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My friend, David (who I talked with about math and evolution on previous blogs, links are below.) went on a backpacking trip in Africa recently. This is his story of the experience of other cultures.
This is the sixth blog in this series. Here is the link for the page where the others can be found:
May 28: The Maasai
Another day in Moshi at the base of the great ancient wonder of the world. Woke up early to do some personal chores. Ramadan was kind enough to help me out with washing my clothes by hand. I was running out of clean clothes for the stay. At 9:00, we headed up to the tree nursery to see what new surprises awaited us. After breakfast, we started to prepare our cultural songs that we had briefly rehearsed the previous evening. Before much else happened, something started to sound familiar; the all too recognizable greeting cheers of the Chagga elders off in the distance. It was the elders of the Maasai tribe making their way up the hill. It was an amazing scene as the women cheered, jumping high up in the air in their flamboyant cultural attire. With large earring expansions along their ears and wide, disc-shaped bead necklaces, it seemed like something out of National Geographic.
Later, the different groups performed their songs of choice. The local Roots and Shoots people did the Tanzanian national anthem, followed by a song about Kilimanjaro, and one more. The Maasai mamas followed with their songs and their iconic celebratory jumping style. We had joined them from the audience to the makeshift stage area marked by a step in the grass. We jumped along with them for quite some time, repetitively singing their vociferous chants along with the others.
When it was our turn, we sang Jingle Bells, Oh Canada, and those of us from other places introduced our individual cultures. I have to say, it was definitely not as exciting as the cultural shows of the Tanzanians, which always ended with inclusive dance. But it was still nice to share our cultures. Newly arrived Americans from Mississippi also quickly performed the Star Spangled Banner with one of our own American members, Alessandra. We concluded with a Tanzanian game. This involved standing in rings and calling random individuals to the centre to perform a quick display of freelance dancing for one verse of the song. These are the type of connecting experiences that I will never forget in my life.
Just before lunch, me, Sarah Bell, Kyle, and a couple of others from Roots and Shoots went down to explore our homestays. Along the way, one of the Roots leaders offered us a traditional Chagga brew at a local stand. We couldn’t say “No.” We were curious about trying it. It was a very different drink. It tasted like fermented bananas that were sitting around for a long time. We shared a big plastic cup between the three of us; not the most appetizing drink on the market. A half-bottle of orange Fanta tamed down the exotic taste, and we managed to drink just over half of it between the three of us.
Later that evening, we hiked over to the largely talked about avocado farm. It was a trek through the Kilimanjaro bush in a long single file made from OG (not Original Gangsta) people, Roots people, and some local Chagga children. After a half hour walk down valleys, across rivers and up slopes, we arrived. It wasn’t so much the farms that were beautiful about this place as much as the breathtaking panoramic view of the distant African landscape. We could see the rolling slopes in the side surrounding the endless flatlands in the distance. We took pictures as a group, and our team made an OG poster ad-style picture. This showed us doing yoga poses in front of the scenery, as seen on the organization’s website home page.
In the evening, the Chagga mamas invited us down for drinks at the local bar, ran by one of their sons in law. On the way, we met up with others from both of the groups, and we came as a convoy of people. We were ready to just sit back, unwind, and have a Kilimanjaro beer on the slopes of Kilimanjaro with some great friends.