In July David Marek visited Mara Plains Camp in Kenya and his guide Daniel shared a few stories from his life. The following are Daniel’s stories, as told by David and Daniel.
On our recent trip to Kenya we stayed at Mara Plains and Mara Toto camps. Our guide for the 6 days was Daniel, a local Maasai of about 30 years old, who told me many stories. I asked him if he was married and he said, “Not yet, but I have a girlfriend.” In his culture it is the parents who decide who the children marry so Daniel was very nervous about this as he was already very friendly and interested in one particular girl in the village. On the day that his father was to tell Daniel the name of his bride, Daniel was just sick thinking about how he would tell his father that he already had a girlfriend. Fortunately when his father said the name of the girl, it was the girl that Daniel already loved so there was a huge relief.
Daniel also told me about how he got into guiding. The following is his story, in his words.
“After high school my parents were not able to send me to university so I joined Ol Seki Mara Camp, which is now located in Naiboisho Conservancy on the southern part of the Mara. At the time, they were building the camp and I helped them collect building materials. After construction was completed, they offered me a job, training as a waiter for three months.
It was a beautiful morning during those three months when a family from the United Kingdom were having breakfast at the camp. The father is a serious birder and he asked me if I knew birds. A bird called a Go-Away-Bird was flying across the dining area and I told him the name of the bird. He was impressed with me. Birding has been my subject since.
In our culture before your initiation ceremony, you have a probation period of three months that you use to kill colorful birds to be skinned and used in a headdress for the ceremony. I refused to do that and instead made a headdress of plain birds feathers that I found. I’ve always been interested in birds.
When the family from the United Kingdom left the camp, the father asked to send me to school but the camp owner said she would do it herself. There is a school called Koyiaki Guiding School in the Mara, which was started by Ron Beaton. The camp owner paid $2,500 to send me to that school for a year. I then had a six month internship at some different camps and lodges. I came back to work for her for a period of four years. During that time she developed breast cancer and sold the camp. Chris and Rachel Davis were the relief managers at Ol Seki and Great Plains Camp in Kenya. They introduced me to Great Plains Camp and working there has been my dream come true.”