Waking up to the sound of bugs flying around my ear isn’t exactly a wake up alarm I enjoy. (I don’t really like any other wake up alarms either, but this one I hated a lot!). The smell of breakfast did make me want to stay in a good mood though because it smelled delicious. As we found out at breakfast, one of the warriors had been sitting outside our door all night, keeping an eye out and a spear close at hand. With hyenas, lions, and other wildlife roaming, well, wild, we were thankful to be protected all night by someone with a spear.
After breakfast, and few reminders that we would be going “pulli-pulli”, we set out on yet another trek up the hill and back down to camp. On this trek, however, it was quite interesting because we learned all about nature’s magic, culture, and many other cool things that I never knew.
On the way up the hill, Mary pointed out a small cave in a ditch. She explained that in order to see if a warrior is actually ready to be a warrior, you must live in that cave and survive for 2-6 months. Every boy (no girls) was shipped off to this cave at the age of fourteen whether he wanted to or not. If you survive, then you have succeeded in the final test before becoming a warrior. If you failed the test, well, you get the picture!
As we continued to walk up the hill, Qweyla spotted a flower in the middle of nowhere. He pulled it up and beneath it was a big white root. He explained that this was a wild carrot and it was safe to eat. He proved that to us by letting us take a bite out of it. It did taste like carrot. A few more meters up, Qweyla stopped us, hacked a branch off a bush, skinned it, chopped it into pieces, and handed it to us. He told us to chew the ends of the stick until it was soft and then rub it all over our teeth. Apparently, this was nature’s toothbrush. By the end of the rubbing, we were quite surprised with the results. My teeth felt smooth and very clean. Too bad we didn’t keep some!
Once we got near the top of the hill, Qweyla found a couple of long, straight branches and carved Connor and I a spear.
He spent quite a long time taking the bark off the sticks, carving the ends to a sharp point, and marking the centre of the stick where you hold it – ensuring the balance was just right.
We also sat in a crocodile’s mouth (not really, just a stone formation that looked like a crocodile mouth!) and then we headed back to camp where we were greeted with lunch.
After filling our stomachs, Connor and I practised spear throwing for several hours.
Qweyla showed us how to throw our spears at a poor unsuspecting cactus and we practised over and over until we became more accurate with our throws.
We also had a short rest, because later, we had to go into the woods and survive there for the night.
We set off a while later and began our trek into the wilderness. It was an hour before we arrived at the special place the tribe uses for their ceremonies and celebrations. A couple of warriors were waiting for us there. They had set up a very basic camp with a fire pit in the middle and five beds around the fire.
The beds were made completely with leaves. The leaves were just piled layer upon layer upon layer, which was a good thing, because it provided more cushioning.
A goat was tied to a small tree right beside the beds. Little did he know that he was to be our dinner. Yep, we were going to have to slaughter it.
We got ourselves settled (as settled as you can be in the wilderness) and had a brief look at the area. We were completely surrounded by trees and bush. And yes, in case you were wondering, our bathroom was a purely natural one as well (aka behind a bush).
On one of the beds they had placed drinks and we could help ourselves to tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. Everyone sat around the fire pit talking for a bit while I helped myself to hot chocolate. Connor was explaining to my mom that he was tired and a bit anxious about having to slaughter a goat. Of course it didn’t help his nervousness when a big, black spider crawled out of one of the beds, coincidentally, the bed he would soon be sleeping on. Despite the fact that he was tired, he really wanted to stay up as long as possible to avoid an insect infestation in his clothes.
After a few more minutes of chatting, Salaton explained how the goat is eaten. He said that they believe they must eat the entire goat and none of it is to be wasted or else the spirit of the goat will not live a good second life (or something along those lines). One of the warriors began to get a fire going while another untied the goat and brought it over to a pile of leaves beside us. Mary explained that they don’t cut off the goat’s head or “kill it” but rather they put it to sleep. She said that they suffocate the goat so it won’t make any noise and it just goes into a deep sleep.
They got the fire going just as the sun began to set. Qweyla and a couple other warriors held the goat down. Qweyla kept the jaw locked together so the goat could not breath, by taking one hand and locking the jaw shut. At the same time, the palm of his hand pressed down on the nostrils, sealing them closed so there was no way the goat could inhale or exhale. It took a couple of minutes but the goat eventually died.
Salaton then explained the stages they follow to eat the goat. First, the warriors drink the blood. Secondly, they eat the kidneys raw. Thirdly, they burn, roast, and eat the hooves. Fourthly, the ribs are skewered and cooked over the fire and then all of the other bits are roasted. Finally, the head is burned and then boiled. The only thing not eaten are the bones, and even they are split open so you can eat the marrow and then they are used as tools.
The fire got massive because we needed to cook the goat. We were practically laying trees on the fire, we got it so big.
We cooked the goat and gradually devoured it. That was dinner and it was actually pretty good. We then danced around the fire doing some sort of tribal ceremonial dance. Again, it was quite confusing for me, because I don’t know the language. All we said (or what we were told to say) was “angai”.
We stayed up a little longer and then a jeep arrived. They explained that they bring sleeping bags for us because they have learned that visitors are often not comfortable just lying on top of the leaves. They also brought a tent, in case it poured rained we could stay in there until the worst of the rain passed.
We lay down on the “bed” and tried to get some sleep. I was paranoid. After seeing more than one spider crawling out of this pile of leaves, I was scared to death! Even so, I eventually got so tired that I fell asleep under the stars.
Oh boy, that sounds like quite the experience! Proud of you all for being so brave. An experience that will last a lifetime!