Africa Tanzania

Maasai Cows, Children & High Jumping in Tanzania

After leaving Tarangire National Park in Tanzania, we spotted a group of women and children on the side of the road, each carrying a container of water on top of their head. On the other side of the road were 3 young boys herding goats. Adam, our Maasai guide with Proud African Safaris, stopped to talk with them and to give each one a package of cookies and a bottle of water. They were out doing their daily duties for their village and had no food or water with them. After a short visit, we continued on to their village, MBuyni.

Twelve older ladies and 6 Warriors welcomed us into MBuyni Village near Arusha, Tanzania. But, before I could do anything, the ladies had draped a 4×4 ft. maroon square cloth, the clothes that the Maasai wear, around me and put one of their beautiful handmade bead collars around my neck. That is when I noticed the smell. The Maasai ladies smelled of an odor when they tied the blanket around my body. The odor was distinctive and one I had never smelled except on the Maasai. It was not perspiration or any normal body odor. The blanket tied at my shoulder just reeked of the smell and it was a rotten, rancid smell.

But I didn’t have time to solve the smell problem because the ladies were pulling me into the Adumu, the high jumping dance of the Maasai with the deep chanting rhythmic song. The men lined up and started that rolling chant, then, the high jumping followed where 1-2 junior warriors got into the center to show their jumping skills. Their bodies were rigid and their faces were deep in concentration as they jumped 2-3 feet in the air. The chant recalled legendary cattle raids, battles and deeds of brave men. The Junior Warrior who jumped the highest won the dance.

Adam must have said the magic words to the village junior elder or the ladies needed an extra hand because I was then asked to help them carry in the logs they had gathered that day from the surrounding area. On top of my head, a lady placed a cloth rolled in a circle topped with a 6 ft. log on top of the cloth. It didn’t hurt my head at all and I figured out that the cloth made my head flat so the log would not fall off. It was much easier than I expected and I soon learned that I could walk and balance the log at the same time. And so I walked about 1 block into one of the Maasai’s round plaster houses with a thatched roof.

Having succeeded at that, I now was on a high that I could do many things Maasai, but I stopped at their offer to milk a goat. It was time for them to show me how they milk a goat into a calabash (gourd) and then add blood from a young calf to make the protein-rich milk-blood drink that is consumed on 3 special occasions;  at child birth, when a person is sick and when a boy is circumcised.

First, they caught a calf in the kraal, a pen to hold livestock that is made of acacia tree thorn branches piled on top of each other to make a 3-4 ft. barrier and built by the men. A heifer was caught and a rope tied around its neck so the blood would pool up and the warrior then hit the bulge of blood using a bow and arrow and the blood squirted right into the calabash. Then, they caught a goat and milked it into the calabash gourd. Now they had the important Maasai ceremonial drink.

I still had more questions so I met with the village Junior Elder and several of his wives in his house. It was an interesting feeling being inside the round house with nothing but wives and log walls and ceiling. First I met the number one wife and she sat perfect in her chair and did not move the entire time. She had on a big white beaded collar and was a beautiful lady but she never smiled. And more wives followed. I understood that a Maasai could have as many wives as he could afford. Then we met 2 other ladies who were friendly, smiling and welcoming.  Formalities out of the way, the Junior Elder and I sat on stools and began our visit.

Circumcision was the first question and he answered candidly. Every 7 years is “the season” for circumcision, signifying the passage of male childhood so all males within a certain age are included in the ceremonies. Circumcision of females is not performed often these days.

At 5 a.m. they enter a creek or river to get their body cold, and exit to let the blowing wind cool and numb the body further so less pain is felt. At 6 is time for the procedure. Now called a Moran, new recruits to the rank of warrior, herbs are placed on the incision and the pain begins. A man does not show pain in his eyes or on his face so a male who shows no pain brings honor to his parents.

Several days of feasting, drinking and celebration follows the circumcision where the blood-milk drink is consumed by the new Moran. The Morani are given only a 3×3 ft. black square fabric to wear, plus the ostrich feather headdress. Their faces must be whitened with chalk for up to 2 months while the Morani make it on their own to prove manhood and to pass into the first age-set of the Maasai. The young Morani begin to grow their hair and regularly apply red ochre that they get from the bark of an acacia tree. They cannot be around the village when healing. Following the 2-month period, the ceremony to bless the new warriors takes place.

When I was in Tanzania in 2004, I spotted 4 Morani walking on the side of the highway to Ngorongoro Crater wearing their black blankets, white faces and begging for a ride and money. I mentioned this to our Maasai elder game driver on the Tauck World Discovery Tanzania Safari who said if the boy’s parents knew what they were doing, there would be deep punishment. The boys must stay away from people and their village and make it on their own for up to 2 months in the wild to prove manhood and to prove no pain. Eating in their mother’s house and sisters watching them eat is forbidden.

When I visited a Maasai boma village in northern Tanzania on that same trip, we saw 6 Morani boys in their black blankets, white faces and Junior Elder in charge of them. It was not explained to us why they were in the village during their “proving manhood period”.  The Adumu high jump dance and singing that goes with it are performed regularly before and after the Moran age. In the past, killing a lion and cattle-raiding expeditions were a popular test of bravery. Nowadays, they have been outlawed so Morani spend much of their time in mock battles.

The senior warriors graduate to junior elders at the Eunoto ceremony, where the Morani arrive in full regalia every 15 years. Their heads are covered in red ochre, with the lion’s mane and ostrich feather headdress. Maasai gather from all over to participate in the ceremony, where the Moran’s mother shaves his head, cutting the ties of warrior hood.

Our visit ended and it was time for us to make it to Arusha, Tanzania. But before I could leave, I had to find out what the smell was on the Maasai women. Adam clued us in on the secret; the ladies rub cow milk butterfat all over their skin to protect them and to keep the skin soft .  After a while, the butter spoils and gives off the rancid odor from their beautiful sultry satiny skin.

Africa Kenya Tanzania

Elephants, Cheetahs, Leopard, Monkeys, Rhinos, Hyenas, Hippos, and a Bird

When we were in Kenya-Tanzania in February, our Tauck World Discovery tour director, Deanne Inman,  gave us an airmail note-letter. With this, we were to write ourselves a letter about our safari we had just completed. Then she would mail it to us 3 weeks after we returned home and we were back into our normal daily hustle and bustle.

So, following is the letter I wrote.

1.   I remember going back to the hotel, the Fairmont Mara Safari Club, from the Tauck World Discovery Farewell Cocktail Party in the bush, and the only thing on the road  was 5 elephants.

2.   I remember having to check the back tire of our safari vehicle (I had to go to the WC behind the van because  no restrooms were nearby) in Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, and therefore, causing our van to have to separate from the other 2 Tauck safari vehicles. This made us a little late, causing only our safari vehicle occupants to see a rare cheetah.

3.   I remember eating Breakfast on a Picnic Table in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania while a Vervet monkey was in our locked safari vehicle with the roof open, having Breakfast from my tote bag. He joyously ate my only package of Fritos and


4.   I remember Victoria Vance of Manhattan walking to her seat carrying her plate of food at our bush luncheon in Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. All of a sudden, a black-shouldered Kite (bird) swooped down from the tree above and stole her juicy steak from her plate. She hollered “He hit me, He took it,” and she didn’t even drop her plate.

5.   I remember in Samburu, Kenya, a Vervet Monkey stealing the English Bread that Blase had on his plate as he was eating Breakfast. That monkey was watching Blase from afar and then suddenly jumped through the open window behind Blase, jumped on the table, and stole his bread and took off, all in an instant.

6.   I remember a beautiful, gorgeous adult leopard resting in a tree, only to learn she was sitting on food she had caught earlier. And then the leopard got up, carried the food in its mouth and left the tree.

7.   I remember 4 hyenas eating the stinky carcass of and elephant or buffalo, in the Maasai Mara in Kenya, and seeing 3 other hyenas who had eaten or were ready to eat, waiting nearby. Also nearby were 2 male lions who probably were involved in the kill, lying nearby, and one had an injured eye.

8.   I remember watching a Herron eat a snake that was yellow on one side. The Herron played with the snake and then ate it, inch by inch. I was watching my first kill in the wild on an African Safari.

9.   I remember Tom, with his huge telephoto lens camera, and several others on the safari, clicking dozens of  photos per second, when a Top 5 animal appeared every time.

Tom also wrote a letter about his safari memories and they are:

1.   I remember the weather being perfect with no rain and everything green, green, and green except Samburu, Kenya which was desert-like.

2.   I remember the elephant in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania coming up to our safari vehicle and smelling us with her trunk.

3.   I remember the 6-7 year old male elephant in Samburu, Kenya, charging, threatening, stomping, and bluffing us in our safari vehicle, trying to get us to leave. And all the while, our safari driver telling us he was just a teenager learning how to be a big bull elephant one day.

4.   I remember in Samburu, Kenya, telling Carolyn to turn around and she said “Why”? And I said “Look”. She turned around, saw the Baboons right by her and screamed and jumped with surprise.

5.   I remember in the Serengeti, seeing 2 hippos in a pond, playing, biting, and fighting each other with their mouths open, showing all those huge teeth.

6.   I remember in Sweetwater, Kenya, being told by the armed Park Rangers to come and pet the White Rhino, Max.  I did right away but Carolyn was scared and, finally, we both had our photo made with him.

7.   I remember spotting the male white rhino on the way to the Tauck World Discovery Farewell Cocktail Party BEFORE our safari driver spotted it.

8.   I remember Carolyn getting a Surprise 25th Tauck Tour cake in Samburu, Kenya, complete with sparkler and the hotel waiters with instruments to accompany her 26th tour send off and many more.

9.   I remember that an African Safari in the wild is the No. 1 most awesome experience in the world and that I promise to be on another African Safari every 2 years with Tauck World Discovery.

Africa Tanzania

Bird Stealth Bomber Dive in Tanzania

In Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, our Tauck World Discovery tour group was having a picnic in a bush area of the crater.  We knew the lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, wildebeest, leopards and rhinos were all around us as we had just seen them.

The tables were set with beautiful red tablecloths, white china, silver ware and wine glasses.  A buffet was waiting and meats were being cooked on site so we each placed our custom order.

The chef placed the huge steak on Victoria Vance’s plate and she proceeded through the buffet line adding salads, fruits and vegetables.

That is when she was hit by the “stealth bomber”.  As she was walking to her seat with her plate of food, a black-shouldered kite, a hawk-like bird, instantly dive bombed down from the tree above and stole that steak right off her plate in a flash.

Victoria hollered, “He hit me, he took it!” and we all looked to see her standing there in shock holding her plate of food, minus her steak. We couldn’t believe she didn’t drop the plate of food and that she remained so calm after the robbery.  We all celebrated her stellar plate performance.

The chef offered Victoria another visit to the buffet, and cooked another huge, fresh steak for her.  This time Victoria made sure no other kite could repeat a dive bomb attack from the air by covering her food with a dinner napkin and hovering over her plate as she walked to her seat.

When all calmed down, we noticed the black-shouldered kite had dropped that stolen steak on the ground.  He didn’t have lunch after all, but we all had a priceless dive bomb experience in the bush on our Tauck World Discovery Kenya-Tanzania tour.

Africa Tanzania

Tanzanian Junk Food Junkie Monkey

In Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, we were having an awesome African breakfast in a scenic riverside picnic area.  Adam, our guide with Proud African Safaris, had just poured our final cup of Tanzanian coffee. Suddenly, Adam grunts “Uhhh” while looking toward the parking lot.

Our van in the right back of this photo, and we couldn’t see it.

Thinking nothing of his grunt, I continued sipping my coffee and then, slowly headed toward our van to continue our game drive.

This van next to us didn’t roll up windows or lower the roof, so he had total access.

As we looked inside of our van, we saw Fritos and vanilla cookies scattered everywhere. We had been hit by the American junk food junkie thief.  How could this happen, I wondered, when all the doors were locked. We looked up and the roof was wide open!  While viewing hundreds of elephants and their babies and other game, we had left it open. Suddenly, the thief jumped straight up through the roof and we realized that we had been robbed by the junk food monkey!  That monkey was having breakfast while we were having breakfast. And his dirty little monkey hands rummaged through my tote bag to steal my only bag of Fritos, and vanilla cookies. How lucky I was that he did not bother my medications and other expensive, priceless items.

This ia all that was left as the cookies were all gone.

Then, we noticed he was going into another van through its roof. Before we could stop him, he jumped into that van and stole a bag of potato chips. Jumping out instantly through the roof, he galloped across the park carrying those potato chips. It was a priceless run of freedom before his next robbery. In that Vervet monkey’s stomach was my Fritos that I had been saving for my stomach when I had an American junk food craving for my favorite snack as I viewed cheetahs, buffalo, lions, rhinos, giraffes, hyenas, hippos, leopards, zebras, elephants and yes, monkeys!