Lake Eyasi
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Hunting with the Hadza people
The Hadza of northern Tanzania are among the last people who continue to survive by hunting and gathering; they live as all hominids lived for millions of years. Fewer than a thousand remain, with only about 250 still practicing their traditional lifestyles. When I heard about an opportunity to “hunt with the bushmen,” it seemed irresistible, a way to glimpse a living fragment of our once-universal past. The outing began before dawn. Three adult men were sitting by a fire, and a handful of women and kids drifted into the central clearing. As the sun began climbing, the Hadza men leapt to their feet and strode off, trailed by the group's tribe of 10 scrappy mutts. It's hard to describe the adrenaline rush we felt, scrambling to keep up. Black mambos, adders, and other snakes inhabit this landscape, but I took care to watch where I stepped. A bigger challenge was avoiding being snagged by all the dense clusters of acacia thorns. Harder still was keeping up with the three hunters. They looked like they were merely strolling briskly, but they surged ahead, trim as gazelle, arms and legs muscled like carved ebony. They killed five birds. Back at the camp they plucked, roasted, and shared them. We didn’t notice if the mutts got any of the fragile bird bones. For them, it was just a routine morning. For us, it was magical.
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Giving the Locals a Lift
While on safari in Tanzania, we had the unique opportunity to visit with local tribal groups, which inhabit the area around Lake Eyasi and the Serengeti. Suspecting this would be mostly contrived and geared specifically for tourists, I was a bit skeptical on just how authentic the experience would be. Fortunately, we did manage to have some truly ‘genuine’ interaction, specifically with the Datoga tribe people, who very warmly welcomed us into their (mud hut) homes and allowed us to hold their babies while our kids gave piggy-back rides to their children. This was not done in hopes for money. Instead, it was an act of unadulterated trust and appreciation towards a culture and people so different from their own. As we waved our arms for good-bye with smiles all around, my son said to me, “I don’t think these people worry about the bad economy.” “No they don’t,” I replied, as my grin grew wider.
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