Dala Dala(ing) it to the Snake Park!
Remember the buzz and anticipation of a school excursion, when just the thought of getting out school for a day or afternoon was as if you're going on some great escapade with your mates? No books, no pens, just a chance to have some fun and wear your Sunday-best?
It was one of those days for 39 very excited Kesho Leo Tuition Kids last Friday. All dressed up ready to go, they patiently gathered around in their little groups eagerly awaiting their 'ride' to discover the scary and dangerous reptiles that we can only ever hope to encounter when glass and window panes separate us. Our journey began with the Dala Dala's (commuter omnibuses) arriving and being swarmed by hustling kids grabbing the best seats near the windows. With this, so did the start of infectious cheering and chanting begin, making an hours-long journey a lot more colourful and surely putting a grin on anyone's face.
Karibu (welcome to) Meserani Snake Park Tour and Maasai Cultural Museum is exclaimed as we enter the precinct. Organised by Carmody Forbes, fws' Education Manager, this school excursion acted as a reward to the Kesho Leo Tuition Kids for their 100% class attendance, enthusiasm and dedication for the past term. The tour began with the welcoming of the park's expert snake guide, who chaperoned the group to each individual glass window that housed some of Africa's (and the world's) most deadly snakes including the Black Mamba, Egyptian Cobra and the Central African Rock Python, to name a few. With approximately 48 snakes on view, the group was in awe of the sheer size and length of these slithering creatures and clung to the windowpanes listening intently to the interesting facts about each species, but most of all eagerly awaiting any movement that these long-necked reptiles could make.
From there, it was discovered that the group had more gallant members than expected, and saw more than half of the Kesho Leo Tuition kids braving-up to hold a rear-fanged, Northern striped-bellied Sand Snake around their neck! This approximately 70cm, mildly venomous, non aggressive snake, slowly curled its slinky body around the kids necks and fingers evoking a lot of fear and anxious high-pitched laughs but still proving to be a source of great excitement (whether you held the snake or not). Other reptiles that were on display included the Moniter Lizards, plus 3m Crocodiles and baby crocs, and a few species of birds that have been orphaned or injured and would not survive if they where returned to the wild.
Following on from this, the group was taken on a personal guided tour at the Maasai Cultural Museum. Here they learnt about the Maasai people and their culture by walking through a large replica of a Massai home with life-like, clay mannequins enacting everyday life of elders, warriors (Morans), women and children, clothes and everyday objects arranged in replicas of Maasai huts and bomas (enclosures). Other important and interesting cultural facts and events were shared including information about traditional dancing, medicine, male and female circumcision and meat eating.
Did you know… Cattle plays a central role in the life of the Maasai. Cattle represents food and power; the more cattle a Maasai has, the richer he is and therefore the more power and influence he will have within his tribe.
Just adjacent to the Maasai Museum, a herd of camels can be found lounging about in the hot African sun awaiting their next camel rider-attemptee. This was a time for many of the kids to actually see and ride a camel for the first time and also a chance to get their personal photo taken with their new camel friend.
With that, just as fast as the afternoon excursion started so did it end'a great educational and exciting excursion and a great idea for any teacher looking to add a bit of spice to their classroom!