Archaeology Field Journal – June 23, 2007 – Day 15

Woke up at 7am this morning with no archaeological work planned. We had delicious breakfast and then made trip into town for water, even grabbed a little extra this trip so we could wash our hair. With a clean head of hair, I didn’t think the day could get any better and boy was I in for a surpirse. As planned a few days prior, we were spending that night with our Maasai friend, Kesoi, and his family in their boma. After an early dinner, we packed a bag and Dr. Barthelme dropped us off at Kesoi’s just before sunset. The Maasai boma was a fascinating example of the way the Maasai use space and limited resources. We’d been to Kesoi’s several times before, but this was our first time inside the structure. The boma covers about an acre and is surrounded by a fence made of thorny bushes that work well at keeping predators out. At the center of the boma were three pens for the goats, sheep and cows and then encircling the pens were four manyattas, twig and cow dung huts where the families live. The manyattas are very small, standing only about 5 feet tall. They have one small door and no windows. Some light sneaks in through tiny holes in the construction, but most of the light inside comes from a candle or small fire. The inside of Kesoi’s manyatta contained two beds made of sticks and cowhide. Despite their rustic construction, they were quite comfortable.

As the sunset, the boma was enveloped in darkness. We talked with Kesoi and the children, doing our best to bridge the language barrier. William was a big help, and some of the older children had learned English and school so there wasn’t a complete barricade between us. I made friend’s with Kesoi’s three year old nephew, Metian, when I gave him my glow stick. He was fascinated by the lime green utensil and wandered around the boma waving it in front of his face. Kesoi’s wife served us chai made with cow’s milk, which was a step up from the powdered milk we’d been drinking at camp. Kesoi showed us some of his drawings he made in school, pictures that depicted a young warrior’s life in the Rift Valley. The drawings really helped me to understand how Kesoi saw the world when he was young. Absent were pictures of fast cars or dinosaurs or far away landscapes. Instead Kesoi had created finely detailed sketches of cheetah, zebra, giraffes and Maasai men and women performing daily routines such as herding or hunting. I was very impressed by our Maasai friend’s talent and encouraged him to continue drawing.

A while later, after Metian and the other the children had gone to bed, we practiced dancing with Kesoi, Mepukori and some of the young warriors and women. Our Maasai dance moves had improved since the wedding and after an hour of singing and dancing, I was feeling more than ready for tomorrow’s ngoma. About 11pm, things started to wind down and we all headed to our manyatta’s to get some sleep. As long as I’m alive I’ll never forget that night; eight thousand miles from home, sleeping under a stick and cow dung ceiling, lying on a bed of sticks, hearing the sounds of the animals outside, breathing in the smoky air, and reflecting on everything that had happened over the past two weeks. To say I was awestruck isn’t giving it enough credit. The experience was life changing, eye opening and awesome all at the same time and to top it all off I slept great.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s