Archaeology Field Journal – June 16, 2007 – Day 8

Finally, wash day. After more than a week in the field, working all day long in the dust and the dirt, Dr. Barthelme took us to a stream about two hours west from camp so we could bathe and wash our clothes. We picked up our Maasai friend, Mepukori, along the way, he had invited us to attend a Maasai wedding later in the day and we gladly accepted the offer. The drive was great, a lot of nice Rift Valley scenery. The sheer size of the Rift Valley always gets me, its just unbelievably massive. We heard a “scary story” along the way about a specific fly that lived in the region we were entering. This fly is called the Tsetse fly and if it bites you there is the possibility you may catch a very nasty “sleeping disease”. We saw a few of them; big brown nasty looking things, but we kept them off our skin.

The wash spot was a fast water stream that ran at the foot of a beautiful set of Rift Valley mountains. The lush green flora was a nice change from the harsher foliage of Magadi; in fact it reminded me a lot of what we left behind in Nairobi. We washed our clothes and then ourselves. I must have washed my hair three times and I still didn’t get all the dirt out. It felt great though knowing that you’d at least smell a little better than when you got there. John, Kyle and I took a hike upstream to view some of the towering stream side cliffs and see if we could find some baboons. No luck with the baboons. The time soon came for us to head out, but we couldn’t find Mepukori anywhere. It seemed we had misplaced our Maasai. When we couldn’t wait any longer, we left without him and headed back to the small town we’d passed along the way for a bit to eat.

Dr. Barthelme ordered us some cooked goat with onions and peppers and ugli. We all had a few Tuskers with lunch, they were warm but I didn’t care, Tusker is Tusker and a week with just water gets old quick. Mepukori finally met up with us, turns out he’d fallen asleep back at the stream. After lunch we headed to the Maasai wedding, which was on the way back to camp. When we first pulled up to the boma, I couldn’t believe how many Maasai were present, at least 80-100. They all looked amazing the way their ebony skin contrasted with the brilliant colors of the kongas. The children were drawn to us like magnets; some of them had never seen mzungu (white people) before. One man offered Dr. Barthelme some goats and donkeys for Jordan, but we decided to keep her because of her osteology skills. Another Maasai, an older woman, took us all one by one into the Maasai circle to dance. Can’t say I was very good, but I’m going to practice before our big ngoma next Sunday. As we left the wedding, a few of the Maasai children tried climbing into the Land Rover with us, it was adorable! We laughed and they cried. It was definitely an experience I’ll remember for a long time.

We headed back to camp late that night and managed to catch a beautiful sunset along the mountains where we had washed that day. Alex and Evans had dinner all ready for us by the time we returned to camp. I finished the night with a bit of stargazing on the Land Rover, a fitting end to a fantastic day.

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