In Nyanza
September 30, 2012
October 4, 2012
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My Ostrich

I am forewarning anyone who has been reading these posts that this will be a very silly one. Tomorrow we are headed off to the Kisumu area for our last school visit in Kenya before we fly out to Tanzania. We have spent 2 days really getting to know the teachers and students at Sega. We have met remarkable people and been guests at the house of a woman who is raising her children to succeed against all odds. We will post videos when we get back and share our stories.
Tonight, however, we are bone tired. Harriet has arrived from her family’s home in Mityana, Uganda after a long bus ride to Busia, where we picked her up. The other four of us are equal parts inspired to continue our work with these young women and giddy with exhaustion. Or perhaps I only speak for myself!
In any case, tonight we eschewed our usual review of student issues and school impressions over dinner to enjoy one another’s company and look back over some of our photos and videos. I travel with a fantastic group of people.
So for tonight’s post I am just going to tell you about my ostrich. You see, in the Rift Valley we slept in tents on Caroline and Micah’s small compound. As Masai, Caroline and Micah normally would maintain livestock over a large, shared territory, moving as water, weather and grazing resources varied. They would, like others in their village, have a fence made of interlaced branches or planted cacti around a small house and behind which the livestock would be led at night. During the day, wild animals wander the area alongside the domestic herds and with the boys and men that watch them. Impala, apparently, like to stick with goat flocks; ostriches follow cattle. Because Masai oppose the killing of wild animals, and everyone shares a fear of big cats, the arrangement works very well. We saw it in action all around Caroline and Micah’s home.
Sleeping in Caroline and Micah’s compound we had separating us from the grazing grounds only a basic, loose wire fence really designed to protect Micah’s garden from cows and goats. Fortunately, we also had some unexpected security help. The ostriches I mentioned above are of a very confident sort. Their only predators are non-Masai peoples and particularly determined large cats. They are thoroughly unimpressed by wild dogs-or us, for that matter.
The first night at Caroline’s we heard a strange bassoon-like thrumming accompanied by some shuffling sounds a few feet from our tent. I think both Kathleen and I woke up at that point. But we were wide awake a few minutes later when a screeching roar broke the night followed by the sound of yelping dogs beating a hasty retreat across the plain. I would have made a break for the van had Caroline not warned us earlier that ostriches can sound like lions. As it was, we heard the dogs chased away at least once more during night.
The ostriches snuffled and thrummed near our tent throughout the night. For the rest of the stay in Rift, we lay quietly in our tent each night, comforted by the bassoon-like hums and snuffles of the ostrich that watched over us.
I did try to thank the ostrich the last day as we passed by after a hike. She looked at us calmly without even a fluff of her feathers. I like to think she was accepting the thanks of her fragile humans with the dignity and condescension only an ostrich can project.
Goodnight everyone! And may your dreams, too, be guarded by a large and feathered spirit.

1 Comment

  1. brookskeene says:

    This was hilarious! It sounds like you’re having an amazing and magical (and productive) trip. Somehow I seem to end up with either magical or productive. Way to go!

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