Week 5, filming the Hardest Harvest

Hi all , welcome back to our weekly blog. Firstly I would like to thank all involved in last Fridays concert at the church at Cannons Cross in Iniscarra for such an amazing evening, such a generous donation to Our Maasai family. The talent at the concert was truly amazing .
Last week we gave you all an insight into what was involved in the lead up to filming the documentary & also some detail about 2017 as a whole.
Early November arrived, we were busy on the farm, weather conditions were poor here & workload was hectic as we were also buffer feeding the cows silage, cows needed to be dried off & heifers were in early as ground conditions were bad.
The crew arrived on a Monday morning to start 2 days of filming on farm, it consisted of interviews , filming us doing work. Its not easy to get a days work done with a film crew in tow the whole time but we got it done. We also had a meeting to confirm travel dates, originally I was supposed to go in October which would have suited grand as workload was less then on farm. 11th November , departure day confirmed & flights booked, this wasn’t going to be easy as it was Petes birthday , my birthday & my mothers anniversary while I was away. We had a week to ourselves to get organised. The day before I travelled was horrible , we were all missing each other already. A courier delivered an irish rugby jersey signed by 28 out of 30 of the squad, my gift as a symbol of Ireland to the community & organised by a very good friend of ours. It was horrible leaving the girls, heartbreaking but Pete was driving me to Dublin airport . Saying goodbye at the airport was hard too, how do you say goodbye with a film camera stuck in your face. Absolutely everything got filmed throughout the whole process but I left Pete & on a flight too Addis Ababa in Ethiopia & then a connecting flight too Nairobi arriving at a hotel at lunch time Sunday where we met the Kenyan film crew & packed the jeeps ready for a long drive Monday morning too Maparasha. 4 hours south of Nairobi, travelling dirt tracks out into the wilderness & I arrived at the village, what an amazing welcome I received, yes I was nervous but settled quick as the people were so friendly. So here I was , a little tent, no electricity or water. It was hard to get used to the quiet at night time, everyone goes to sleep once darkness arrives & then no sooner was I asleep & the dogs would start barking as wild animals come closer to the village, dogs barking all night long , so tiring.
5am comes quickly & its up helping the women with daily chores, milking the cows & goats while also preparing tea for the men when they wake at 7.30 – 8 am , it was far from the cup of tea Pete brings me every morning in bed.
The first day I went out with the men grazing cows , the chief presented me with a Maasai knife as a form of protection from wild animals, 8 hours out walking cows in search of water & food in the seering heat. I was also the first woman to be presented with a Maasai knife. Day 2 & we headed for Bisil market with the chief, he accompanied me just to see how I would be received by the locals, I would be welcomed once he was with me. On day 3 I went working with the women, they were a little stand of ish as they were never allowed to go grazing cows etc, I suppose they saw me as a threat & wondered why I was being allowed to do work with the men, I had to break down a barrier here & connect with them, show them I was one of them & work hard. We walked for water, 5km each way with a 25litre container, the women told me I walked to fast so it was back to their pace. The following day I went cutting timber with the women to build my house. The women build all the houses & this is where we really bonded, such amazing team work, we had some great craic building the house.

Grandas birthday took place at the end of the first week, what an amazing man at 103 years of age. There was a huge party planned & a goat was slaughtered in his honour too add to the feast.

Week 2 saw me going hunting with the men & this was done to help protect their own livestock. An interesting day, the thing that struck me most was the speed of the men, they are faster than the dogs even.

By now I had really settled in & was a part of the community making an amazing bond with Moipei & all the women. Moipei is married to a man in another Boma & has 8 kids but doesn’t live there as her husband threw her out. Then the bombshell hit, she asked me would I accompany her too that Boma as she hadn’t seen her kids in quite a while, 90 minute journey further out into the wilderness & we arrived, what a difference, the men were more standoffish, the women & children looked very sad, clearly a different atmosphere in everyway. I met her husband, quite frankly I didn’t like him but respected him for her sake although I did speak my mind & eventually agreement was made that we would work towards reuniting her with her kids.

 

My final challenge was here, walking a cow & calf to Bisil market 36kms of a hike & Id be the first woman ever to sell at the market. It was an amazing hike through the night but lets be honest, I was going to find gaining respect at the market & it was also a somewhat volatile place for me to be at. But persevere I did & eventually sold the calf, the purchaser refused to shake my hand as I was a woman but I had succeeded & of back to the Boma proud as punch to show the women that it could be done, they gave me such an amazing welcome & then we began cooking through the night preparing for my leaving party.

 

Leaving was so tough, mixed emotions knowing Id miss my new friends but also ecstatic knowing myself & Pete would be reunited & Id see my girls again. I presented the chief with the rugby jersey, gave little treats to all the kids & it was tearful hugs & goodbyes. Yes I hadn’t showered in 2 & a half weeks, my hair felt like straw & Id imagine my odour would empty a bus load of people in 5 seconds flat but I did truly miss the Maasai lifestyle. 4 hours drive back to Nairobi & a step closer to being reunited with my family. Its  a subject Ill revisit in time to let you all know what it was like meeting Pete & the girls again, for now thanks for reading

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