20/10/13 – NKIITO, KENYA

I get to come back!!

I was telling Jackson my plans for the rest of my excellent adventure here in East Africa and he was very upset that we would be passing through Namanga again and not coming to visit ….so into the itinerary spreadsheet of awesomeness it went (yes, I have an itinerary spreadsheet – have you met me?)

…Jackson told us that the maasai boys with the long hair braids are the trainee warriors, and he’s their teacher. The only way to qualify is to kill a lion (I held my tongue). Jackson has killed a lion! Despite my conservationist tendencies, that’s still beyond impressive. That’s how he was given his lion name, “Sengali”.

….I did some interviews for the water documentary in the afternoon, with Jackson and his mama. The maasai drink one cup of water a day. Their bodies are more accustomed to it, but also there isn’t really enough to drink more than that. I feel guilty every time I drink water, so I tried to cut down, but that made me feel horrendously ill. I can’t get by on less than 1.5 litres a day, and we’re recommended to drink 3 litres when we’re out here.

The whole situation is heartbreaking.

I’m sat here feeling like I’m about to pass out because I’ve only drunk a litre of water today. I’m desperate to get more from the tank, but how can I walk past the children sat outside and take more when they only get one cup a day? As if that weren’t enough, the water hole has dried up since we arrived. The boys have to take the cows 120km every day to Lake Amboseli to drink. And that’s one way.

We’re here– practically on holiday. Having a jolly jaunt down to see the maasai. And at the end of the week we’ll go back to our hotel with its water cooler and showers and washing machine. Jackson and Katisia and Yonda and Baba and all the other amazing people we’ve met will still be here, waiting to see if the rains come this year. Waiting to see if climate change will hold off enough for them to make it through another year until – until… well, it doesn’t bare thinking about.

These are my friends. How – in this day and age- can people who have welcomed me into their family and put a roof over my head be threatened with death because of a lack of water? The government here hasn’t got round to providing them with that basic human right yet. And in the mean time, the rest of the world keeps gobbling up fossil fuels until mother nature isn’t able to provide it for them either.

I have to try to do something.

21/10/13 – NKIITO,KENYA

So I’ll start with baby steps – by making this video as truthful and raw as I can. Hopefully, that can start to make a small difference by assisting AVIF to raise money for the well they hope to build here.  The first stage was a long, detailed, often incredibly distressing interview with Jackson. You will see the result in the teaser film I am hoping to upload on 9/11/13.

I saw an ostrich today. Resisted the urge to shout “Kevin!” and “have you seen a bird? My pack has sent me on a special mission.”

My triumph of the day was as teacher. We found ourselves once again mesmerised by the stars, and Jackson asked what the bara-bara in the sky really was. Where does one begin to explain the planet, the solar system, the galaxy and the universe to a maasai warrior? The – somewhat lacking– sketches in my journal were the glorious result of this endeavour, along with the wide eyed wonder usually reserved for children looking through a telescope for the first time which manifested itself on the face of our favourite maasai warrior.

22/10/13 – NKIITO,KENYA

There were no elephants on this morning’s walk. But that didn’t deter us from creating what turned out to be – in my opinion – our most adventurous day yet. I even shaved my legs in preparation – luxury!

We were lead to a tree just outside the village boundary under which a small group of mamas and their children were sat with a small fire, which had died now to only glowing embers. The little ring of copper wire nestled in between the charcoals, its fiery eyes locked on us; its prey.

I was first. I gripped Jackson’s hand like a vice as the mama swiftly pressed the burning metal into the flesh of my ankle. It was over in a flash. And just like that, I was marked for eternity as the newest member of this little family.

Tori went next. I would love – for her sake – to be the gracious storyteller and tell you the tale of how she sat still and calm, and did not scream either. But alas you know well that I am no such thing!

In the afternoon Jackson taught us how to make chapattis. A surprisingly simple process, onto which he projected the concentration of one trapped in a life or death situation. This was lovingly dubbed Jackson’s “serious chapatti face”,which we continued to imitate for the remainder of our stay.

23/10/13 – NKIITO, KENYA

The water pump is a long way away. And there are innumerable people, donkeys, cows, sheep and goats trying to drink from it. Getting up in the morning and knowing that there is a 3 hour round trip ahead of you before you can eat, drink or wash is not a pleasant experience.

At the pump, we witnessed the magical sight of a sheep being born and taking its first steps……The afternoon was the hottest yet, and the three of us lay on a cow hide under a tree for a hazy eternity, playing boules with rocks, noughts and crosses with rocks, and a similar maasai game that is played – you guessed it – with rocks.

Eventually the heat over came Jackson and me, and we fell asleep under his “ohragarasha” – the shawl/cloak that the warriors wear. ….We headed out to the edge of the Amboseli park as night fell and caught a herd of zebra winding their way lazily across the sunset. This picture perfect image became all too much as the realisation dawned that this was our final night with our Nkiito family. It was difficult to tell by the light of the stars that shone from the bara-bara in the sky that evening, but if you looked carefully across the planes of the Amboseli you may have seen tears glistening on the cheeks of a cheeky maasai warrior and the two naroyeh (girls) sat side by side.

{Editor: video to follow]