Category Archives: Mumbo Nature

ICELAND

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A lot to say- little of which concerns imprudent former PM Gunnlaugsson, toppled by a whopping demonstration that aped the toilet surge at Glastonbury after an especially long set: driven, yet contained, enabling a sense of relief in the end.

130 volcanoes. Panoramic lunar landscapes. Population of 27.

Visited by those in the first throes of romance, mascara shunners, and 19 year-olds welded to cans of beer. 

Breathtakingly, stupidly beautiful, so that friends want to wrestle your camera off you on your return and stamp on it- then you- repeatedly. 

For the uninitiated, a few tips…

PENURY

Iceland is possibly the most expensive destination on earth, giving the thumbs up to Japan.

It starts when you buy a bag of cashews at the airport and try desperately for a currency conversion different to the correct one that implies the nuts have spanked 34% of your budget and you must ration them at 8 per family member, per day. 

Later, when you buy petrol, you’ll pull over in a panic to execute a Santander statement check after Babylon has failed to confirm if ‘fjillar’ (or similar) is Icelandic for ‘full tank’, as you thought, or ‘fuel season ticket’, as it would now appear.

By the end of your holiday, everything will seem incredibly cheap, as you’ve squeezed through your own financial birth canal into a virtual Tamara Ecclestone delivery room.

FAKE ATTRACTIONS

A little known fact about Iceland is that its best known tourist attractions are man-made.

This is because natural beauty isn’t enough for idiots with ruck sacks; we need a pamphlet and a ticket in order to cross items off a bucket list that’s more like a crater hole seeing as, in the grand scheme of things, we’ve done precious little with our lives.

A fine example of this is Thingvellir, Iceland’s original ‘parliament’. (The clue is in the lazy naming.)

All manner of delightful line drawings depict tufty little make-shift houses with moss on top and hairy Viking-type characters heaving around canvas and stones on their strong shoulders.

There’s a gift shop in 50 shades of grey, with architectural lines, and someone’s had a lot of fun putting together a re-enactment video, with the above drawings set to Sigor Ros, and facts rendered convincing by nicknames such as ‘The Law Rock’.

Seeing as the ‘hard’ evidence is a board platform built in 1998 around a cliff face, it’s largely a question of faith.

Nevertheless, tourists just lap up any info that chucks around some AD dates, so all is well.

Likewise, the geysirs.

Long since passed their spontaneously-exploding heyday, the modern versions are pump-operated and heated by the thermal underwear of social media-savvy elves.

Timed to climax on the dry mackintosh jackets of Americans asking ‘Is this, like, all there is?’ at the entrance, they drench their victims to give them something material to whinge about on the monster truck home.

Not, however, before they have sampled a party bucket each of liquorice ice-cream topped with a delicious ice magic crust that is petrified hot chocolate, and a handful of strangely unsatisfying local maltesers known as noa kropp.

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NARCISSIM

Selfie sticks against Icelandic landscapes: the most spectacular scenery on the planet, with your shitty little face in front of it. 

BJORK

No one knows what to do with her, the tiny wide-mouthed elephant in Iceland’s room.

Is she cool? Does anyone remember The Sugarcubes? If she tried to snog Lady Gaga would they crash head gear?

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HOT WATER (natural)

Geothermal pools are springs heated by groundwater in the earth, invariably surrounded by calming stones and the invigorating sounds of the elements.

Nourishing for mind, body and spirit, it’s yoga for well-intentioned sloths.

Immersion in the great outdoors even in the depths of winter is a glorious thing; add a steam pool spell to disinter your deep-seated bacteria and you’ll peel off years, along with the layers of dead skin. 

One catch is the eggy smell generated by the sulphur.

When a dog next expels air from its bottom you can flip this around by being transported back to your Nordic travels.

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HOT WATER (less natural)

The Blue Lagoon (or The Blue Magoon, if you are 6) is a lava field whose mineral-rich waters offers a complete spa experience.

Alternatively, it is an industrial-sized bath filled with people who have been diverted on their way back to the airport for reasons that seem to remain mostly unclear to them.

Scores of clay-faced hominids drift aimlessly around in bikinis and flexed pecs watching others doing the same, wondering if anyone’s going to be the first to ask- you know- what the actual f*** they’re all doing there.

At any given moment at least one pretty 20-something blogger can be found trying to capture a selfie on her now-slimy iPhone, while elsewhere young men use the disguise of the milky water to try to wet hump their girlfriends as they block from their peripheral vision the gawping Cleethorpes couple on a long weekend anniversary trip of a lifetime.

The staff are numerous and futuristic in their efficiency as they patrol the eerie gathering, administering laser wrist tags and reassuring confused patrons- Carey Mulligan almost certainly waiting to make an entrance wearing a wry smile and a black latex bodysuit.

The package costs are tiered: to trade financial security for one week you get the white face mask and a welcome smile. For 2 months of sleepless nights, you get the green one, flip flops, and a robe.

The result is that the women with white faces can see whose fiances love them more, while Carey M makes a note of the next cheap intake to be ‘cleansed’ from this soft-skinned utopian society.

The experience is unfathomably tasteful given its scale, and very pleasant too, if a tad deflated by dozens of little ‘Private Luxury Area’ and ‘For Excellent People Only’ signs giving you a tiny clue others are having a better one.

In a side channel there are even oligarchs enjoying floating massages which, again, if you are 6 and gullible you might believe are dead people, marring what had otherwise been a lovely Easter break.

On departure, you feel like a very clean person who’s just been mugged (with a loofah gun?)

And, if you forgot to lather conditioner into your hair prior to your silica dipping you’ll wonder who has grafted Kerry Katona’s straw hair extensions onto your head, and when.

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COLD WATER (land)

Water from rivers fed by melting glacier ice falls bountifully down the craggy volcanic rocks with gay abandon here.

Powerful whether you approach from above, below, or behind, these tumbling cascades are endlessly mesmerising- unless you are under 35 years old, in which case exposure to your 50th prototype leads you to discover new swearwords.

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COLD WATER (sea)

Whale watching contains the central paradox presented by existence: whether to surrender to time-limited bliss, or attempt to memorialise a fragment of it- and the camera has muddled our greedy minds in the business of its resolution.

For, while there’s immeasurable joy in witnessing a silky blue humpback logging, ‘spouting’, and diving, there’s an equal spot of fun to be had watching, or partaking in, the grapple of long lenses, glove removal, and optimal orientation to snap the action.

Many fascinating guide facts and mammalian acrobatics later, the crowd will be found on the lower deck, side-swiping iPhones manically in search of the money shot, like so many whale fanciers on Tinder Aquatic, a cup of rum-laced hot chocolate in hand.

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SNOW

Now, time for a serious question. Apart from a helicopter ride, what would be the least wise activity to book in the land of £45 avocados? Snowmobiling? Bingo!

But, remember, by now you’re in Ecclestone world, and when in Rome it’s customary to do things only thrill-seeking non-Romans would consider. 

It’s a simple formula: you get dressed up in Tim Peake gear and driven to the top of a glacier, which is on top of the country’s 4th largest volcano, which is over-due to erupt by 50 years.

Then you get a brief lesson from Olaf about how not to ruin his machines with your crappy driving skills, and zoom around on Heaven’s sunlit snowscape, shouting at angels who can’t hear you to get out of the way.

Hands-down the most fun thing you can do with the most clothes on, it is worth every single mortgaged krona.

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LIGHTS

On arrival in Iceland, you pass through a chamber that gives you ABA.

At first you are grateful to get something for free that won’t sing Super Trouper at you.

Then, you realise it stands for Aurora Borealis Anxiety and you wish you could hand it back.

Symptoms include obsessive checking of specialist weather sites you don’t understand and the equivalent of 4 days shivering in minus temperatures outside your warm dwelling, staring existentially into the black, black night.

Elsewhere, the seriously afflicted chase around on tours, or don spongy headgear and earphones for a more complete floating experience.

Still, when they do make an appearance, the wait has been warranted.

Even in a more mildly dramatic version than the full National Geographic, the Northern Lights are ethereal, majestic, magical, and just about every other word you’d want to throw at fairies and alcohol- a shifting, phosphorescent and unadulterated wonder, filtered through breeze-framed silence.

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WEIRD THINGS

The Horses

These aren’t weird, but their ubiquity is; they are e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e, standing in little clumps, wearing funny hairstyles, trying to assert their larger-than-Shetland stature.

In brown, golden, and black, they do their best to look like something you want to paint rather than a creature who’s back you plan to break with your fat, tourist arse.

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The Language

Any tongue you don’t speak is all a bit Greek, but Icelandic is in another league.

There’s no discerning of sentence boundaries, and you’re not sure how much energy to put into the effort as the 27 natives mostly speak English anyway.

Certainly, they bandy around extra esses and ens like the Welsh splurge on effs, the overall effect reinforcing the Tolkien vibes, with a hobbit emphasis.

By extension, radio stations are curious. The antithesis of our overgrown slappable-teenage-twat-style, they sound like they’re broadcasting at the foot of a rainbow, drinking cloud juice.

In tones somnambulant, gentle and earnest, they wrestle with a playlist that’s nine tenths Bob Dylan and two tenths whistling Nordic folk of the Christopher Guest genre, with the odd hit of Gene Kelly and Ella Fitzgerald (with a hard ‘g’) in the mix.

Plus the other station that plays Will Young’s c-sides and full-on cheesey pop from 2003.

THE CAPITAL

Now, for all that trouble to fabricate its main attractions, Iceland’s capital city represents an oversight.

‘X things to do in Reykjavik‘ lists tend to start and finish with the number ‘1’, namely an elevator zoom up, ooh,  50 metres into the pointy bit of (apologies) the most hideous 1940s church (‘Hallgrímskirkja‘) ever consecrated.

From here you do, indeed, get a peachy view of the town’s colourful houses, old harbour, and the phenomenal contemporary showstopper that is the Harpa opera house building.

But hope not for frescoes and bell towers: this puppy is grey cement on the inside and struggles intensely to approximate anything like a holy atmosphere.

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The rest of the city, we are told, is all about the ambience, in that ‘she’s got a great personality’ kind of way. 

But a gem it is- quirky and creative, doing an arm wrestle with Seattle for thrift bookstores, nerd-cool skate stops, and foodie zones.

Fashion is second-hand and grungy, or scandi-clean- an aesthetic I love.

Take the slouchy slacks and trainers of Ellen deGeneres; make them navy; give them a designer aesthetic and interesting textures; and sneak in a metallic calf-length pleated skirt… then off you go.

First, grow your hair long and straight, and die it platinum grey with white highlights.

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TRADITIONAL CULTURE (FOOD)

Icelanders are as shackled to pickled shark, Black Death vodka, and puffin meat as Kylie is to The Locomotion: embarrassing, but it’s what they’re known for. 

The delectable fresh fish is the real talking point, obvs, although the lamb is worth a special mention too.

In the vegetable department, they start muffling into their sleeves and pointing at the organic rice cakes.

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TRADITIONAL CULTURE (SPORT)

Iceland’s national sport is Glima wrestling, an ancient martial art form that incorporates aspects of dance.

Opponents try to attain the title of The Glima King or Queen by flooring each other gracefully, gripping tightly onto each others’ oversized pants.

Somewhat unbelievably, it’s stupider in real life than it sounds and will be known henceforward- in our household, at least- as ‘Wedgie-fling’.

TRADITIONAL CULTURE (CLOTHES)

Iceland’s national costume is the yoked jumper.

As well as people, it adorns napkins, mugs, and new year’s resolutions.

It is literally impossible to wear in a cool way: if you are a man you become a sheep farmer, or Ben Affleck in a movie where he takes someone like Hilary Swank to an alpine lodge to shag her next to an open fire after a fondue.

If you are a woman, you look like someone who cries because they are single.

Don’t even think about trying to modernise it, or to make it ironic; it would be like shaving the outline of a Ginsters sausage roll into your hipster beard.

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HIPSTER CULTURE

I don’t know much about hipsterdom, but I guess its counter-culturalism makes it inherently close to what was once known as being very square.

If this is true, then hipster culture might have actually started in Iceland’s main city. Plaits, hairy jumpers and insouciance come as standard.

The best cafes make their London East End counterparts look like Starbucks.

There’s scant affectation here. You get the impression that large headphones, leg warmers, music-that-is-clanking-instruments, and coffee bean dust from the grinder is just how they roll.

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Borne of this theme, walking tours of the city are better booked through cute, subversive blogs than on the established websites.

By all accounts, this way you can bypass the history lesson in favour of a 2-hour trip around your leader’s favourite work-out venue and troubled personal life, all for the same cost as a long weekend in Venice.

Or, you can go it alone using a map of the city’s exceptionally rich street art as your compass.

The art form (deserving of a dedicated blog, d.v) is represented vividly and prolifically on every available public surface.

It’s fun, accomplished, maverick, or rubbish depending both on which piece you catch, your point of view, and whether you are a cleaner for the council.

Regardless, it’s the prevailing flavour of the city, and one not to be missed- if you had the opportunity to miss it, which you don’t.

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There’s no summing up Iceland.

But if you are lucky enough to be possessed of sound body and mind in this lifetime, not to sample it would be a crying shame (lack of off-shore bank accounts notwithstanding, of course).

No matter where you are and what you’re going through, somewhere in this land of ice there roars a ceaseless waterfall.

 

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April 7, 2016 · 12:04 pm

Soho Farmhouse

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Once upon a time, the privileged were lonely.

They were forced to huddle in their 80,000 square foot properties, looking at pictures of each other in Hello!

Now there is a place where they can go and ignore each other in the flesh.

That place is Soho Farmhouse, the not-in-Soho, not-so-country-bumpkin latest addition to Nick Jones’ brace of stylish leisure centres for non-hipsters with a party pulse.

Belonging here is serious business. It’s not uncommon for the Aspirational to kill founder members and wear their skin, in the way Hannibal Lector might if he once worked in media, but now lacked the clout for his application to be seconded by a Lord.

There’s a swell of anticipation on the approach, down roads only visible through Celine prescription sunglasses. Based on the feverish development underway, you glimpse a Soho Gloucestershire on the horizon; one field’s being prepared as an underground propolis city for Cowshed toe cream.

The car park would square up comfortably to a premiership footballer’s front drive, motoring prize poodles lined up cheek-to-jowl sporting ‘my other car’s a helicopter’ stickers. You’re not sure where best to slip in: apparently, a Maserati drops £20k in value every time a Honda stops alongside.

Ah, but when your feet first connect with that socially-rich soil, can it matter how you got there? If there’s no-one from security chasing you down at 5 mph in a sleek buggy, then you’re IN.

It feels rather special to gain access to a member’s-only fiefdom in a county where ordinary people get electrocuted for using the wrong paint colour- like being rubbed all over with insulating smug butter.

The mix of exclusivity with wholesome fresh air is so destabilising, for a moment you fear you might forget to ‘check in’ on your iPhone.

Regardless, it’s important to betray no elation while gliding around these grounds; smiling here indicates you are having a nervous breakdown and heading straight back to The Priory after your weekend release. Or, worse, that you are very, very grateful to have a friend to bring you along.

I stand on the path and drink it all in, feeling very, very grateful.

It’s a phenomenon less country club, more urbal settlement (that’s an odious little truncation of urban and rural).

There are wooden cabins and outhouses and gyms dotted all around, like a 3-D avatar village for aesthetes who eat artisan tempeh and remember Playschool.

There’s a small lake with boats and steam rising from a cool, heated outdoor pool; bicycles to borrow while the Bentley rests; outdoor sofas with cushions in faultlessly-nice colours; log pits burning; table tennis tables; snooker.

You can go ice-skating or film-watching or people spying and unless you pass a mirror you could up-end every nook and cranny, and you wouldn’t see one solitary unbeautiful object.

God week-ends here, occasionally riding around in an SF vintage-style trap pulled by one of the horses, trying to look like a feature film director.

And entertainment’s not the end of it.

There are stores that offer an opportunity to replicate this perfection at home- delicacies, and dinner jackets, and Elephant’s Breath plants.

Everywhere you look- every turn of the maze you take- tastefully-displayed premium quality wonder goods are available for purchase. The entire premises is, in fact, 100% bullet-proofed against naffness. (Note: Farmhousers don’t find naffness funny; they let their nephew get on with that in Dalston.)

Inside the main food hall, the honey-hued hum of success emits.

Whether gained through fame, hard graft, good looks, or good luck, money is talking.

These are people who live life in capital letters. Their hair is Hair. Their coat is a Coat.

They look at you a fraction too long, in order to conduct on your body a Terminator scan of social relevance.

When they see that not only are you not Amal Clooney, but you’re also not Kelly Hoppen, you have to absorb the disappointed-dismissive balancing essential oil mix that’s sweating from their newly-massaged bodies.

The food is amazing. The service is amazing. Everyone’s shoes are amazing.

There’s a woman with fluorescent teeth playing boules and a comedian having lunch as if he’s just a regular guy who needs to eat. Children in cashmere wellingtons are being chased around the courtyard by Cara Delevigne wearing a Scooby Doo onesie. What, will Angelina’s lips soon be booking themselves into the cinema room with copper mugs of Moscow Mule?

Where are all the real people? your head spins. ‘Take me back to Kansas.’

Then a teenaged member of staff with spots and a local accent asks if you left your antibiotics in the bathroom and- crypes- it’s really happening, after all.

Like squeezy honey or penicillin, Soho Farmhouse is so necessary you wonder why it hasn’t been invented before.

The answer may lie in the Soho Empire expansion strategy, which mirrors the life stages of an adman: Central London in his heyday (chop ’em up); stints in the States (can I powder prescriptions drugs?); wife and kids in Chiswick, with weekends at Bab house (did you bring the viagra?) whoah, still got it! in Shoreditch (mdma bombs): enjoying his career spoils in the countryside (how could you even suggest it? Oh go on then, rack me up a Cheeky); keeping it real/ feeling a bit shot, tbh, in the Bush (weak tea, 2 Candarels).

Soho Beachhut’s planned in for Bournemouth 2030: ermine-trimmed zimmers and a Soho Font ‘Bowling Alley’ sign re-housed from another location, with the ‘alley’ blacked out.

I wallow in the glow. I never want to leave. Life at Soho Farmhouse is too damn good.

But I falter. Do I belong? With my fake Hermes bag, and unmanicured nails, and my hair that is just hair.

Then it dawns on me. If there’s one thing that fabulous needs more than fabulous, it’s an audience.

So I complete this daydream on a gorgeous sofa in front of the fire with my own (more quietly) fabulous friends.

Drinking jasmine tea, and wondering whose skin would fit me best.

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The ‘T’ word

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Tourism: it’s a dirty word- especially in the travel industry.

The touch it implies is altogether too light.

Who wants to be seen with a camera, map, and backpack gawping up at the neon of Piccadilly Circus when you can be living in an igloo, learning an Inuit language- ‘like, living a culture from the inside‘?

The traveling appetite of the comfortably-heeled- along with their hunger in entertainment- is in the process of undergoing a marked shift from the passive to the active.

It’s no longer enough to go to the cinema: we want to participate in the screening, and to do so in secret locations.

Your story about that theatre outing is all very charming, but I was bossed around by the actors at mine- and guess which one of us is holding court?

Oh wait, neither, because Joe Schmo on my right, here, was the person around whom the entire play revolved…

The buzzword is EXPERIENCE.

And leading the charge is the authentic sampling of other countries not glancing up at the Pyramids en route to a plate of egg, ham and chips, but rubbing sand into your body swathed in meticulously-crafted replicas of Ancient Egyptian garments.

It’s about keeping it real in unreal environments, and all well and good; whatever floats your questing, seeking boat.

But how does this relate to the age-old practice of experiencing the peoples of other cultures?

How far do we get to taste them?

We went on a safari in Tanzania over the Christmas period.

As we drove between locations, we often saw the Masai going about their business of herding cattle, or perched by the sides of the roads.

Dressed only in bright Shuka cloths out in the middle of vast fields, in possession of nothing but a stick, the way of life of these semi-nomadic people is about as far from that of the average Londoner as you can get.

We asked our Guide a river of questions: Where do they live? Do the children go to school? What do they eat? Why, who, what? again and again, as each answer piqued further curiosity.

Then, on Day 9, the unfolding of our itinerary: a visit to a Masai Village- a sort of animals-in-the-morning-people-in-the-afternoon-type-affair.

Hmmm.

So, on the one hand, I’d LOVE to do that.

I’d pretty much go into anyone’s home for a nosy; I’m Pinocchio after a lying orgy.

On the other hand, isn’t that a bit intrusive?

This isn’t really about warmth and hospitality, is it?

It’s about a performance in exchange for cash.

It’s about us having money and them not having money, and them having to sell a bit of themselves to our nosiness in order to get it.

Like hawking a ticket to the Sultan of Brunei so he can witness my adorable, dirty children watching crap TV on a Saturday night: ‘My, but I AM feeling grateful for those gold taps now’…

Our Guide, Christopher- a strong-hearted, tell-it-like-it-is man of Masai blood, but not the traditional lifestyle- was reassuring.

Some of the villages, he explained, apply for government permits that allow them to show visitors around. (The permits are a source of revenue, of course, but they also seek to ensure responsible tourism, so that visitors are welcomed respectfully).

The Masai are not financially wealthy, but neither do they need to be, as by living off the land and the cattle they keep, they are almost entirely self-sufficient.

However, they need money if they want secondary education for their children of any sort (schooling is fee-paying throughout Tanzania) and for certain extraneous supplies, like fuel.

Therefore, visits from outsiders are a source of income.

A voluntary donation of $50 per tour is requested up-front, and the craftwork of the women is then offered persuasively for purchase at the end.

It is a transaction, yes, but one considered to be a fair exchange.

This is no Slum Tourism; the people are proud of their way of life and their work.

They are not in poverty; they are happy to share their customs.

Hmmm again, but this from a trusted source, and we weren’t in the market to take along a paparazzi-lens camera.

So we pitched up, sharing the slot with another family staying in our camp, though we remained in our separate groups.

And what a jimbly-jumbly experience of emotions it gave rise to.

We were greeted by a young Masai Warrior on arrival.

He was open, friendly, and on automatic pilot while delivering a script of sorts about the tour: I think he’d done this before.

We made our donation, did masses of humble smiling, and then popped up right in the middle of a traditional singing, dancing and jumping routine, split by gender.

The deep guttural humming and clicking noises of the men; the extraordinary faces of the women (extraordinary to us, that is); the clothing and jewellery and the thousand nuances of a life lived differently, were intoxicating.

I felt honoured, and thrilled, and ridiculous all at the same time: plonk a necklace on the stupid white woman, and watch her beam.

The general atmosphere was celebratory, though I would say more amongst the young men than the women, who came across as ambivalent and unperturbed in contrast to their engaged male counterparts.

The kids were the good-humoured focus of all (young boys are especially prized, as girls = dowries) – an exchange of genuinely joyous connection taking place between them and our hosts.

After this, we were invited inside one of the seasonal homes by our Guide, following a brief overview of the Masai habitations, diet and age-set system.

It was the most basic dwelling (as in, unadorned, non- mod-conned) I’ve encountered: barely 5 foot high inside, with 3 ‘bricks’ burning in the centre, for heat and light; 3 pint-sized compartments for the parents, young children and goats; a ladle and pot hanging on the interior wall.

The simplicity of these homes was remarkable.

An episode of listen and reflect, as opposed to stare and judge, it left me thinking of my duvet and face cream with a mixture of love and self-loathing, calling to mind the ‘perfumed ponce’ line from Withnail and I.

We were then taken to the tiny school hut where the children learn Swahili and English- a little girl springing up to lead the rest of the class in a song for our benefit.

This learned behaviour of pleasing (for money) from one so young was a jarring point, somehow serving to throw an off-colour light on our giving of the colouring pencil gifts we had brought with us from the UK (for the purpose of general present-offering, as we didn’t know about this official visit in advance): we had not been holding the gifts ransom to a display of winning ingratiation.

The final leg of our three quarter hour trot around the village was a vast display of beaded and wooden handicrafts, which our Guide was careful to point out we were NOT obliged to purchase.

We bought 3 small mementos, for which their chief negotiator- a man stationed by the bins working the character of a wheeler-dealer salesman- asked $65 of us- perhaps in a game of ‘who’s exploiting whom?’; we settled on $50.

And then we were off; fond waving and no blood spilt, as my Dad would say- the most unsettling comment coming, surprisingly, from Christopher, who invited the kids to consider how lucky they are.

Though well-meant, and infused with good humour, it imparted to us an uneasy superiority: is an iTouch the path to true richness?

Did we discuss their declining way of life? The poaching of wild animals? FGM? The insidious creep of Western ‘permissiveness’?

No. We passed through their world exuding an odd mixture of appreciation and apology, mindful to capture photos and footage in the open spaces only despite repeated assertions we were welcome to do so without limitation in the intimate ones.

Might the sensitivity of visitors vary?

Yes, as may the guileless nature of the village Guide’s welcome.

I found it fascinating to come into contact with an unfamiliar slice of existence.

I disliked the contrived circumstances under which it came about, but wonder if favouring the bespoke or spontaneous experience is primarily an affectation.

The Masai had found a conduit for their crafts which would spread an appreciation of their culture beyond the confines of their immediate environment, in (part) exchange for a curious family of four crouching in one of their temporary homes.

To the extent that they noticed us, they might have sensed that we are not crass colonials.

For our part, the prejudice of the ‘primitive native’ was a far cry.

The confluence of cultures may serve ultimately to dilute those identities, but where barriers are dropped understanding ensues.

In a world where perceived divisions can get you shot in the streets and at your desk, one could argue that (appropriately-mediated) old-style ‘tourism’ – the type that brings together people who might otherwise consider each other alien- is not necessarily such a dirty word after all.

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War of the Roses

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