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July 8, 1971

Dear Mom and Dad,

Tonight I’m at a place called Olkitikiti (means arm pit in Maasai). I suppose it is very descriptive in their language, but doesn’t come across well in English. It is a valley and on three sides, surrounded by hills, to the south is gently rising bush country. Here in the valley is a dam put in by the English about three-quarters of a mile long and about one-quarter mile wide. Because the water is permanent, grass in the area is abundant. The Maasai in the area are fairly settled and live here in large numbers. It is about twenty miles from Kijungu, one of the areas I’ve decided to work in. I got here yesterday and plan to stay about five more days. I caught five small fish this evening and fried them for dinner. They are about five inches long and were very sweet (they look like miniature bass). I caught some small frogs for bait. If they continue to be as easy to catch as they were today, I’ll have no meals out of cans here.

The big news is that we bought a truck. It is an old English army three ton Austen Lorry. It must be about fifteen years old, but is in excellent condition. As with everything that is built to army specifications, it was built to last. It also has four-wheel drive, which will be a real help during the rains. The great thing about it is that it’s a camper. It was a radio repair field truck and is fitted with an insulated nine feet by six feet house on the back. The outside is metal, then come two inches of fiber-glass insulation, then hard board on the inside. There are five windows with sliding screens and glass windows; a long metal table with steel cabinets running along one side and bunk beds are fixed to the other. It has three lights powered by the truck battery in regular light fixtures in the ceiling. I’m only use the electric lights until I get the pressure lamp lit, so as not to run down the battery. I also put in a two-burner gas stove, bolted right to the table, and the gas bottle fits nicely underneath. With the insulation, the room is cool during the day and warm at night. On the outside are places for carrying four jerry cans of petrol and a large toolbox. When all filled, I’ve got a thirty gallon capacity, which gives me about three hundred miles traveling without refilling. With this I can go into the bush and stay for a couple of weeks or more carrying everything I need. It gives a lot of safety from animals too. There are elephants down by the dam now, about seventy-five yards away. In this I’m as safe as I would be at home is the US.

Love,

Ned

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