With my measly 5’5” height, my aversion to hot weather, and my personal dislike for red clothing, I knew I wasn’t born to be Maasai.
But hey, in the interest of cultural immersion, why not dip a toe into the local way of life? At Dupoto Forest, a gorgeous conservation area north of the Mara, we got some lessons on traditional Maasai activities.
And – as expected - it turns out I’m definitely not cut out to be Maasai. In fact, in everyone’s best interest, I should probably stay away from most of these activities. Bow-and-arrow shooting resulted in some humorous results. Needless to say, my arrows didn’t hit the target (or come even close). Luckily, I think my clever guides anticipated my ineptitude and gave me a particularly wide berth.
In an attempt to not burn down the largest intact forest in the Trans-Mara area, I left the next activity, fire-making, to the professionals. They have a very precise method: a smooth stick (made of wood from a fig tree) is inserted into a hole in a flat piece of wood (which must be African olive). After a mere minute of quick rotation, small shavings from the olive wood start smoking.
The shavings are dropped onto dry moss, and, with a few puffs of air, the moss catches aflame. Elegant, quick, simple (as long as you’re Maasai).
However, I am happy to say that I’m beginning to get the hang of one skill at which the Maasai excel: weather forecasting. Philomen can predict - to the nearest half-hour - if and when it will rain. Who needs weather.com when you have an expert around?
Anyway, in the midst of the rainy season, we’ve had a lucky streak of sunny weather. Yesterday, something just felt off, and I told Philomen it was going to rain. Lo and behold, my predicted downpour arrived, right on time.
I may not ever become a Maasai warrior, but if I pick up any of their amazing talents while I’m here, I’ll feel lucky.