A Village Visit in Matabos
Throughout our trip in Africa, I have (as well as the rest of the group I’m with) encountered scores of friendly people, especially children. I’ve loved sitting on the truck, driving through a town or past a village and having children wave, shout, smile or run alongside us. This is by far one of the best parts of Africa.
In Mto Wu Mbo, Tanzania children came running up to us during our village walk and if you ask anyone in our group, they are likely to tell you that the kids were the best part of the day.
When I woke up this morning, I was eager to climb into a safari jeep and go in search of Rhinos (my last of the Big 5), imagine my delight when I learned that we’d be visiting a village in Matabos.
Ian (the best guide on the planet) drove off the main road and onto a small bumpy dirt road.
“Where are we going?” Someone asked
“We’re going to a village, to visit some locals,” Ian said in a mild English accent. Ian is our guide for the next few days and seems to be a walking Wikipedia for all things nature, Zimbabwe, Africa, ecology and more. The man could sit down and read me the phone book and I’d be completely mesmerized by his voice. I could go on, but I’ll leave all things Ian for tomorrow’s post.
The village huts were short, round and made of mud or clay, with thatched grass roofs. There were only about 4 huts in the area where the village chief, Chief One Pound (Npondo in his native tongue), lives with his second wife, and grandchildren.
As I walked through the gate, I noticed 4 children on the far left washing dishes. They were shy but curious and their eyes were focused on the 19 strangers who had just walked into their yard. It was clear that the kids were not going to come to me, so I took the initiative and went to them instead, kneeling on the ground in front of them.
I offered my hand and within a few minutes the kids were smiling and giving me high fives. I took out my iPhone (which I’m relying on as a camera for now), turned on the camera and snapped a photo, showing the kids afterward. Like many children, they were thrilled and soon I was taking each of their photos and showing them. I was having the time of my life, and I could have stayed there for the entire day, but our visit was cut short when we were called into the Chief’s hut.
I crouched down as I entered the Chief’s hut and took a seat on the cool dirt floor.
Chief One Pound is a petite man, with grey hair. He wore a band with a small plume of black and white Ostrich feathers on his head, a necklace of long spiky Porcupine quills hung around his neck like a fan. Around his waist was the skin of a Leopard he killed in his 20’s (the chief is now 79).
I sat there and listened as Chief One Pound told us the story of how he killed the Leopard in his native tongue (Ian was our interpreter). I loved listening to him speak and his laugh was adorable. After Chief One Pound finished his story, he then spoke about his life in Matabos and how he was responsible for building many of the bridges and dams in the area. The chief was 12r3, kind and full of energy as he asked (through Ian) where everyone was from. As Ian called out a country, we would raise our hands and Chief One Pound would then come over and shake hands with us, greeting us with a smile and laughter.
Having the opportunity to speak with the chief and listen to his stories was fabulous. I loved every second of it.
I stood outside in the warm sun afterward and slowly looked around the village. I couldn’t see any of the children, but I could see women sitting below the trees, working. It felt peaceful until I heard the faint sound of singing. I looked towards the hut on my right and smiled as the children came from behind the hut, dancing, and singing. Some of the boys were dressed in animal skin loincloths, with bands around their heads and sticks in their hands. I sat on a rock, smiling and clapping as I watched them perform for us. After a few minutes of singing and dancing some of the boys ran towards our group and pulled a few of the girls from our group over to dance with them. It was absolutely fabulous.
This village walk/visit was completely different from the others. In Mto Wu Mbo and Kande Beach, the locals were expecting us as travelers always visit them. In Matabos, Ian rotates the villages so that a village only receives visitors once every few months -which means travelers receive a more authentic experience.
Thinking of traveling to Africa?
Traveling in Africa, solo, can be a scary thought -especially for solo female travelers. I’m not saying it can’t be done, it can. What I am saying is that there is nothing wrong with joining a group tour.
For 45 days I traveled from Kenya (Nairobi) to Cape Town with Intrepid Travel. This was my very first group travel experience. At first I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into, but as time progressed, I began to relax and fall in love with this type of travel. In fact, I would definitely travel with Intrepid again.