Harriet, one of our COCO volunteers, has just arrived in Kenya where she will be spending a total of 3 months evaluating our projects at Maasai Academy and Mercy Primary. Harriet has recently graduated from Newcastle University with her masters in International Development and Education and will be working to develop and plan future support to the projects. This is her first blog of her experiences in Kenya including viewing the magnificent Rift Valley for the first time and meeting the Maasai!
Maasai Academy, Olorte 15/01/15-18/01/15
I didn’t think I’d have that much to say about my first couple of days in Maasai Land but so far it has been very eventful, a lot of fun and extremely interesting! I’m staying with the Marais family; Hennie, Becca and their children. Hennie and Becca coordinate various initiatives in the area including a primary school called Maasai Academy, a clinic and a successful bead work project.
The original plan was for Hennie to pick me up from Nairobi airport then we would drive back to his home in Olorte, a journey that would have taken approximately 5 hours and meant we arrived in Olorte mid-afternoon. Unfortunately, the day before I left the UK his land rover broke down so a new plan was formed. It was decided that Pelua, who is the bead-work manager for Red Tribe and oversees various parts of development at Maasai Academy, would escort me back to Olorte. Before leaving Nairobi we needed to collect a part to replace the part broken on the land rover. We travelled into the centre of Nairobi to pick up the part, which was extremely heavy, and managed to get it and all my luggage onto a matatu (a small bus which holds about 12 people and the drivers are fearless about overtaking!!). The matatu took us to the large town of Narok which is mid-way between Nairobi and Olorte and from there we would take a taxi into the bush. The journey to Narok took us though some amazing scenery particularly when we were driving with a view over the Rift Valley. There were signs saying it was the 3rd best viewpoint in the world. I’m not sure how official that is but it was certainly spectacular!!
(Not only is this photo an amazing shot over the Rift Valley, it’s also the Maasai Cycle Challenge finishing point!)
After arriving in Narok we transferred all the bags and the land rover part into the taxi to travel onto Olorte. It was a shared taxi and they definitely crammed as many people in as they could! In the front there was the driver and two passengers including a very elderly Maasai lady, and then in the back there was 3 men, 2 children and me so it was very cosy! We set off just as the sun was beginning to set and I was treated again to some amazing scenery. Driving straight through the plains I was lucky enough to see giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, antelope and an ostrich which was incredible for my very first day in Kenya! Driving along with the sun setting and seeing the Maasai boys out herding their goats on the impressive backdrop of the plains was very atmospheric.
The only negative was that as the road was so dusty we had to have the windows up which meant that it quickly became extremely hot in the car with so many people! After about 10 minutes it was decided that being covered in dust was better than overheating so the windows came back down and the dust came in but it was definitely better! The sun sets rapidly out here and before I knew it we were driving in the pitch black. The
Hennie and Becca were waiting for me and after asking about my journey showed me to my tent where I would be sleeping for the next 6 weeks. The tent is a large safari tent located at the bottom of their garden and contains 2 single beds, a chair and a small cabinet so is very welcoming. As I have it