From Dar Salaam, our group traveled to an area near Lake Natron. This was my favorite part of the trip- it was by far one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. It was through Kilombero North Safaris, and we stayed in a camping/hunting lodge for a couple days with a group of professional hunters. We got to practice shooting at an open air range with a master firearms instructor, and learned how to shoot different kinds of rifles. Akram, who runs Kilombero North Safaris and owns the lodge we stayed at (and many other hunting lodges throughout Tanzania), stayed with us along with some of his family. They were amazing people and by the end of our stay, we felt like one big family. One of the days we visited a primary school of over 700 Masaai children, and we gave them bags of school supplies, clothing, and food. They held a naming ceremony where they gave each of us Masaai names, dressed us in traditional Masaai clothing, and sang for us. They really take your breath away! Aside from visiting the school, we also got to go inside a Masaai village and see how they live and I even got to go inside one of their huts! Each night after dinner, our group sat around the camp fire talking and telling stories, and one night a Masaai tribe came to sing and dance for us in front of the fire. It was so cool because I remember studying about Masaai culture when I was a World Arts & Cultures major at UCLA, so it was surreal to be able to be there in person and experience their culture first hand. Below you can see bits and pieces of my magical experience at Lake Natron. TAKING OFF FROM DAR SALAAM TO LAKE NATRON
ARRIVED AT OUR CAMPING LODGE. NOTHING BUT UNTOUCHED LAND FOR MILES….
TAKING IT ALL IN WHILE DRIVING AROUND LAKE NATRON WATCHING THE SUNSET. IT WAS SO PEACEFUL. I’VE NEVER BEEN ANYWHERE THAT HAS BEEN SO “UNTOUCHED”. IT WAS GOD’S WORK- MOTHER NATURE IN IT’S PUREST FORM. AS CORNY AS IT MAY SOUND, I REALLY FELT CLOSER TO GOD BEING THERE. YOU COULD HEAR A PIN DROP IT WAS SO QUIET. NO PEOPLE, NO CARS, NO BUILDINGS, NO LIGHTS. ALL YOU COULD HEAR WAS THE WIND, THE OCCASIONAL SOUND OF BIRDS, A GIRAFFE GRAZING AND EATING LEAVES OFF A TREE…IT WAS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND SERENE PLACES I HAVE EVER BEEN IN MY LIFE.
OUR GROUP WITH AKRAM (STANDING BEHIND ME) AND HIS KIDS AT THE CAMPING LODGE
OUR BEST MEALS OF THE TRIP WERE AT OUR CAMPING LODGE. THE PICTURE ABOVE WAS MY FAVORITE MEAL. EVERYTHING WAS SO FRESH… FROM THE JUICES TO THE MEAT- NOTHING WAS FROZEN OR PROCESSED. THE MEAT WAS KILLED, COOKED AND SERVED ON OUR PLATE. THE MEAT IN THE PICTURE ABOVE WAS LAMB WHICH WAS THE BEST LAMB I EVER HAD. I NORMALLY DON’T LIKE LAMB BECAUSE IT HAS A DISTINCTIVE “GAMEY” TASTE, BUT I DIDN’T TASTE THAT IN THIS LAMB. IT WAS SO TENDER AND FLAVORFUL. THE REST OF THE PLATE WAS OCRA, CARROTS, POTATOES, RICE, BROCCOLI AND WE HAD A ZUCCHINI SOUP TO START. AFTER EATING LIKE THIS FOR A WEEK MY BODY FELT THE DIFFERENCE. I FELT HEALTHIER. EVERYTHING IN AMERICA IS PROCESSED AND FILLED WITH PRESERVATIVES. IT’S HARD TO FIND 100% FRESH FOOD WITHOUT STEROIDS, PRESERVATIVES ETC. I ALREADY MISS THE FOOD!
THE MASAAI COMING TO OUR CAMP TO PERFORM FOR US! I WILL POST VIDEO OF MY TRIP IN A FOLLOWING POST SO YOU CAN SEE! AMAZING TO SEE.
AFTER THEY PERFORMED FOR US, THEY MADE THIS DRINK THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE GOOD FOR STOMACH DIGESTION & YOUR HEALTH. I FORGOT THE EXACT INGREDIENTS THEY USED, BUT I BELIEVE IT WAS MADE WITH TREE BARK, PLANTS, DIRT, GOAT JAW, AND WAS TOLD THEY USUALLY MAKE IT WITH COW OR ANIMAL BLOOD (WHICH THEY DIDN’T THIS TIME). I WANTED TO TRY IT BUT THEY SAID IF YOU WERE ON ANY MEDICATION THAT WE COULDN’T. I WAS ON MALARIA PILLS AT THE TIME SO COULDN’T DRINK A WHOLE GLASS BUT I DID TAKE A SMALL SIP. I CAN’T REALLY DESCRIBE THE FLAVOR- BUT THE BEST DESCRIPTION I HAVE IS THAT IT TASTED LIKE WARM WATER MIXED WITH DIRT.
THE NEXT DAY….THERE WERE LITTLE DUST DEVILS CAUSED BY THE WIND (YOU CAN SEE BEHIND ME IN THIS PICTURE). WHEN WE WERE DRIVING IT WAS REALLY DUSTY SO COVERED MY FACE…AND DECIDED TO TAKE A BAD ASS PICTURE WHILE I WAS AT IT.
INSIDE A MASAAI HUT. IT WAS PITCH BLACK INSIDE! I COULDN’T STAND UP STRAIGHT THE ROOF WAS LOW AD THE SPACE IS VERY SMALL. EACH HUT HOLDS A FAMILY OF AROUND FIVE OR SIX PEOPLE.
THE NEXT PICTURES BELOW ARE AT THE LAKE NATRON PRIMARY SCHOOL…
THEY WELCOMED US WITH SINGING AND DANCING. AT THIS SCHOOL THERE ARE OVER 700 MASAAI CHILDREN. A LOT OF THEM ALONG WITH THE TEACHERS LIVE AT THE SCHOOL. THERE ARE ONLY 6 BATHROOMS, AND THEY ARE NOT SEPARATED FOR BOYS & GIRLS. THEY DON’T HAVE PLUMBING SO THERE ARE NO ACTUAL TOILETS. THEY ARE IN NEED OF SCHOOL SUPPLIES. A PENCIL IS A BIG DEAL TO THEM. WE BROUGHT BAGS OF SCHOOL SUPPLIES AND HANDED THEM OUT TO THE KIDS BUT THERE IS A LOT OF WORK TO BE DONE AND OUR GROUP IS LOOKING INTO HOW WE CAN ADOPT THIS SCHOOL AND PUT MONEY INTO FIXING IT.
THE MASAAI NAMING CEREMONY. WE ALL GOT MASAAI NAMES AND WERE DRESSED IN TRADITIONAL MASAAI CLOTHING. MY MASAAI NAME GIVEN TO ME MEANT “GRACE”.
THESE CHILDREN HAD THE BRIGHTEST SPIRITS. THEY WERE SO EXCITED FOR US TO BE THERE. I WILL NEVER FORGET THEIR SMILES…
WE DIDN’T SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE BUT WE DIDN’T NEED TO. SHE RAN UP TO ME AND I TRIED COMMUNICATING WITH HER ASKING HER NAME AND AGE AND SHE MANAGED TO UNDERSTAND. EVEN WITH THE LITTLE THEY HAVE, ALL OF THE KIDS SEEMED TO HAVE THE HAPPIEST SOULS AND IT WAS SO INSPIRING. SOMETIMES WE FORGET THAT THE SIMPLEST THINGS IN LIFE CAN BRING HAPPINESS. YOU DON’T NEED FANCY CARS, CLOTHES OR SHOES. LIVING IN LA IT’S HARD TO NOT GET CAUGHT UP SOMETIMES ESPECIALLY WITH SOCIAL MEDIA NOWADAYS. THESE KIDS DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO ANY OF THAT AND THEY RADIATED WITH HAPPINESS AND EXCITEMENT OVER A SIMPLE INTERACTION. I WILL NEVER FORGET THEM. THEY WERE ALL BEAUTIFUL SOULS.