villages being stared at.  Two local Masai women had never seen a white person in their lives.  On seeing La Chica, one of the women screamed and ran away.  The other one stood routed to the spot in shock.  Unable to move, unable to scream, she just stared and stared at La Chica, who cautiously approached her and held out a hand in greeting.  La Chica also made the babies cry.  Proud Masai mothers wanted to show off their babies to La Chica, but each time a baby caught sight of La Chica’s white skin and green eyes they screamed and howled!

That evening La Chica and her friend Ngai walked back from the neighbouring  village in the dark and got lost!  They ended up in a boma miles away from Namnyak’s mother’s boma, and were eventually escorted home by a kind man who knew where they were supposed to be headed.  She got back just in time to go to accompany Namnyak to a nearby boma where three orphaned children were living with their grandparents.  One parent had died of cholera, the other had fallen into a deep water hole and drowned.  The grandparents have no goats or cows, and the children have no shoes or food.  La Chica was very moved by their situation, and gave them some money to help out and promised to find some financial assistance for these beautiful children (all under 10 years old) – if anyone is interested in helping  please contact La Chica at info@testigoafrica.org.

The following day Namnyak’s sister arrived at the boma.  She had walked all through the night in order to meet La Chica and appeared refreshed despite over 12 hours of non-stop walking.

In traditional Masai style, La Chica was farewelled with a long and beautiful speech, thanking her for visiting their boma and asking that she return again to visit.  La Chica said she would love to return – and was promised her own goat on her next visit.

La Chica is back in Arusha more determined than ever to ensure that the Lukumahi water source project is successful and she can give something back to these beautiful people who have again welcomed her into their hearts and homes.

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