Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Adrian, Beatrice, and I left Mombasa early in order to make our appointment in Malindi, a few hours up the coast. I felt as if I had made the best of the ISOLA conference, even though my time there was somewhat brief. At least I hadn’t heaved my huts into the Indian ocean the day before, so all was not lost. On the way out of the city, we happened to pass by a critical tourist shopping stop:
We are headed to a section of Malindi known as the first village in East Africa (so I’m told), and I politely decline seeing the coral pillar set by Vasco da Gama (a noble name referring to his mother’s varicose veins), to mark his “discovering” it. We have come here to witness a traditional dance and to sit on the performers firmly until nonsense oozes out from their prepostulators. As we wait for them to dry their drums (for the rains are coming and going), we visit the nearby butterfly farmers’ collective, a project that pays villagers in the local forest to farm butterflies rather than to cut down the trees and make charcoal, or some other less-than-lepidopterrific activity.
We return to the compound, where we suck down some coconut water and watch the show. They begin with traditional dances, but once they are through, we ask about children’s games, trying to edge them ever onwards to nonsensical activities.
They demonstrate a few games, including the following one that seems fairly common throughout Kenya:
The leader of the group goes to great lengths to explain various games, songs, traditions, and old stories.
Because Adrian and Beatrice don’t speak the local language, much of the material has to be roughly translated on the spot into Kiswahili, making our selection process more difficult. By the end of the afternoon, though, we have much footage and a lot of translation work ahead, to see what gems may be within.
After giving us gifts of medicinal plants and flowers, the performers see us off, and we tootle our way (that’s about 6 hours of tootling, making my tootler a bit sore) back to Voi, our resting stop before going back to Nakuru. We end up, after much driving around, getting rooms at the Red Elephant, a game park hotel. In the darkness, about 30 yards from our hotel-hut doors, on the other side of a substantial fence, and standing placidly by a watering hole, a family of elephants slurps us to sleep.