Well, they say there is nothing like being on the ground to understand another country and all it has to offer. During my short visit to Kenya, all of my preconceptions were dismantled, and in their place, I found new friends and a beginning of an understanding of the terrain of a foreign land.
This is not an American’s attempt to convince you of the need to go to Africa because some of what I learned could probably be practiced where ever you live. However, I do believe there is something special about Africa and especially Kenya. Before I get in depth with the social interactions, I need to cover the cuisine I experienced quickly. Unfortunately, this was not the highlight of the trip, not because I did not experience some delicious food but because most of it was geared towards the tourist who seeks some of the comforts of home. I knew I was in trouble when there was ketchup placed on the table at every meal. Actually, on my first morning in Kenya, the hotel buffet carried more authentic dishes than most of my days out on a walking safari. As I got to know the guys I was traveling with at the first chance, I told them to hook me up with some of the food they like to eat. Traditional goat curry with lentils and a maze tortilla was the standout dish.
My request however was not for the squeamish as I was introduced to the traditional way a Muslim slaughters a goat. Let’s just say it is more humane than how the Samburu tribe does it, but not by much. Not to be graphic but the drinking of the fresh warm blood was a new one for me. Let’s just say I was a spectator for that part of the slaughter. I must be a true carnivor because it did not stop me from eating some of the fire-roasted ribs or enjoying the goat curry. Goats are an integral part of the Samburu tribes life and unlike the distant relationship I have to the food I eat, the Samburu raise the goats starting when they are children by tending to the heard and them as adults taking the to market to sell in order to provide for their family.
The arid environment in which the Samburu live is harsh for both man and beast. So life outside the big city leaves little room for more than just survival. Yet, I couldn’t help but admire the simple life in which they lived. The romantic notion of living with nature and how pure the lives of the Samburu seemed. The visit gave me a whole new meaning to God’s Country as the people here in Kenya’s countryside were more angelic than anywhere else in the world I have traveled. Thinking about the current debates here at home, it is hard not to agree with the fact that these are God’s chosen people.