A very different day as we ran mostly on road after leaving the Snow Cap camp. Lots of sun, burnt legs, wide open view and amazing, amazing interactions with people all day long. We are on the Kenyan border, and the Chagga people (Simon's people) and the Masai start to blend here. The villages are built with the houses closer together (like on "main street") the dress is much fancier, with bright clothing draped - more like sheets of fabric wrapped and the older the people the more jewelry they wore. The ear piercings were incredible with lobes stretched like you wouldn't believe. I also noticed burn marks, or perhaps cutting for facial scarring. I can only imagine the stories that go with that.
Camp came earlier than expected and we found our tents down in the school yard of Kitendeni. Not long after we arrived the nearly 200 students filed out of school and into formation under the Tanzanian flag post. Three of the older boys carried their heavily used drums to the center of their circle formation and began the beat that led the rest of the children into song. Their matching sweaters resembled a school uniform, no matter the condition they were in, and I guessed that their ages ranged from 4 to 12. Thanks to our driver Willy and his translation I was able to understand a few of the words to their two songs. One was their national anthem and one was about their flag. They did not confront us or even glance our way during their performance and only a few of the little ones snuck a peak over their shoulder as they marched back into class. We were still sweaty and dirty from our hot, dusty, dry run, but their their voices singing in Swahili captured all of hearts and made us take pause before heading to our tents to clean up and rest. The moment was incredibly endearing and made for a wonderful start to our third evening in camp.
Another favorite moment happened early in the day. We were running along the tar and about ten girls in purple sweaters were suddenly running alongside me. Our group was stretched out along the road with Simon, Iddy, Steve and I out front. One moment it was me and the guys and another we were being followed by ten school girls. We took photos & videos and just as our group was pulling away I ran back at the girls in a playful gesture of chase. They first ran away looking over their shoulders wondering what I was doing. As soon as I turned around to run away and looked back at them they got the point and gave chase. We did this a couple of times with both of us laughing. I then gave Steve a hi-five and went to them to do the same. Again they looked at me wide-eyed, but as soon as the first gave me a hi-five the rest were gathering around to do the same. We waved goodbye and wished the group of giggling girls bidai, certain that they thought I was a crazy white girl.
That evening I helped out in the kitchen learning more of Kiplet's secrets to backcountry cooking. Dinner consisted of pea soup, beef stew, rice, bread, cauliflower & carrots with tons of garlic. I basically acted as a helper chef cutting up veggies and fruit (for the fruit salad dessert). It is a fun part of the evening to hang out among the crew listening to them banter in Swahili, picking up a few words here & there and asking them to share more stories with me.
After dinner we rallied around Andrew's fancy camera and played with long exposures and lighting. Kate wrote her name. I attempted my runner girl. We then lit a tent and I wrote SENE. They all turned out pretty cool and it was a fun way to stay up a little later than 7:30pm.
Day's stats: 8:42am start, about 31k, run time 4:48, 1266ft gain, 2405ft loss, high point 6752ft, low point 5302