September 3, 2012 by Keisha || The Girl Next Door is Black
Day two of safari–
Our safari trip began the day before with a visit to Tarangire National Park, home of Ngorongoro Crater. As our safari guide informed us, “crater” is actually a misnomer as there are living creatures residing in the area, which is an active volcano. The crater is pretty damn impressive. There are tens of thousands of animals living there along with Maasai who live in huts and tend to their cattle and other animals.
The highlight of the two-day safari was the lion incident. All weekend, we’d been hoping to see a lion in action. Even I, the animal lover, joked impatiently, “Is it too much to ask that I see a murder while I’m here? I don’t think these lions understand just how far
I’ve traveled to see them. Work with me here!” As we made our way back up the crater in the truck, we spotted a line of safari trucks pulled over on the side of the road. That’s almost always a sign that there’s something to see nearby. Sure enough, our guide slowly pointed out 1, then 2, then 4, then 7 camouflaged lions. Their target: a poor lone gazelle. Once I realized what might actually occur, I knew I didn’t want to see the gazelle lose the fight between prey and predator. We all watched intently, eyes darting between the lion and the gazelle, and spoke in hushed tones. Well, almost all of us. G_ said loudly, with his slight Southern drawl, “Hey lion. Come to papa!” and laughed heartily. We all shushed him, including the party in the safari van next to us. No one wanted to spook lions. They might go after us instead! We watched it all for 10 minutes during which time it seemed the lions were enjoying torturing their prey with fear and the gazelle seemed to be weighing its options. Finally, the gazelle seemed to make a decision and we watched as the gazelle and two tubby warthogs hightailed it away from the lions. The lions, strategically positioned, did not give chase. Shortly after, they all slowly rose and en masse walked toward the safari trucks. Shit. We watched as they hulkingly rumbled toward us. Je_ teased me, “You wanted to see some action. Your window’s open, one of those lions could reach in here.” I quickly closed my window and soon after, a lion walked right by my window, less than 5-feet away from me. This is one of the coolest moments I’ve ever experienced.
We ended our two-day trip with a return to the lodge where we’d spent the previous night. During lunch at the lodge, our
Maasai guide, Zak, and our driver, Grayson, discussed the differences between their two tribes (or “ethnic groups” depending on what’s PC now; I did not catch the name of Grayson’s tribe). In Maasai culture, it is okay to have more than one wife, who are sometimes paid for with cows and/or goats. Maasai men can “share” their wives with other Maasai men. This is not the custom is Grayson’s tribe, which practices monogamy. Zak asked us what happens in the US if a man has more than one wife. He was beside himself with shock when we informed him that it’s call “bigamy” and it’s illegal. Same for Finland, M_ added. Additionally, prior to getting married, Maasai men must endure public circumcision during which they are not allowed to show pain, otherwise they are considered weak and unmanly. Their debate about tribal rituals was amusing. After digesting our last meal, we headed back “home” to begin another week of volunteering.
See more photos below.