Not too much to report for this weekend. It was largely intended to give the students some time to relax, acclimatise and prepare themselves for what would be a week of hard slog in hot and sometimes frustrating circumstances but with a lot of satisfaction, discovery and joy.
The plan for today was to visit the Thimlich Ohinga Archaeological site – a UNESCO World Heritage site of a dry-stone walled settlement built in the early 16th Century. In all the years I’ve been coming to Rongo, I have never visited this site, so I was very excited. Located around 46Km from Migori Town, this site provides insights into the history and culture of the Luo peoples. We set off with a packed lunch in hand and drove for around and hour to an hour and a half, largely off road, to reach the site. We picnicked under the shade of some trees. As we were eating, we saw a dog skirting us. As a mad crazy dog lover, I went over and started sharing food with him. Slowly but surely his trust began to grow (many Kenyans, especially in rural areas, have a totally different relationship with dogs to us – I can’t help but think they are missing out) and he started to edge towards us. One or two students started to feed him with bits of food till eventually, he was lying happily amongst us. Anya named him Lentil – perhaps in honour of his colouring but probably in honour of the lentil and veg samosas in our packed lunches. Whatever the reason, it seemed appropriate. Mind you, Lentil’s owner and tour guide – seemed totally bemused when I told him his dogs new name – as they don’t name them.
The tour started with an introductory walk around a mock-up village used to explain the social structure and familial hierarchy and customs of the time. We then set off for a really interesting inspection of the protective stone wall and the village ruins within. Libby sat this out under a tree as she was feeling a little ropey. The nap seemed to do her the world of good because she was much improved on our return. The village tour was fascinating and I was in my element as I love this stuff. The setting in the woods just added to the enjoyment – mind you those trees would not have been there in those days as the guards placed strategically along the wall needed to be able to see advancing enemies in order to prepare for battle and defend themselves.
Leaving the site, we were taken on a rather long ‘short-cut’ and after about 46 minutes we found we were just entering Migori Town. We stopped stocked up on some provisions, which for some included Kenyan cream buns, and then headed ‘home’ but not before another delicious meal on campus.
Sunday morning began by being awoken by what I can only describe as religious caterwauling (I mean no disrespect to their beliefs but it is bad – as I type this a week later over breakfast waiting to leave for safari, I am listening to it all over again and it is still bad). The morning was one of relaxation and chilling, with a visit to Homa Bay and Lake Simbi beyond that to see the flamingos and hear the myth of the lake. As I had a lecture to prepare for the next day, I left the students in the care of Prof Jerry and the driver. You can read the account of the visit from the students. On their return we had dinner on campus and returned for a quick drink and bed.