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August 19, 1966

Dear Mom and Dad,

…I’ve been trying something a little different the last couple of weeks. Instead of going to an area and living with a teacher or in my own room and then getting around to as many bomas as possible in the time I have, I’ve decided to try another tack. I think that because my contact with the people is so brief it’s not allowing me to get to know anyone really well. My understanding of the people and their customs is going to remain pretty superficial also.

In the past two weeks, I’ve lived at three bomas, two to four days each, spending most of my time at the boma itself, only visiting other people in the immediate area. I have an army cot and a sleeping bag, which I carry on the back of the bike. I take a few cans of meat and my own water, since I’m not able to eat their food entirely yet and am frightened to use the water they use, often it comes from a creek that both the animals and the people use. So far this is working out well. In the evenings, the whole family gathers around the fire, and the atmosphere is much more relaxed than during the day. After the first or second day, the people are more open with me, and ready to talk about their difficulties, customs, etc. At one of these bomas near Oldonyosombo, on the other side of Mount Meru, the elders and young men killed and cooked a goat in my honor. I really feel that this method is going to get me deeper into the mentality of the people – only time will tell.

Love,

Ned

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