Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tribe that gets high, hunts and gathers, and speaks using clicks

The weekend started off a bit rocky only because it was raining and wet and the roads ahead of us were dirt and impassable in the rain and also because we could not find any place that served food in the town we were passing through to get to the lake. Eventually we found a white woman who knew of the place that Sarah had been looking for. We ate a delicious breakfast and I used the western-style bathrooms. Unfortunately, I put tons of soap on my hands before checking to see if there was running water and of course there was no running water. The men had to get me a bucket and fill it with water from somewhere else so I could rinse the soap off…whoops! Luckily, there had been no rain at the start of the bad roads so we had no trouble getting there.
We stayed at a campsite alongside the lake. Lake Eyasi was beautiful but did not feel like a lake. I felt more like I was in a desert surrounded by mountains, I think this was because the color of the lake was darker and it from a distance it did not look like water. Nonetheless, it was gorgeous. We brought our own food and cooked with a mini gas stove and just hung out relaxing. Actually, I was relaxing until dark because as soon as it got dark massive amounts of bats began to come out. These bats came so low and so close to me that I could feel them flying by. Of course, I was the only one that was freaked out by this so I eventually began to get over it. When I was able to stop focusing on the low-flying bats I realized how beautiful the stars were. I saw my first shooting star!!! It was amazing!
We woke up super early the next morning when it was still dark out. I used my flashlight to find a place to go to the bathroom and we could see yellow pairs of eyes in the trees. It was the monkeys-their eyes glow like crazy in the light. We then found a local guide and set off on our way to see the Hadzabe tribe.
This tribe was unbelievable, and seemed unreal to me. This is one of the last true hunter-gatherer tribes left and they incorporate the clicking noises into their speech. Seeing them was fascinating for so many reasons:
Aside from their beads, shorts, and their one or two knives everything else that they own comes directly from nature. They hunt for their meals with hand-made bows and arrows; they took us to watch them go hunting (although at one point we were too slow and they went on without us) they ended up shooting down two birds. After their catch they sat down and quickly made a fire by hand and lit the fire by rubbing a stick against their knife. All of the men passed the cooked bird around and ate their share. Then one of the older men pulled out marijuana and started to roll a joint. They then passed that around the circle as well. After they were somewhat full and completely high they continued to shoot some arrows around (caught another bird) and then headed back to where the women and babies were.
After the men return from hunting the women go off to gather. We, of course, accompanied them. They used sticks and their hands to dig holes and search for a potato like plant. They, also, eat their share while they are still gathering and then bring the rest back for the men. On the way back they gather firewood.
They have little hut-type things made of sticks, grass, and rubbish that they sleep in. They only sleep inside of the huts when it is raining though because they prefer sleeping under the stars.
I have never seen a group of such satisfied people. They are completely self-sufficient and live off of the nature that is around them, even most of their clothes come from the animals that they hunt. If they ever wanted a lot of money (which they don’t really have much of a need for) they could go on the show Survivor and win without a doubt. Everyone seemed happy and completely content with his or her lifestyles (although that might have to do with the amount of marijuana that they smoke-the children also smoke). This was the first time that I have done a cultural tour type thing and did not feel that the people wanted something from me. This group of people just enjoyed showing us their way of life and seemed like they basically could care less if we were there are not which was great. We did not have to sit through welcome dances and boring ‘cultural’ activities. We basically just followed them around for a few hours and they did what they would’ve done without us there.
One of the people I was with, Chris, asked one of the boys that was probably about our age (and was stoned out of his mind) if he had any desire to go to a European country or America. Chris explained to him that he would fly there on an airplane and that on the airplane there are people that serve food for you and they give you a meal on the airplane and you can watch tv during the flight. The man was shocked and didn’t believe him. He asked if he would be aloud to take his bow and arrow with him and Chris said probably not. The man then said that he absolutely does not want to go anywhere, especially if he cannot take his bow and arrow. For him this weapon is his source of food and he doesn’t really know any other way, just like I don’t know how to get by without things like grocery stores and restaurants or at least markets where food can be purchased.
Most of these people did not know who their current president was and had no idea about any other places in their country or in the world. While I may know who my president is and about geography and history I would have no idea how to survive for more than two days in their village. They are so intelligent and the fact that they can get by on hunting and then gathering for seeds and vegetables is absolutely amazing to me. Being able to spend a few hours with these people was truly amazing and I was blown away by their survival skills and contentment.

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