Working With Lesikar

On October 23, 2010, in Travel, Work, by Meghan

Lesikar, the Maasai warrior (November, 1998)

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.)

18 Responses to “Working With Lesikar”

  1. JeffO says:

    There is NO WAY I can compete with eating boogers!

    • Meghan says:

      JeffO, you’re a pretty fascinating fella’, me thinks you have some good stories in that noggin of yours. Happy Sunday!

  2. Ewa says:

    Is there more? Is there more?

  3. Gretchen says:

    Geez you’ve done some coolio stuff. Why am I not surprised? I’ll have to look into that travel blogging thing – sounds like fun.
    Some days I think I need a Maasai warrior to keep me alive, but I suppose he wouldn’t like a private school in Reno.

    • Meghan says:

      Gretchen, I think a Masaai warrior could come in handy on a lot of days in this here Western life. Hope you’re well, darlin’ and see you in a few weeks time!

  4. i love this – the humanity that we can see in just a few minutes with someone. good luck!

  5. Anca Popa says:

    What an interesting character! Many thanks for entering our contest. Good luck!

  6. lara dunston says:

    Hilarious! OMG! What a story!

    You wouldn’t believe that we are heading to the Masai Mara tomorrow?!

    I shall be taking note of what our Masai warriors are eating.

    Thanks for entering our competition! Best of luck!

    • Meghan says:

      Lara, I’m looking forward to your posts about your Masai Mara safari. I love it out there, and I hope you are enjoying it as well! Thanks for the contest, it was great!

  7. Nicole says:

    Great story and so cool that you were able to spend a chunk of time with a Maasai warrior! Good luck in the competition!

    • Meghan says:

      Nicole, that was a great piece of life, for sure. What could not be captured in under 250 words were all the other experiences that went along with getting to know Lesikar. I got to meet some of his wives (The Maasai practice culturally-encouraged polygamy.), children, saw his home, and more. Thanks for your comment!

  8. Rubee says:

    Megan why are you claiming some else’s story as yours. This story is about Gemma an English woman who travels to Africa mets and marry a massi in 2003 and now they have two beautiful girls

    • Meghan says:

      Wonderful if a woman called Gemma–I’m not sure who she is, though?–has a similar story, but this one is all mine and all truth. ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a nice day.

  9. Iris Delgado says:

    What was the geology research you were doing in Tanzania??

    • Meghan says:

      I was interpreting the depositional environments of rock strata at a couple archaeological sites in the northern part of the country to help determine the environment in which early hominids species were living. It was quite interesting for a 20-something ‘kid’ and I was a small leg in a bigger operation. ๐Ÿ™‚

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