It was a lovely morning, though cold. Despite my layers, I was grateful to get back and have a hot mug of Tuma’s chai, and eat toast with peanut butter. For the rest of the day, Buddy and I sat together to work on the income survey. Both Shayo and Neo have taken passes at taking the English version into Swahili. Now Buddy and I go through it one more time. We catch a few things that need to be added, make more edits, translate again. Finally, as night falls, we finish
Yesterday we went to Emboret in big old Tammy, who is a former Serbian troop carrier built in Yugoslavia, 1976. She’s a tough 8-wheeled lady, and along with four of us in the cabin, took almost 40 rolls of chain link down 60 kilometers of rough dirt roads. While she’s seriously tough, she’s not the most gentle ride. While the driver and passenger have a seat, the center area is a platform-continuation of the dashboard, complete with gun clamps. Christy and I switch off propping ourselves in this center area next to Maina (mai-ee-na), the Maasai staff person who has been designated chain-link-offloader, our feet braced on the dash and our hands grabbing the seat edge or rollbar or windowsill, or whatever will keep us from sliding into Maina.
I was startled to see how different the landscape is around Emboret. While Loibor Siret is mainly ridges of woodland with trees every 10 feet or so, Emboret sits on an expanse of smoothly rolling hills, devoid of anything but grass and some very low shrubs. From nearly anywhere in the village, you can look out to see plains dropping into the dark silhouettes of distant mountains.
“Emboret needs Living Walls,” says Elvis, our human-wildlife conflict officer, “Look how open it is. People can’t haul enough thorn to build a good traditional boma, and it’s so open that the predators can grab livestock and just run away.” One of the bomas we visited had 20 goats killed by a lion just a few days ago. The residents do need to arrange special transportation to cut and carry the Commiphora to their boma, but unlike the constant replenishment that traditional bomas require, Commiphora on a Living Wall is a one-time gig.
At one house, the former district commissioner’s boma, his well-spoken daughter offers us milk. For Christy and me, it is our first taste of Maasai cow’s milk. As neither of us got sick, we assume it had been boiled. It was flavorful, creamy, and very fresh – the way milk ought to be, we agreed later. After we’ve delivered all our chain link, we chow down on fresh, very oily chapati washed down with Sprite. The lunch of champions!
By the time we head back, we are all exhausted. Still, Paolo picks up some free-riders in Narakao after we meet Elvis’ beautiful wife and little girl. They consist of a goat, the goat’s owner, three Maasai heading to Kangala, and later, a dirt bike with a broken chain and its two forlorn riders. Buddy and Laly are back from Arusha, we discover upon our return, and full of goodies including a resupply of fruit and other food, new AAA batteries (for our dying headlamps!), re-registered SIM cards for our internet, and fresh energy to ford all of our incessant questions.