Saturday, August 11, 2012

Magalata, Lake Eyasi and Beyond!

A little while ago, we took a little camping trip out to Lake Eyasi and the village of Magalata.  It was pretty amazing going out to the "ends of the earth" and spending some time with the Wataturu people. Here are some highlights.

The People
The Wataturu people are a small tribe that has many similarities to the Masai- nomadic, they were plaid kangas (like a thin blanket) and herd cows and goats.  They have been strongly resistant to modernizing forces and have been mostly successful by living hours from a main road in a place some of us may consider the "ends of the earth". They have gone to great lengths to preserve their culture, but with the exception of one drunk man who wouldn't let us camp near his family home without giving him "chai" (ie a bribe), all of the Wataturu people that we met were warm and VERY curious about what we were up to. 

David with Tom, an exceptionally educated Mtaturu
 who spoke some English and Swahili (most Wataturu only speak KiTaturu.
Fathers Dan and John, both having served in the area for more than 50 years.  It was an inspiring privilege to hear their stories and watch the way these men interacted with the people- so much wisdom gained over the years.
The Company
Our first stop on our trip was to Ndoleji where we met Fathers Dan, Hung, Don and John.  Hung is a newcomer to the area, but Dan, Don and John have been serving there for over 50 years.  They all had amazing stories about working with the people and describing the changes that have come to the area.  Dan has done some great work building windmills and water tanks for the different villages. In all, it was very inspiring to be amongst these resilient men of faith and learn of their legacies.

The Scenery

The second night we wound our way off road following cattle trails and scrapping past bushes to camp by a dry river bed on the edge of the rift valley.  It was distinct scenery with the rift rising above us and a flat salt lake spreading out to the south.  We set up camp and soon were welcomed by some of the local Watuturu.  They were very intrigued by our different ways of doing everything (or at least we think they were intrigued- they weren't laughing!).  We got up the next morning and hiked about two miles out to some natural pools made in the rock a short way up the rift.  The hike was a little grueling in the sun, but the swim was refreshing for those of us who partook.

The view from our campsite.

The Hospitality
The last night of our trip was spent in Magalata, a tiny village in the middle of what looked like a "moonscape" to some, where Father Dan works with a Small Christian Community. We spent the night sleeping under the stars in a small fenced in compound where Dan stays when he visits the community. The community of 14 Catholics welcomed us with open arms, cooked us a large feast of rice, chicken and beans and then invited us to participate in their nightly worship said in their Wataturu language.
Some of the children in the Small Christian Community if Magalata.

Overall the trip was an incredible experience. It is hard to describe it with words. Here are some pictures that hopefully explain a bit more.

A young Wataturu herder.

By the shores of Lake Eyasi

Sunrise over Lake Eyasi.

Father Mike Basano or Moses?  Mike works near Musoma at Kigera Village and made the trip a lot of fun with his jokes and many folk songs.  

Liz Mach consults with a Wataturu woman.

Of the many things they have in common, probably one of the most special is Father Mike and Caitlin's love for babies.

More babies!

A traditionally dressed Wataturu woman.  

A "salt farm" on Lake Eyasi where many hard workers were collecting salt.

Caitlin catching up on her sodium chloride.

Caitlin catching up on her teaching fix.  Anywhere she goes, this woman finds a way to teach early literacy skills.

The longest one mile walk to the much acclaimed "pools" on the edge of the rift valley. It was hot.

80 year old Father John asking the rest of us why we are complaining so much.  Living in this region for fifty years doesn't make you a couch potato!

Finally we arrived at the pools for a refreshing swim.  Some of us were a little suspect of the water quality.  Others, dove right in!

St. Francis of the Baobabs.  On the ride back to Mwanza, every time we saw one of these amazing trees, Father Mike just had to stop get out and appreciate it's wonder.
The mighty Baobab.

And wonderful they are!  It was a great trip!  Hope you enjoyed the pics (Many thanks to Father Hung who supplied a lot of them, especially the good ones).

1 comment:

  1. I get emotional every time I read an update! What an awe-inspiring journey you two are on. The people you are meeting and the communities you are helping (even when on "vacation") I'm sure are positively affected by your charisma alone! Hope you are well. I will call soon. xoxo