We had just driven across a part of the Masai Mara, having watched the sun come up over the African landscape, having the opportunity to see lions, cheetahs, and other grand creatures of a safari. I was eager to get back to my lodgings near Nairobi – it had been a long trip, and I was frankly a bit tired. As we closed off our safari adventure and headed back to civilization, our bus got a flat tire. Right in the middle of the African wild.
Somehow, we dragged ourselves to a tiny little village. The Masai people spoke English, and I wandered around the town. I was surprised to see a local wearing a CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) t-shirt, but I recognized that as a byproduct of ” international relief”. I met some boys and sat with them; we made videos on my phone and had an enlightening chat about what it’s like to grow up in the Mara.
I met a Masai man, all dressed up in the traditional garments. We began to talk, and he saw that I was holding a water bottle with the Canadian flag on it. “I need that bottle” he said. “It’s my only bottle for water,” I said, “How about I trade you for something,” he said. He gave me two options: 1) a Masai wooden warrior weapon, for use of bonking enemies across the head, or 2) his traditional red Masaai Warrior cloak. “I’ll take the cloak.” I gave him my bottle, and he gave me his cloak, both happy to have given each other relics of where we come from.
His cloak was musty smelling, pungent, yet it held the essence of the Masai. I never washed the cloak. It sits enclosed in a plastic bag in my keepsakes, for one day, I know, I’ll search out that cloak, put it on, and be brought back to the corner of the world that still has my heart.