I should have spotted the signs as we drove to Osiligilai Maasai Lodge. The roadblock was a herd of goats. On the other hand; in Tanzania you see goats all the time.
The landscape around me is stunning. Almost like highland with grassy fields surrounded by mountains. On one side I see a bunch of clouds – I know Kilimanjaro is hiding underneath them. On the other side I can spot Mt Meru.
As we arrive at the lodge the Maasai put on a show for us. They dance and sing and jump – they jump so high, the Maasais. I step out of the car and smile – it’s impossible not to be happy in the company of these people. Colourful as they are in their red, blue and yellow gowns they just brighten up everything.
How to drink cows blood
I’m immediately offered a cold drink. It’s dark red and looks very much like the color of blood… The Maasai chief kindly explains to me that it’s their custom to welcome guests with cows blood…. He does mention in a side note that if I’m a vegetarian it is of course ok to say no – but when I booked this place they asked about dietary requirements and since I hadn’t mentioned being a vegetarian it seems sort of weird if I now suddenly claim to be…. I decide that “When in Rome….”, accept the drink and I am soon welcomed into my overnight home.
My maasai hut
What a home! I’m going to spend the night in a round Maasai hut. In the middle of it all is a bed and above and around the bed everything is beautifully decorated with pearls in all colours. From the ceiling hang long threads with round pearl-things at the end. They are so impractical and you walk into them all the time but I know right away that I’m decorating my terrace at home with these things! This maasai hut is slightly different from a normal Maasai hut in the way that there’s a modern flush-toilet and an excellent rain shower with (warm!) water all day. I love this home and I already want to stay forever.
After a quick tour and a cup of coffee to get rid of the taste of cows blood the Maasai invite me to watch a spear-throwing contest. Back in the days this is how they killed lions that threatened their cattle but today they only kill an old tree-log. They do a pretty good job though – tree-log is soon dead and more dancing and jumping follows.
As the sun begins to set I’m led to a small hill with the most magnificent view. The clouds I saw earlier on Kilimanjaro are gone and left is the precious sight of this mighty mountain and what’s more; behind me the sun is about to set behind Mt Meru and colors the landscape purple, red and orange. The Maasais jump higher and higher as the sun quickly sets. I know I’ve found a new happy place.
Then it’s goat-time. Proudly the young Maasai (who by the way speaks excellent English and is happy to share his stories with me) tells me they have slaughtered a goat because I was coming and it’s now being prepared in typical Maasai-way – on a bonfire. I contemplate for a long time if I should tell him that I don’t even eat lamb, but he seems to excited that I – once again – decide; “When in Rome” and I take the goat I’m being offered.
I still don’t eat lamb….
Luckily I know that a three-course meal is waiting for me and after a few polite bites I let the others eat all they can – they seem to like it and the bits I simply can’t swallow because it’s too fat attract the cats – which the kitchen staff seem very unpleased with 😉
Dinner is delicious! Freshly prepared, organic, tasteful and plenty and soon I’m full and also very tired from all the excitement. A Maasai escort me to my home and asks if I would like coffee brought to my hut at dawn – oh, yes, please. I love coffee! I leave the door open. I know that Kilimanjaro is right outside and the mosquito net will protect me from the bugs.
When dawn breaks
I sleep like a baby until the birds wake up around dawn. The Maasai’s are talking quietly as they walk by my hut – I guess they are on their way to the kitchen to make breakfast.
The shape of Kilimanjaro is barely visible as Martha calls from outside my hut; “madame”, she says – “here is your coffee”. I thank her and take the coffee, wrap the shuka around me and go outside where I sit down in a chair – facing Mt Kilimanjaro. The camera is ready, I’m ready, the sun is rising, I have coffee – that taste of GOAT!
But who cares. The sun rises quickly and all of a sudden it’s shining bright on the top of Kilimanjaro. I think about the people standing there now – at Uhuru Peak. They’ve been climbing all night to see this view from up there and I’m down here looking at them looking at it. I have goosebumps and I feel so lucky and happy and privileged.
Even bad coffee cannot ruin this place. I’m so in love.