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We wish you a Masai Christmas…

January 7, 2010

La Chica’s Christmas day started like every other day – up at the crack of dawn, watching the cows and goats being milked, and drinking her first (of many) cups of chai.  She watched the Masai living in the boma transform themselves – bathing then dressing in their best clothes – ready for church.  So for the first time in many years (apart from attending weddings and funerals) La Chica found herself in church, not just any church, but a Baptist church that had a pastor preaching in Swahili and an assistant preaching immediately after in Masai.  La Chica was expertly dressed by Namnyak in Masai clothes.  Adorned in the soft bright coloured cotton fabrics, La Chica also wore her new Masai  thongs – black leather with beading – purchased on a recent trip to the border town of Namanga.  Her attempts to blend in with the Masai congregation were in vain, as Namnyak stood up and introduced La Chica to everyone, then prompted La Chica to wave and smile and acknowledge all the faces staring at her.  La Chica however was quite touched when a few times throughout the two hours she sat in church there were readings in English just for her benefit.  The singing was very enthusiastic, as were the accompanying actions to the songs, with the Masai jumping up and down.

Following church, La Chica and her best friend Namnyak attended a ceremony in a boma a few kilometers away, celebrating circumcision and a marriage.  Many of the women had their faces painted red, and wore their best beaded jewellery and colourful clothes.  La Chica recognized many of the women and men from her first Masai ceremony five years ago, and many of them recognized her.  The women grouped together singing songs while the men made their unique guttural grunts and tried to outdo each other as to who could jump the highest.  However the celebrations were rudely interrupted when the humidity was finally relieved by a massive downpour complete with thunder and lightning.  La Chica found herself in one of the mud huts trying to stay dry, but being unused to wearing the flowing cotton Masai clothes, she became a sodden mess.  Namnyak and La Chica headed home when the rain stopped, but the rain had a mind of its own and started again.  The downpour caused rivers to form on the paths, and La Chica found her lovely Masai thongs getting stuck in the mud, much to the amusement of curious onlookers.  One young man came to her rescue and held her hand to walk her home.  He very carefully put his stick in the flowing water to test the depth – which was fine when La Chica placed her right foot into the flowing water and it only reached her ankle, but not so good when her left foot kept going down until La Chica was in muddy flowing water up to her thigh.  Hysterical laughter was the only option, as they slid home like drowned rats, ice skating through the mud and wading through the fast flowing rivers.

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