Day 11 Bike, Barbeque, and the Crater

We return to the mainland for our last three days. We stay in a lodge, The Manor at Ngorongoro, outside the rim of the crater. The lodge is on a coffee plantation owned by a Dutch family named Borrasso. It is spectacular. We get mountain bikes and ride until dark exploring the villages surrounding the farm. The fair trade coffee they grow is some of the best in the world, plus the plantation really gives a lot back. We saw schools, hospitals, and a day care all ran by the farm.

I get in a screaming contest with a group of baboons at the gate of the crater. While everyone is inside getting paperwork, I start putting my shoes on with the door open. I look up to see two baboons sitting beside me. I start hitting them with my shoes, and finally get them out. I turn around and one is sitting in the back seat enjoying our boxed lunch. Gabe is right outside the door with his cell phone video recording.

We head to Lake Eyasi looking for the Hadzabe bushmen and a Datoga blacksmith that have lived in this region for 10,000 years. The blacksmith made our arrow tips from nails and knife from a car spring and wedding bracelets from a brass faucet he melted down. They introduce us to their families. Like the Masai, they have multiple wives. Our guide was doing the introductions and translating questions about where we were from, how many children did we have, and how much did I pay for my wife. The guide said one hundred dollars and they started clapping.

Next we look for the Hadzabe bushmen whose numbers are down to six hundred people left. We have a guide local to the area that speaks their strange language, which uses their tongue to make clicks. When we finally walk up on them, it is like we walk up on a wild animal. They are dressed in animal skins and, oddly enough, a Boston Celtic’s jersey stroking a fire. There are skins drying in the trees and animal skulls decorating the trees. We find two tribes. They are nomadic and not always in the same place. They have no concept of money, but they are excited about our arrow points and knife.

They show us their skills with the bow, and different medicines for every ailment and Mosquito repellent It is the mid-morning, not much hunting going on. They shoot some birds and a snake slithers into the camp, scaring the children. They shoot it in the head and then skin it to use on their arrows. A young bushman shows up with a small antelope, called a dyk dyk. They field dress the animal, throw a shoulder on the fire, and eat its liver raw. Gabe tries everything. He will be sick after this. They sit around the fire and smoke ponk(click)ponk(click), a plant that is stronger than marijuana, which Gabe doesn’t try while the meat is cooking. The meat is great. Luke doesn’t eat it. He later tells us the same knife they gutted the deer with was what they were using to cut our meat. We are going to be real sick.

They aren’t very good role models – they don’t follow rules or boundaries. They just hunt all day, their wives are half dressed, and were purchased with a baboon. They have only one wife but they trade out, and they hang out during the middle of the day smoking weed and barbecuing their kill. I always try to interact with locals and this was the best experience so far. I just hope the camps don’t get commercialized like the Masai, where they are trying to sell you trinkets the whole time you visit.

I am now on a layover in Amsterdam getting ready for my second nine-hour flight. The boys are in a casino here at the airport, so I wouldn’t expect much.

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