by Christy Ihlo -- June 18th, 2012
For the past two weeks, we have been staying in the dorm. That might seem a little odd as Noloholo is in the middle of the bush and perhaps a dorm would seem out of place. But on the contrary, Noloholo is a pretty extensive center complete with meeting rooms, offices, staff housing, a kitchen, a dining room (almost finished), guest quarters, shower rooms, and a dorm. The dorm is really nice. It sleeps 32 – 8 rooms with 2 sets of bunk beds apiece. Like all of the buildings here, they strove to maintain the traditional Maasai building techniques when constructing the dorm. It is built out of old termite mound mixed with just a little cement to make it last a little bit longer. The roof is thatch. They use a few wooden beams for support, but not many. All of Noloholo runs off solar power, so electricity is plentiful and reliable, which is excellent. Water, on the other hand, is not so plentiful. This year has been exceptionally dry at Loibor Siret. The Maasai Steppe ecosystem generally receives 500-800 mm of rain per year, but this year fell short of the low 500 mm mark at Noloholo and therefore water is a valuable commodity. Noloholo was designed with water conservation in mind and underground cisterns collect as much runoff rainwater as possible for use during the dry season (May-October, typically). In past years, the cisterns have contained water at least until July, if not August. However, they were empty weeks ago which means water must be brought in from the village. The village generally does not run out of water as the people can manually pump water to the surface from the aquifer, but a dry year means longer lines to get water.
But I digress. Back to moving day. We knew we would be camping for at least part of the time here (during summer camp for example) and we have elected to move out to the campsite early. The staff was kind enough to clear and level three plots of land for us, so we each have our own space. The sites are on the edge of the center, overlooking the western horizon. It is beautiful and very peaceful as we are further away from the staff housing now. We will be spending at least the next several weeks here, if not the rest of the summer!