Sunday, January 23, 2011

Field trip!

Today we had a great field trip to Olorgesailie (an pre-historic excavation site where the Mary and Louis Leakey found ... some important fossils) and a Maasai Village. The scenery was breathtaking, and it was great to get out of Nairobi for the day into the clean, quiet air of the Rift Valley.

Olorgesailie was pretty cool. Apparently the entire area used to be a lake (a long, long time ago!), and after it dried up the sand and silt that were left over were great for preserving fossils, so tons of animal bones, human fossils, and early stone hand axes have been found over the years. (I can't figure out yet how to post pictures in the middle of the blog, so they're all just going to come at the end, with captions). There are even million-year-old elephant and rhino bones. For comparison, the elephant bone they found - it's actually a different, much bigger species than today's Indian and African elephants - was placed next to a normal elephant bone to show how much bigger the older species was. Crazy!

After Olorgesailie, we went to a Maasai Village run by Chief Joseph. I was truly amazed by the hospitality we were shown there. We spent some time in the "bush" (that's what they call it!) and saw about a gazillion giraffes. The giraffe centre was cool, but to see that many in the wild was great. After trekking around for what seemed like a long time, we headed back to the village for lunch and some cold Cokes. After, the women of the village did a traditional dance for us (very cool!) and Joseph modeled his warrior headdress. We spent the next hour or so chilling and talking - about the villages, Joseph's hopes for it (he's attempting to build a school, since the nearest primary school is currently a 45-minute walk away), and the traditional Maasai lifestyle. All in all, it was a fantastic day.

Stone hand axes at Olorgesailie.

Elephant bones - the top one is a bone from a modern elephant; the bottom one is from a pre-historica elephant (so big!) The bottom bone is about a million years old, according to our tour guide.

Giraffes in Maasailand!

Chief Joseph in his traditional warrior headdress ...

... and me in Chief Joseph's traditional warrior headdress.

The women of the village did a traditional dance for us. Such colorful clothing!
In other news, I've continued expanding the list of things I can say I've done while in Kenya. Friday night we had a dinner party, and Sabina brought some fish to add to the meal. As I think I've mentioned, Kenyans eat fish whole (and I do mean whole - you literally have to pick the meat off the bones), and the head is considered the best part. While I couldn't bring myself to eat fish brains, I did eat an eyeball - another delicacy. I wish I could say I embraced the experience, but it was truly disgusting. It didn't really taste like anything, but the fact that I was eating the eyeball of a fish made me gag repeatedly. And today at the Maasai Village, I had my first experience with pit toilets; basically, they're holes in the ground which you squat over to do your business. Again, I wasn't thrilled about using it, but it was the only option available, and I really had to go. It actually wasn't as bad as I was expecting - to put it nicely, everything went were it was supposed to, and luckily I had thought to bring some toilet paper in my bag (if you don't have something as basic as a toilet seat, you generally don't have any TP, either).

So that's all. The culture shock is starting to get a bit better, and I'm still livin' it up here in Kenya. Today was great, and I'm going to try to continue embracing new experiences and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. That's what the next 3 and a half months are all about, right?


  1. Emily,
    Sounds like a great experience. To see that many giraffes just running right by you must be incredible. We only see one or two at the zoo! Also, I could not eat the eyeball of a fish, so I'm glad you tried and told me about it. I was gagging as I was reading your words. You make me laugh sometimes when I read about your experiences. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Mama Loeliger

  2. Wow, you are so brave to eat the fish eyeball. I am not sure I could stomach that lol.
    The pictures are amazing! The women's clothes are so beautiful and colorful! That must have been so cool to see giraffes in the wild!
    By the way, great job updating your blog!! I was terrible at it in Cairo. I really enjoy reading about your experiences!

  3. What ever you do Em, Don'tlet them feed you Chilled Monkey brains. I love you honey.

  4. 1. can I just say that the elephant bones are super cool :)
    2. It´s so cool to hear about all your new experiences,and it sounds like you´re really embracing it!