Sitting at home sick gave me a chance to read the sort of online news items that I seldom have time for. This one, via Reuters' Alertnet called up memories from a decade ago:
On a trip to Tanzania nearly 10 years ago to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro and see wild animals, we were offered the opportunity to visit "a Maasai village." I was uncomfortable. The encampment was set up just off a highway; it gave the sense of being a sort of human zoo. We each paid $10 to enter.
After greetings from a male elder, we were allowed to walk around and look at people. A few of us -- all women -- were encouraged by hand signs to crawl into one of the brush and hide structures that serve the Maasai as shelters. There, Maasai women asked for a little more money, anything we could give. A very old woman who spoke a little English explained that the women would get nothing from the men for hosting us and dancing for us -- could we give just a little more, for them? Of course we gave. I have no idea whether this was a ruse to get more out of the zoo's visitors or the women really managed to keep the money.
I am haunted by the condition of those women. I am haunted by the reality that a small minority group has to sell its culture as a tourist attraction.
The Alertnet article reminded me of the conditions women face in so many parts of the world.