The rains have begun and the desert is blooming. It has been said that during the dry season, one would not believe that the country could be green. For months the landscape has been dry and the color of rust, dust and sand as far as the eye can see. Now after just a few good rains, the land is green and the grass is already a couple of inches high. In fact some cattle have become sick due to overeating. I am told that sometimes cattle over fill their stomachs with the new green grass and can die. There are also huge herds of giraffes around. I don’t understand the reason for this since these long necked animals don’t graze on the grass but rather browse the leaves high up in the acacia trees that populate the plains around Olbalbal.
Soon the herds of cattle that were trekked to the highlands for the long dry season will return. The high plateaus surrounding the crater almost always have grass and provide dry season grazing for the herds of Olbalbal. Recently, I visited Tomaslav Mesec, a Croatian Spiritan working at Nainokanoka at 8,000 feet above sea level. It is mostly cold and foggy there and I was happy to return to the warm climate of plains and Olbalbal. Tomaslav finds the loves the cold foggy weather of Nainokanoka, saying that it is similar to the winter weather in Croatia. During my visit, I found many Maasai villages at Nainokanoka filled with the cattle of Olbalbal taking advantage of the good green grass of that high country.
Soon we’ll be seeing the dung beetles pushing their tremendous loads and traveling to who knows where. The rains provide respite from the constant pressure of finding fodder for the small herds of cattle and flocks of sheep and goats that remain here for the dry season. With the more relaxed atmosphere, the young men and girls pass the evenings singing and dancing.
Last year the unusually heavy rainy season devastated a dam here at Olbalbal. This particular dam has been fix three times in the past and now has failed again. The Conservation Authority of Ngorongoro fixed the huge gaping hole where the water had destroyed the retaining wall at great expense bringing huge earth moving equipment here to Olalbal. Everyone is wondering if they will undertake that herculean task a fourth time.