This is an update that is long overdue, when it transpired I was living in a tree fort outside Pangani, Tanzania and only had access to my iphone. As a result said I’d write it later and the time has come. This is the story about how I joined a village search party to look for a missing hunter who had not returned home from the hunt…
Mr. B asked if I wanted to help him look for a lost hunter, it was work as usual at the retreat that was being built where I was staying and I’m always open to distractions. Mr. B was a large straight-edge Masai friend of mine who loved to party and was very reliable. As a genuine gentleman with access to all the vehicles, be became a fixture in community affairs.
We drove through the towns in an old truck used for safari that was probably bought from the military. It had no shocks, no frills but was rugged to the core. It had a cab that fit two people above what seemed like 5″ tires and a huge open flatbed used to hold anything and in this case, a village of people. Villagers piled up along the road as we drove to our destination.
The roads aren’t so good and upkeep is not even a consideration to give you an idea. There was a massive tree that was hit in a lightning storm that blocked the road and this truck swerved around in the mid day heat while people held and paid good attention not to get injured in the mix. Safety is not what it is here and whenever you’re holding on outside a truck or something of the sorts, concentration is a must.
Arrive at the spot and it appeared 50-75 gents had gathered. Realized my flip flops were a horrendous decision and found a filthy and certainly soiled t-shirt to wrap around my face in a quasi arab / ninja like attire to beat the heat and block the sun. After some short discussion, the longest walk of my life began.
We walked for what actually was hours through these open plains, a huge army of us scattered out in search of any signs. The hunter was old and two days had passed since his planned return, people were open to all possibilities. Walked through plantations and a small gent no more than 5″ or so had a mange dog with him. The dog found a rabbit and he tied it on a stick slung it over his shoulder and we continued.
Eventually we stopped for a smoke break, nobody really had any water on them and I most certainly didn’t. The smoke was a bad idea as a pasty mouth in the mid day African dry heat isn’t so pleasant. Wasn’t sure what to make of things at this point but we moved on and split into two groups. Went with a group of younger gents and we made our way towards a small Masai settlement.
The Masai gents gave us water from a small well and let us know that they had seen nobody in the last few days. Most of these gents have huge herds of cattle, it was quite cool rolling up into one of these settlements with other local people where you the foreigner are the exception and not the rule. After exchanging farewells we made our way into what seemed like a barren sea.
Turns out the tide rises there and is dry but with patches that will rip your flip flops off. We walked through this dry sea of sorts until finally reaching the semblance of a path and found ourselves at a school where we got more water. The search continued after the short break until we found ourselves on the ocean and everyone just sunk into the sand and stared at the sea for some time.
The beach was an hour from the truck and we made our way back slowly under what was now a sizzling sun. At the truck there was a reception of sorts with people smoking and drinking lots of coconut rum. Was the only foreigner present and seems like everyone wanted me to drink some coconut rum. I am sure you can’t imagine the headache after a delirious day in a dehydration station of sorts followed by this ridiculous reception.
The next day the search parties went out again but I stayed behind, they found the hunter dead next to an equally dead wild bore. Look like he shot the bore but missed the heart and said bore gored him to death. I saw the photos of the remains but naturally, won’t share them.
What I found cool was how many people came looking for this gent. Almost didn’t matter if you even knew who it was, someone was missing and everyone was concerned. I know what would happen in many developing countries if you yelled “thief” while getting robbed. I’m curious what would happen in many more developed nations and what that means!?
P.S: The photo above was “downtown” aka 15 min from the tree fort.