Wednesday, April 25, 2012

midsomer murders :: southern england

i'm a big fan of midsomer murders. it's a british tv show that takes place in small english villages. when i visited the south of england, i didn't realize that i was heading to some of the very same villages, where the tv show is filmed. i kept waiting to run into inspector barnaby and while i didn't end up seeing him, the location didn't dissappoint. it was exactly as beautiful as it is on tv.

southern england is full of history. stonehenge, the uffington white horse, oxford, the lincoln cathedral, the list just goes on. it's an inspiring journey through the past in an absolutely gorgeous country side.

Friday, April 13, 2012

ostrich plumes anyone? :: tanzania

2012 is a special year for many young maasai men in northern tanzania. it's the year of the emorata, the circumcision ceremony, which only happens every 6 to 10 years. boys between the ages of 14 and 18 go through the ceremony in order to become a young warrior. the circumcision is performed without anesthesia and in order to become a warrior, boys must remain motionless during the procedure, as much as a blink will prevent them from being accepted as a warrior.

for the following months after the initiation, the boys wear a black robe and adorn themselves with special jewelry made by their mothers just for this occasion. they paint their faces with chalk mixed with water not only for decoration, but to protect them from evil looks and curses. they will make and wear head dresses made of black ostrich feathers which is also a way to ask for blessings during the recovery time.

in the past, young warriors were required to kill a lion, but nowadays as it's no longer an option, instead they hunt hard to find birds. once they kill them, they will display these tiny birds tied to a frame to prove their hunting abilities.

becoming a warrior is not easy. but once the boys pass all the necessary steps to enter in this new phase of their lives, they bring pride to their parents and gain a newfound respect in their communities.

the boys in these photos are from a boma near monduli and being able to photograph them was an incredible treat for me. i spent a morning with them, learning about them and their customs. they were warm and open, yet visibly proud of their new status. i can't thank them enough for their openness. ashe naleng as they say in maa.

and a special thank you goes to samuel tutunyo at "touch africa adventures" for taking me to his village and introducing me to his lovely family.

Friday, April 6, 2012

animals up close :: tanzania

when i first traveled to tanzania, on my itinerary i had a few days safari booked. if lucky I thought, i'd see a couple of animals. little did i know that the national parks in tanzania's northern circuit are teaming with wildlife. since then, i try to do at least a one day safari every time i'm working there. i'm never disappointed and i still get ridiculously excited seeing giraffes or baby elephants.

what's amazing is that the wild animals are not just in the parks, they are all over. i remember a moment when i was driving down a regular 2 lane highway and a group of giraffes just walked by... i thought i was dreaming, or one early morning two leopards were racing in front of my car on the road. the abundance of wildlife is truly incredible. i never thought that the sight of a wild herd of zebras will leave me saying... oh, zebras? yeah, seen hundreds of them.

northern tanzania is a truly incredible place and has a special place in my heart. i love the landscape, the sprawling great rift river valley, the magical ngorongoro crater, the serengeti plains, the mighty kilimanjaro, tarangire park with all its elephants, i could go on and on. if you haven't been there, it's certainly one of the must places to go in africa.

if you go:

best times to visit: june-august
use a local travel company, my favorite is soaring flamingo
visit a maasai village preferably far away from arusha
finish with a beach holiday on zanzibar, my favorite resort is ras michamvi 

home is where the heart is

i just got back from an other few weeks working in tanzania. it was a wonderful experience as always and while i'm delighted to be home, i'm already missing the red earth of africa. so i found this quote that i think does a wonderful job describing this feeling.

"Traveling carries with it the curse of being at home everywhere and yet nowhere, for wherever one is some part of oneself remains on another continent."
- Margot Fonteyn