115. Maasai Beadwork

When one thinks of Maasai decorative beading, it’s probably safe to assume that colorful jewelry is the first thing that comes to mind.
Alas, jewelry is not my thing.
I’m more inclined to find a souvenir or two where the famous Maasai beading is meant to decorate an item rather than decorate me. Here are examples of just such decorated items.

Source: Etsy, The Maasai Shop

Although chokers and string bead necklaces are common in Kenya markets, the truly classic Maasai necklace is the very elaborate wedding necklace.

The beautiful wedding necklace shown here is offered at The Maasai Shop on Etsy as of the date of this posting.

Source: Witherells, Great Finds, Exceptional Deals

A beaded necklace, even a more conservative one, is nothing I’d ever wear. But there is no denying, it’s a work of art.
The moment I saw this framed necklace, I reconsidered my souvenir list. Maybe I’ll be tempted when I visit the open markets in Nairobi.

114. The Meaning of Maasai Colors

Source: interesting-africa-facts.com

The Maasai people have been using beadwork to tell the story of their collective history and culture as well as their individual social positions in their day lives. The wearer might use it to represent wealth, beauty, strength, warriorhood, marital status, children-born and/or social status.
Beaded jewelry is used as everyday adornment on both men and women.

The jewelry pieces are made up of the traditional Maasai colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, white and black. Each color is symbolic of important cultural elements.

Colorful African beads used as decoration by the Masai tribe in Kenya

Blue represents the sky and the nourishing waters of the sea, lakes and rivers.
White represents purity and peace.
Black represents the people and the hardships they must endure.
Orange represents warmth, generosity, and frendship, as it is the color of the gourds in which milk is offered to guests.
Green represents the land, production and health.
Red represent bravery, unity and the blood lost in pursuit of freedom.
Yellow also represents sun, fertility, growth and hospitality because it is the color of the animal skins on guests’ beds.

107. Shukas

For years, shukas has been a part of the ancient tradition of the Maasai people.

Traditional Maasai blankets are made from soft cotton (shuka) or wool. It’s known to be durable, strong, and thick — protecting the Maasai from the harsh weather and terrain of the savannah.
While red is the most common color, the Maasai also use blue, striped, and checkered cloth to wrap around their bodies.

A shuka (or two) has found its way onto my Souvenir List, as it has a number of possible uses after I return home. Besides using it as a blanket, it can serve as a tablecloth, a scarf or a throw pillowcase.

93. The No. 1 Souvenir

Souvenirs aren’t really my thing. They used to be, but I simply have too much junk nowadays. Can’t imagine adding to it.
When I do buy, I’m careful to only buy items that I’m absolutely, positively sure I’ll use when the trip is over.

Except . . . there is this one item I’ll never use when I return home, and it is Number 1 on my Souvenir List.

I hope to purchase the wooden walking stick I’ll be using on my trek to see the gorillas.

Nothing fancy. Just an ordinary stick.

I imagine I’ll have to finagle a way to get it on the plane home. Once there, I’ll hang it on my wall and let the memories flash before me whenever I look upon it.

86. Maasai Watchband

Apple Watchband Fanatics switch their watchbands when given even the slightest excuse to do so.
An African safari certainly seems justification enough to make the old switch-aroo.

When I spotted this beaded band on Etsy,
I knew it would be a great accessory for my trip.

It arrived a couple of weeks ago, and as much as I like it, I find the wide leather backing and all those beads get mighty weighty by the end of the day.
Fun? Yes. Practical in the African heat? I think not.
It will be nice as an accent piece, worn now and then to complement the day’s outfit, but it won’t be joining me on the flight to Nairobi.*

Still, there’s reason to take heart.

I’ve found 3 silicone replacements.

*I’m old. Old people lean toward elastic waistbands and sensible shoes, as well as light-weight watchbands.

purchased in preparation for the Kenya/Uganda trip
(some I may use again, some probably not)

utility work gloves
nylon gaiters
Money Belt
Humangear GoTubbs
hiking boots
water shoes
wide brimmed hat
knit beanie with light
African-patterned watchbands

77. Head Coverings

I purchased this hat at a local marketplace about a year ago, right after I first started making plans to visit Africa. The hat can be smashed into a suitcase, and when retrieved, springs back to life again, as good as new.

It provides protection from the hot equatorial sun. The chin strap will keep it from blowing away if the breezes get too strong during an open air safari ride.

Basically, it’s a gardener’s sun hat. I’ve name it Kivuli.

Kenya and Uganda might straddle the equator, but it can get very chilly indeed. I’ve been told the nights can cool down, even if the temperatures are high during the day. I ordered this knit beanie to protect against the lower temperatures while I sleep. The beanie has a rechargeable LED light. No stumbling over things if I should need to get up in the middle of the night.

And finally, there’s this thing – called a BUFF®.

It’s a seamless, light-weight (1.2 ounces), ultra stretchable tube, recommended by The Skin Cancer Foundation. Buffs contain 100% recycled microfibers which are made from two plastic water bottles that have been removed from oceans and landfills.

It can be worn as a neck wrap or a skull cap to keep in the warmth, a face mask to keep out the dust or a headband to manage a bad hair day.

It will be interesting to see if I ever really use it.

purchased in preparation for the Kenya/Uganda trip
(some I may use again, some probably not)

utility work gloves
nylon gaiters
Money Belt
Humangear GoTubbs
hiking boots
water shoes
wide brimmed hat
knit beanie with light

60. Keep ’em On My Toes

Gorilla Trekking Boots

Last month, before REI closed its retail stores due to the Coronavirus, I visited its shoe department and tried on a number of hiking boots. It took 8 different brands before I found a comfortable boot, but the cost stopped me from taking a pair home.

This month, online sales cut the cost in half. Still, it’s a pricey purchase considering I may never use them. (Kenya has closed its borders.) The boots arrived a few days ago. Thinking that I ought to break them in, I’ve been wearing the boots around the house. They’re very comfortable, so the breaking in stage doesn’t really seem necessary.

After a Long Day on the Savanna

Linda and I plan to make use of the swimming pools at a couple of camps while on safari.
I’m not a flip-flop fan, but I’ll be wanting some sort of footwear as I walk from tent to pool and back.
Water shoes seem like a good choice.

They’re soft, light weight, pull on easily and fold into a flat, small bundle. I question whether they’ll last more than a season, but for my purposes, that’s not a worry.

After soaking them in the sink, I hung them to dry in the shower. Next morning they were dry inside and out.

A Safari Necessity

Yes, these are a must. AfriSocks!

purchased in preparation for the Kenya/Uganda trip
(some I may use again, some probably not)

utility work gloves
nylon gaiters
Money Belt
Humangear GoTubbs
hiking boots
water shoes

53. Pop Open Bottles

A couple of years ago, I used two Humangear products to store items while traveling.

One of the smaller GoTubbs® was filled with liquid concealer (Gotta hide those dark bags!) and a second one with a pair of stud earrings. A larger GoTubb® was used for medication.
The fact that they can be opened with just one hand meant little to me at the time of purchase, but that feature has come in handy dozens of times. With a single-handed squeeze, they pop right open.

Today I ordered these Humangear GoToobs® with locking cap. They can sit on a flat surface or hang on a hook in the shower. And they’re leakproof (which I intend to test before I place them in my luggage) and TSA-approved (3.4 oz/100 ml).

Both GoToobs® and GoTubbs® are BPA-Free and PC-Free.

purchased in preparation for the Kenya/Uganda trip
(some I may use again, some probably not)

utility work gloves
nylon gaiters
Money Belt
Humangear GoTubbs

51. Mood Music

Image Source: Uganda Traditional Music and Dance, Kids Canada

Since a great soundtrack can help set the mood on a trip, I went in search of African/Kenya/Uganda music and dance sounds.
I found a large number of music videos from which to choose. Some I liked, some not so much.
Although this genre isn’t something I normally listen to, I discovered many pieces to add to my African Safari Playlist. Here’s a sampling.

Source African Skies, xXEpicMusicWorldXx, YouTube (Time: 4:17)

Source: Miriam Makeba Official Channel, YouTube (Time: 3:31)

Miriam Makeba (1932-2008), nicknamed Mama Africa, was a South African singer, songwriter, actress, United Nations goodwill ambassador, and civil rights activist.

Miriam Makeba performing in Italy, the night before she passed away

In 1965, she testified about apartheid before the United Nations. South Africa revoked her citizenship and she became a political exile until 1990. Makeba performed with artists such as The Cuban Brothers, The Skylarks, Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, Nina Simone and Dizzy Gillespie.

Her music is available on this website.

Listen to how Cee-Roo blends the common everyday sounds of Kenya in with its music and song.

Source: Feel the Sounds of Kenya, Cee-Roo, YouTube (Time: 3:00)

Here’s a song from Uganda, “The Pearl of Africa.” It’s a tribute to mothers.
A loose translation is given at the bottom of this post, but the sound is enough to make you want to move.

Source: Banyabo REMA New Ugandan Music, RemaNamkula, YourTube (Time: 3:59)

I know. I know.
But I like it.
And, after all, it’s my playlist.

Source: The Lion King – “Circle of Life” from AFRICANIZED, Alex Boye, YouTube (Time: 5:55)

One hundred percent of the download proceeds from the album AFRICANIZED go to Koins for Kenya.
Since 2003 Koins for Kenya has provided ways for Americans to actively engage with rural Kenyans to provide countless educational opportunities. Rural Africans are given a chance to overcome the abject poverty that has held them hostage for generations.


She wakes up to feed the hens, she gest up so early, mama
She works and gets so tired.
She has to look after the young ones (the young ones).
School fees for studying and the books.
sometimes they don’t have.
Even finding something to eat is a battle.
She’s the one who struggles, the one who comes up with
where to sleep and what to eat.

A woman
They hold it in, they persever, they’re oppressed.
Eeeh, they work hard.

Independent woman
African woman.

Aahhhh, a woman.

If it wasn’t for a woman … I wouldn’t have been educated
I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t have learned a thing if it weren’t for mama
I wouldn’t have grown up.
If it wasn’t for a woman … I wouldn’t have been educated.
I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t have learned a thing if it weren’t for mama.
I wouldn’t have grown up.

While pregnant she imagines the long distance to the hospital.
She does’t even have enough money for transport.
She decides to walk the distance.
Sometimes she delivers on the road
Without anyone to help her out . . . she perseveres.

They persevere, they put up with a lot … the women.
The journey of bringing up a child is a long one.

A lady
They persevere … women. They’re determined.
Ooooh, they work.

It’s the woman, (if it wasn’t, if it wasn’t) ooooh if it wasn’t,
if it wasn’t for mama, weeeheee
I wouldn’t have been educated, eeew eh (I wouldn’t have learned.)
If it wasn’t for mama
I wouldn’t have grown up, I wouldn’t have.
If it wasn’t for a woman … I wouldn’t have been educated.
I wouldn’t , I wouldn’t have learned a thing if it weren’t for mama
I wouldn’t have grown up.

She sells cassava alongside the road … so that we can get school fees.
Sometimes she comes home without having got anything, poor woman.

She does everything that’s required at home.
The clothing expenses in addition to the hospital bills (Aaaah) mama works so so hard.
She’s so hardworking and mankind
She’s a woman of integrity, a mother (poor woman)
A Woman, my mama (eeew)

You’re my star

If it wasn’t for a woman, I wouldn’t have been educated …

38. Speaking of Money . . .

Although I don’t plan on purchasing much while in Kenya, I’m hoping we’ll have time to walk through the markets in Nairobi.
If we do, I’ll have a currency converter at the ready.
I’ll still keep track of the current conversion rate, as I’ve been known to accidentally press the wrong keys.

The free app I use (GlobeConvert) converts all sorts of things: currency, speed, length, temperature, time, cooking, radiation dose (yikes!), volume, weight, electric current, and more.

My advice to myself while purchasing an item: Slow down – and check it twice.

At the time of this writing,

1 Kenya Shilling = 0.0099 U.S. Dollars.
100 Kenya Shillings = .99¢

To do a mental calculation: Note the price in KSh. Then move the decimal point to the left two spaces. That’s approximately the cost in U.S. Dollars.

37. A Wearable Safe

I’m getting more forgetful as I grow older, and a lot more paranoid too – which is why I just purchased the travel item below.

Normally, I carry very little cash while on a trip. But circumstances are different this time, so I’ll be using an age-old safeguard: The Money Belt.

Here’s the situation. We’ll be using the services of a number of different people along the way: drivers, trackers, guides, spotters, porters, waiters, housekeeping staff and more. That means I’m going to need more small bills than I normally carry.
Since I’m not sure how easy it will be to get to an ATM in the middle of camp, I’ve decided to withdraw a greater amount of cash than I usually do.

Rather than leaving it all under the mattress while I’m out on safari, or in the safe and forgetting to retrieve it before I leave, I’ll wear my cash on me. The money belt is where I’m putting my passport and other essential documents as well.

It will be UNDER MY CLOTHES. I’m always a little taken aback when I see someone wearing a money belt outside her top. Seems like that reduces the security factor big time.

purchased in preparation for the Kenya/Uganda trip
(some I may use again, some probably not)

utility work gloves
nylon gaiters
Money Belt

16. Gaiters and Gloves

I’ve been told the items below are necessary for a comfortable gorilla trekking experience:
1. a pair of gaiters to keep little critters from crawling up your pant leg,
2. a pair of heavy duty gloves to eliminate cuts from thorny branches you might have to push out of your way.

These weren’t things I just happened to have in my dresser’s bottom drawer. They’re recent purchases.

I’m attempting to buy “speciality items” slowly, over the next six months in order to spread out the cost. Aside from a pair of hiking boots, most things are rather inexpensive, but when added all together – yee gads! So I’m acquiring the stuff a little at a time.

Update: This was my first attempt at composing and publishing a post from my cell. I had two goals. One was to enter text. The second was to post an image taken with my phone.
As it turned out, I had to use the computer to clean quite a bit of this up. I’m left with lots of questions.