24 July 2024

December 16, 2019 in Tanzania ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

Staying at an interesting place called Snake Farm. It is near Arusha in Tanzania. A very interesting woman called Ma by all, and from South Africa, owns it and has been here since 1982, I think. It is now a stopping point on the Africa Overland route for several operators.

But it is much more than that. She also runs a clinic for snake bite victims at the same site. There are a lot of venomous snakes here in Africa and local people working in the fields are frequently bitten. The consequences, as you would guess, are frequently fatal, unless treated with anti-venom. Ma set this clinic up to provide this help. People are treated, even if they can’t pay.

There is also a snake farm where different types of snakes are displayed in cases. Entrance is free but a donation is optional. I went from a sense of obligation, wanting to support Ma in her work but not really expecting much. I was wrong. I enjoyed the visit immensely, mainly due to the very knowledgeable guy who showed us around.

We also saw many other types of animals such as birds of prey, monitor lizards, crocodiles and enormous tortoises.

These were many types of snakes and, although I like snakes, most were very scary up close. Especially the black mamba whose bite kills with 15mins. There is no anti-venom and the death is particularly unpleasant. So, something to avoid.

Another way Ma demonstrates her love of the local Maasai peoples and culture is by providing a Maasai museum of culture. It is well done and has representation, both carved models and life sized models of homes etc. The museum building itself is built using traditional Maasai building techniques and is quite dark, as a Maasai hut would be.

There was a Maasai warrior who showed us around and he was a real Maasai warrior who had been initiated as a man. He spoke of the Maasai tradition of male circumcision where the whole foreskin is removed from 13 year old boys, not just the tip, as in other cultures. It was the most painful thing he ever experienced and still remembers the pain now, many years later. He said that boys could not make a sound when their complete foreskin was being removed with a knife and without any pain relief or medical intervention. If boys did cry, they would never be seen as men, even if they were adults. Boys were allowed to cry from the resulting infection. Women had a similar complete female genital mutilation but this was now outlawed and no longer happened.

There was also a women’s market consisting of several traditional Maasai hits selling local handicrafts. I spotted a mask I would like to buy but had no cash on me. Maybe when I return in a few days.

We had lunch and the guys who were organising our Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater trip arrived to transport us to our next campsite in the Serengeti.

As I was getting out of the truck with my bag, I unbalanced with the heavy bag and fell. Unfortunately, I didn’t fall onto grass, I fell onto sharp volcanic gravel and small rocks and cut my leg deeply in several places. Luckily, we have a retired GP on board and he advised me what to do. I generally heal quickly but healing in Africa takes much longer apparently so I hope I don’t get an infection. Fingers crossed. Of course, I told everybody that a lion attacked me but that I caught it by the tail, swung it around and let go. One of it’s claws grazed me as it whizzed away. Totally believeable!

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