July 17, 1987

7/17/87 Nguruman Escarpment

camp on Ol Keju Lenjutoto River

Today’s hike was pretty uneventful. We more or less followed the river north, passing a lot of high grass or thick brush closer to the river. Half of the time, you could feel the trail more than see it. We found leopard and lion tracks near some of the streams. Camp again was in a pretty good spot although the water was a little dirtier. While Aimee stayed in camp, the rest of us went to buy a goat for dinner.

Earlier in the day, Robert had said he saw some bomas but none of us could find them with our binoculars. We must have walked up an incline for about an hour, maybe three kilometers, before we finally came upon the bomas. We approached a group of elders and as custom, entered into small talk. The seemed curious about Maria’s blond hair, and about me. They called me "mzee" which is a sort of title for an elder. Sort of made me feel old. "I was only 29" I said. Guess my bald head elevated me in their minds.

We finally set off to find the goat herd. NOLS had provided us with some money if we wanted to buy a goat from the Maasai. In this kind of transaction, the seller picks the goat and gives a price. It must have taken them another 20 minutes of walking to find where the younger boys had taken the herd. We kept stopping and listening.

The afternoon walk was very hot. Even without our packs, we were all sweating profusely. The herd numbered at least a hundred with three boys in attendance. One of the older boys had a metal spear while the others only had wood. The smallest boy with only a small cloth draped over his shoulders and only one sandal handed Maria a very young lamb. The noisy little bugger had only been born today the elders had told her.

Robert was our spokesman. He said a medium size goat should only cost about 300 shillings. The goat they wanted to sell us was small and the elders wanted 430 shillings. Mike was short 10 shillings, but they held firm their price. No haggling. Finally, I came up with the other 10 shillings when they refused to lower the price.

We used Dave’s belt as a leash and started walking the reluctant goat back towards camp. Two of the Maasai came with us. Maria decided that the goat’s name should be Sammy. While hiking, we saw a group of a dozen giraffe. The amazing thing was that the Maasai led us straight back to our camp using different trails than we had used to get to the bomas.

At camp, Robert took the brown and white goat across the stream. He laid it on its side and clamped a hand around its mouth. I was surprised at how fast the goad died, a couple of minutes at the most. The other Maasai jumped in to help with the butchering while Robert prepared a roasting fire.

They made a cut along the length of the neck and pulled the hide away to make a sort of bowl shape. Then they punctured the jugular and filled the bowl shaped hide with blood. The Maasai then proceeded to drink the blood. I think that he would have loved to drink it all except Mike stopped him. As the say, "when in Rome..." We all ended up drinking some out of the neck except Aimee.

Then they continued to prepare the goat for cooking. The used just about everything. I was somewhat disappointed in my own reaction to butchering a goat that had lived just minutes before, which was none at all. I felt nothing, just a distance. One of the first things the Maasai ate were it’s testicals. I must tell you that I didn’t find the meat all that appetizing, very chewy.

During the meal in which we shared with the two Maasai, they sang just as they had done on the way to camp. One would sing a verse and then they both sang the chorus. One of the Maasai started to sing a song to Maria. When Robert laughed, Maria wanted to know what the song was about. He said it was a song for a Maasai lady.

Finally, before bed, Robert made a few of us goat hair bracelets. Our two friends left our camp and walked into the night without a good bye. They just seemed to disappear.