Posts Tagged ‘authentic’

Photo Essay: A Visit to a Maasai Village in the Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania

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Portrait of a young Maasai in Tanzania

Taking great pictures of safari animals during the Great Migration was my photographic goal for my recent trip to Tanzania. Yet some of my favorite images are from a cultural visit to the Maasai (also known as Masai) village of Ndemwa, located in the Ngorogoro Crater Conservation Area.

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Maasai greeting in the Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania

The Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti offers a day trip to the Ngorogoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s largest unflooded calderas. Several Maasai tribes call the Ngorogoro Crater home, with small villages dotting the harshly beautiful landscape.

Welcome Dance at the Ndemwa Masai Village in the Ngorogoro Crater

Traditionally, the Maasai are herders. They live off of the meat, blood, and milk of their livestock. They herd goats, cows and sheep. It’s a difficult life and becoming tougher in modern times. Many Maasai now leave traditional village life to take jobs as safari trackers or security guards. These skills come naturally to men who were raised guarding their herds from predators like lions.

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Awash in color, the Maasai are hard to miss 

Like Native People in so many other countries, there are geopolitical issues at play and some want the tribes relocated. For those who stay and continue on the traditional way, additional funds are needed to buy water and supplies for the village.

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Maasai jewelry hanging in a traditional dung hut

In addition to allowing tourists to visit their villages for a fee, the Maasai also sell beaded jewelry they make.

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The Entry to the Maasai Village

The traditional Maasai live in dung huts built by the women tribe members. The huts are rebuilt every two to three years.

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Portrait of a Maasai woman surrounded by jewelry

The Maasai also practice polygamy. Traditionally a man’s first wife is found by his parents from another village, since most of the villagers are related by blood.

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Male Maasai photographed inside a dung hut

After his first wife is chosen for him, a male Maasai is free to choose his own additional wives. Each wife lives in a separate dung hut with her children and the male splits his time between each. If he can support several wives, a Maasai man can start his own village. How does TLC not have a Sister Wives: Maasai spinoff yet?

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The colorful and chaotic Maasai greeting

Maasai are also resourceful. Their footwear is made from old motorcycle tires. The ultimate in upcycling style!

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Maasai footwear made from repurposed tires

I met several Maasai during my trip to Tanzania who did not stay in the village. Maasai work as camp and hotel guards, as well as safari trackers.

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Brightly dressed Maasai in the Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania

Some visitors to Tanzania dislike the touristic angle of Maasai village visits. Common complaints are about shakedowns for cash or overcharging for jewelry. I did not have a problem it. I understand the business angle and it’s easy to see how the traditional village way of life would require more cash flow to survive in the modern world.

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Adumu: the Maasai jumping ritual

The Maasai have a jumping ritual known as adumu, which is fascinating to watch. Both the men and women can catch some serious air!

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Maasai school in the Ngorogoro Crater

I also enjoyed visiting the school to see the one room where the village children are taught before they are old enough to herd.

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Portrait of a Maasai woman and child

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Male Maasai jumping during the Adumu jumping ritual

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Young Maasai herding goats and cattle in the Ngorogoro Crater Conservation Area

I felt it was an honor to get a brief glimpse into traditional Maasai life and very much enjoyed my visit.

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Trattoria Sostanza: Where The Locals Eat in Florence, Italy

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The unassuming exterior of Trattoria Sostanza in Florence

One of the most memorable meals I had on my most recent trip to Florence was chicken. Chicken is hardly ever memorable, but the Butter Chicken at Trattoria Sostanza is exceptional. If you don’t believe me, just read Rob Lowe’s endorsement of it on the photo on the wall.

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Butter chicken sizzling in the kitchen at Trattoria Sostanza

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More butter, this time on the homemade tortellini

My friend, Charlie, discovered Tratttoria Sostanza asked he asked someone what they would pick for their last meal and was told, “I’d go to Trattoria Sostanza in Florence and get the veal chop.” So Charlie went to Trattoria Sostanza and ordered the veal chop and some other of the house specialties, including the homemade tortellini and the Butter Chicken (petti di pollo al burro).

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Trattoria Sostanza’s perfectly browned butter chicken at the table

“How do you tell someone that their pick for their last meal is wrong? The veal chop was delicious but, dude, the Butter Chicken is so much more memorable,” Charlie told me before taking me to dinner at the so-charmless-it’s-charming trattoria favored by locals.

The chicken arrived at the table still sizzling

I love a good hole in the wall and Trattoria Sostanza fits the bill, with walls plastered with white subway tiles and decorated with random photos (Neil Patrick Harris, Machu Picchu, Rob Lowe). Trattoria Sostanza isn’t about atmosphere, it’s all about the food. That’s why it’s packed. It’s totally Italian and slightly loud. And they have perhaps the best chicken in all of Italy, if not the world.

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Rob Lowe speaks the truth: Best Chicken in Italy

I have no idea what era Rob Lowe this headshot is from. West Wing, maybe? The guy is Hollywood’s Dorian Gray. This also makes me wonder if celebrities travel with a bunch of headshots on them?

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Random photo of Machu Picchu added to the charm of this restaurant

Foodies visiting Florence will adore Trattoria Sostanza’s authentic charm and delicious food. It’s not the place for you if you insist on a fabulous view. But if you go you absolutely must try the Butter Chicken… even if your preference is for the veal chop. Meals are served family style so it’s easy to try a few different things.

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The unassuming door of Trattoria Sostanza

Trattoria Sostanza

Via del Porcellana, 25/R

50123 Firenze, Italy

Tel: +39 055 212691

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