This Thursday was another rest day for the team, but we spent the morning out observing the Wamunyu wood carvers and of course, buying some of their finely-crafted works. We started out around 10 and got to enjoy another drive in the country, which is personally one of the most relaxing and enjoyable things here. The landscape is gorgeous - I absolutely love the red dirt, which was caused by a volcano (as our knowledgeable driver tells us), and the greenery is a gorgeous compliment - take it from an art major. I never get enough of it. The compound where we arrived held several long huts, and under each one two rows of workers sat and carved. The first man we talked to had been carving for years, and though some go to schools specifically for that trade, he learned on his own. Like most of the other workers, he was carving a bowl that was shaped roughly like Africa and had an animal climbing into the top of it. As we moved on, we saw that they all used very effective, simple tools with amazing skill. Most of them could be best described as flatheaded ice picks of various sizes - one wrong move and you'd have a huge gash in your leg! I did notice that they had very small tools as well, for detail carving. It was difficult sometimes to imagine what their finished projects would look like, but after a short while we went into the store and were immediately blown away. There were wood projects of all sizes and shapes - from giant giraffes twice my size, to decorated wooden utensils for food, to jewelry bracelets and necklaces, to keychains, masks, sandals, bookends, and my favorite - every African animal you could imagine, carved with the utmost care and detail, sanded down to an unbelievable smoothness. It was tough not to spend all of our shillings in once place! After buying gifts and souvenirs for our families and friends, we headed back home, another free morning well spent.
peace and love, all!