Archaeology Field Journal – June 24, 2007 – Day 16

The next morning, we woke at 6am. Kesoi’s wife brought us a basin of water so we could wash our faces and then she served us chai made with goat milk. Hands down my favorite cupper of the trip. The goat milk made the chai so sweet and creamy I didn’t need any sugar. We helped with some of the chores, mainly milking. Metian was wide awake and ready to play so I spent most of the morning playing catch with him and making him laugh with funny faces and over-exaggerated actions.

By 9am it was time for us to head back to camp. Kesoi loaded two donkeys with water and we collected the three goats we would slaughter later at the ngoma and hit the trail. It was a three-mile hike back to camp. The four girls in our group were tasked with herding the dozen or so donkeys while Kyle and I had it much easier with three goats. Herding is all about anticipating the animals movement and at the same time giving them the freedom they need so they don’t get spooked and run off; its tricky stuff. We arrived back at camp to find everyone preparing for the ngoma, Dr. Barhtelme and the other professors teased us saying that they’d finished an entire crate of Tusker beer while we’d been gone. I didn’t find it funny.

The ngoma was meant to be our big going away party. We weren’t about to leave Magadi without thanking our hosts for their hospitality. Kesoi had spent all week preparing the guest list while simultaneously working out a deal with Dr. Barthelme for the goats. As the celebration got underway and the Maasai began to arrive, Kyle and I donned our Maasai robes.

We looked dashing if I do say so myself. Kesoi had given each of us a necklace and a staff to complete the outfit. Maasai Eye for the Straight Guy. I think it could be a big hit. We greeted our guests as they arrived, the women stayed separate from the men, as is tradition. Kesoi and two other Maasai men suffocated the goats while we made stone tools out of obsidian and chert. Part of our final exercises in the field was to slaughter a goat using stone tools we had made. This was second nature to me. Last fall, I’d taken a class with Dr. Barthelme on Neanderthals and we’d slaughtered a sheep (if you skip back to November you can watch video of the sheep slaughter). I thought I was good, but the Maasai were amazing. In the time it took us to get the hide off our goat, they had finished two animals. Needless to say the fastest Goat Slaughter Award goes to Kesoi and his friends AGAIN this year.

Alex and Evans cooked up the meat with Alex’s special garlic lime sauce that makes my mouth water just thinking about it. The Maasai men like their meat salted and without any marinade so they stretched it across wooden skewers and grilled it over their own fire. After the men were served, food was taken to the women. I must have eaten half a goat.

After our meal, we grabbed a Frisbee and took Kesoi and five of the other Maasai men to teach them how to play. For being an uber-cool Maasai warrior, I expected Kesoi to be a natural at Frisbee, but he throws worse than my friend Elijah, and she’s BAD! I guess that when it comes to Frisbee throwing, Kyle and I are the Maasai warriors. We had to cut our game short ecause the dance was beginning. The men and women split into two groups; our girls looked smashing in their kongas and Maasai jewelry. Pretty soon everyone was dancing and singing and jumping around, it was wild! Even Metian was dancing and trying his best to jump like the older men. The celebration was an excellent conclusion to our two weeks in the field and a good attempt at thanking the Maasai for being such kind hosts. After the dance we posed for pictures and picked at the leftovers.

The final night was spent just like all the previous ones, on top of the Land Rover star gazing and talking with the girls. I was the last one to go to bed that night. Before I climbed in to my tent, I took one last look at the starry sky and savored a deep breath of Magadi air. I was going to miss Magadi. I’d met so many fascinating people and done so many things I never imagined I’d do. I’d traveled halfway around the world to the cradle of civilization and experienced two of the most amazing weeks of my life without electricity and running water. It had been one hell of an adventure, a test of both physical and mental endurance. It was time to take what I’d learned and head home. Understanding that, I climbed into my tent and called it a night.


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