Posted: October 6, 2011

Name: Ashley Doria
School: The Ohio State University
Major: Environmental Studies
Program: Wildlife Management Studies, Kenya to Tanzania

Living so close to the Maasai people has given my group a unique opportunity to gain an inside look at a culture that no tourist would ever experience. Armed with 9 maybe 10 Swahili words, I and another of my classmates, were taken to one of the resident bomas of the Kimana area.

The first task was to help in building the house. This consisted of us entering the livestock pen and finding the prime cow pies of the morning. Once we had collected our main building material the momma added dirt and water to make the famous Maasai cement. We then slapped the cow pie playdough on to the outside wall, forming small bricks. All the while being surrounded by children, baby goats, dogs, and a few dozen chickens.

The second chore of the morning was to go to the river and collect water. Each of us was armed with a jug to carry back the water, which was conveniently fitted to the back of our heads. Upon our return home we helped the momma prepare lunch by cutting cabbage and stirring a corn meal dish called ugali.

Despite the fact of not using many words throughout the day, I really enjoyed being a part of a culture so rich in tradition. I am, however, glad that I will never have to construct my house out of cow pies, but I am fairly certain my wilderness survival skills quadrupled after that day.