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  • Chris Swift

Diary update: Two Weeks and 250KM in.

Had another good night and becoming more expert at telling the time of night by the moon.

Friday was the simple one. The bright full moon rose in the east, so by midnight, it was overhead. So that was clearly midnight. I awoke about 3 when it was sliding down to the west and when we got up at 6, it was just setting in the west. Easy. Saturday evening it rose at 7, set at 7.

We then had two nights of the Mwezie moon, which rose at 8 then 9. These are the Masai cattle raiders' dream evenings when the moon rises a couple of hours after sunset.

The young Moran warriors stake out their victim's cattle boma as the sun goes down, and then in the complete darkness that follows, they cause a series of diversions before delicately extracting the cattle out through the thorn boma and move the herd slowly a small distance away in the pitch dark and confusion. As the moon comes out an hour or so later, they rattle their dags and take off through the bush, herding the stolen cattle 40 or 50Ks a night away towards their own kraal.

In the good old days, these raids could go as far west as the Kavirondo around Lake Victoria or down to the east and the Swahili tribes at the coast.

If a warrior was killed, he was taken home and given a burial with full military honours. If he died when the real fighting started as the Moran divided the spoils it was considered a shenzi low-life death and his body was cast out to the hyenas.

The modern-day approach to cattle rustling is on to a lorry 10ks away and into a Nairobi abattoir by early morning.

Last night, the slightly smaller moon rose at 10 pm so was overhead at 4 am. I had just ascertained that the moon was passed the vertical and sliding a bit west when the boys started to light the fires and saddle the noisy complaining camels. It was 5 am.

Today we have descended lower into the Rift but fortunately, it has been overcast so cooler and easier on the system all around.

It’s a great banter bus to be on with all the spectators adding to the ping-pong-wise crack remarks coming from the touchline. One cheeky rascal on a boda-boda motorbike said he could get me to a hospital if there were a problem. Goodness knows what I looked like, but I was using two sticks at the time, so he might have thought I was on my last legs.

I got some surprising medical advice from my weatherman pal further up the Rift at Rongai.

This morning I casually enquired if there was any update on the position of his dipole in the Indian Ocean. He rapidly replied, not with a weather report but with some medical advice about the camel dawa (medicine) I had been prescribed yesterday.

He said he had read somewhere that to get the full benefit from the dawa, it should all be drunk after soaking the feet.

I told him to stick to weather forecasting and have not heard back.

The best dawa for sore feet on a camel safari.
Camel Pee Medicine

We are now in another top-of-the-range campsite under some acacia trees on an escarpment looking south across the valley to the Loita hills. What a treat. Sundowners were taken on a rocky kopje above us.

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