Living in a Maasai village
After spending two hours on the dirt road we arrived in Terrat and settled in to our room, which was a small rustic room in the old school building. We spend the afternoon walking around the village, taking in the scenery and getting to know the place better. Some local children joined our group and walked with us to the construction site for the new school.
We had already been told that there would be a celebration that night to welcome all of the volunteers, but we weren’t sure what to expect. When we arrived at the old school we saw a large group of women dressed in their traditional Maasai attire, wearing many big earrings and huge traditional necklaces. They began to sing and dance with so much passion! We were so moved by the celebration, it was really emotional for us and that’s when it really hit us, we’re really in Africa!
The women move their shoulders up and down, making the necklaces bounce to the rhythm of the songs. The men also joined in on the singing and dancing, jumping up and down (yes, they do jump very high)! When they bump their shoulders to you it means that you have to dance in the center by bouncing your shoulders up and down. It was a lot of fun watching all of the volunteers try to imitate them and trying to do it ourselves! Afterwards, a group of community leaders welcomed us and gave us each a traditional Maasai shawl. There were speeches and prayers before our dinner, which consisted of rice, vegetables, and goat meat.
We didn’t get great sleep because we could hear what we thought were bats near our beds, but after a couple of days we got used to it. We also got used to showering out of water buckets, eating rice every single day and using the latrines. Well, we didn’t exactly get used to using the latrines and still miss regular toilets, but we can get by.
The following days we woke up early, had bread with jam and coffee for breakfast, and walked over to the construction site to begin working. We always ended up walking next to a herd of cows and found it amusing that that was our morning traffic. We ate rice every day; sometimes we had chicken or potatoes and vegetables. In the evenings we had the same thing for dinner, sitting by the fire and playing with the local children.
We met many Maasai kids, most of whom don’t speak Swahili or English, so they had fun teaching us some basic Maasai words. The children here are very friendly, they would get really excited to see us and would rush over to greet us and give us a hug. They always wanted to play with our cameras and would walk with us to the work site. We really grew fond of them over this past week!
Overall it was a great week for us, and suddenly it was time to go back to Arusha, the rest of the volunteers will be going home and we will be staying for another 2 months to work on the ground. A farewell celebration was held on our last night in Terrat, where a cow was slaughtered and cooked by a bonfire to thank all of the volunteers for their work. There was a lot of food, music, and farewell speeches. Certainly one of the best nights to end one of the best weeks!