He just picked his nose and ate a successfully-mined booger. A bit ago, when I offered him some of my lunch, he consumed it all. Any minute now, he’ll lapse into unconsciousness under an Acacia tree. Meet Lesikar, the Maasai warrior tasked with keeping me alive on the Serengeti Plain.
The year is 1998, and I’m researching geology in northern Tanzania. The university that temporarily employs me is concerned that I might not survive my independent fieldwork in this wilderness, replete with venomous snakes and predatory cats. We invent a solution: I hire a local bodyguard.
The actuality of this plan, however, is comical. I doubt not Lesikar’s ability to exact fierce defense of me. He wears more weaponry than clothing, and he sports a nasty scar on his arm from a successful (for him) battle with a lion. I only worry of a delayed response time from his shady nap spot. When he’s asleep, I try not to think about spitting cobras or pouncing leopards.
For six weeks, we work, he in tire-tread shoes and me in boots. We effect conversation via a mix of languages, hand gestures, and dirt drawings. He brings no food for our ten hours together each day nor has he before seen a sandwich, so I share without remorse. And, when he stuffs a finger up his nostril and I catch him in the act, we both crack toothy grins born of an improbable friendship.
(This post has been entered into the Grantourismo HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition for the month of October. You can enter, too! Follow the links for submission guidelines, and do so by October 31st.)