Everywhere we go the kids are treated kindly, especially by Tonnie, who always makes sure the activities are fun for them. At night he leaves them little souvenirs on their pillows: leather bookmarks, beaded bracelets, toy bows and arrows.
We're all itching for a game drive, but Désirée and I also really want our kids to see how the tribespeople live, and that's how we find ourselves at the Samburu manyatta near the Intrepids camp, where I try hoofing it like a warrior. After the opening ceremony, we're invited into one of the huts. Traditionally, Samburu men tend the cattle, and the women, literally, make the homes. No bigger than 15 feet in diameter, the huts are constructed of mud mixed with cow dung and water. The roofs are woven palm fronds; the beds are cross-tied ropes spread with animal hides. Men and boys sleep on one side, women and girls on the other; a hearth is in the center.
It is dark and smoky inside and smells of fire and animals. The kids are quiet and respectful, just taking it in. I am proud of them; they never once make faces because something looks different or has an unusual odor. More used to being the observers when we travel at home and in Europe, they are now the observed. They seem a little self-conscious at being fussed over by the Samburu, but after about 20 minutes, I see them relax. By custom, the tribeswomen keep their heads shaved, and they're intrigued by Brielle's hairstyle, playing with her braids as she grins.
Making and wearing elaborate jewelry is an important part of Samburu culture, and on the ground outside one hut there's a display of intricately hand-beaded necklaces and bracelets, as well as carved-wood elephants, and pouches made of goatskin and cowhide. No one pushes us to buy anything, but we spend quite a few Kenyan shillings; they're beautiful souvenirs, and you just want to give back to thank these people for their hospitality.
The next morning, we're on another small plane, this time heading south to the Masai Mara National Reserve. Our hosts at the Mara Intrepids camp warn us to zip up our tent and drape the doormat over the zipper to prevent vervet monkeys from rifling through our gear. Within minutes we see a monkey on a railing by our tent, and Paris grabs his camera. Out of nowhere, another appears, and as Paris clicks away, the two of them start mating.