In 1994 I spend six months studying and traveling in Kenya and Tanzania. I was fortunate enough to stay with a few families, including a Samburu family in the highlands. I sailed and sweated on the coast, recovered in Nairobi, learned about animals, history and myself in the preserves and tried, unsuccessfully, to climb Mt. Kenya. My arrival in Samburuland corresponded fortuitously with the first rains in months, causing much celebration. While the Samburu clearly knew I didn’t bring the rain, we were seen as good omens, and greeted even more warmly than normal. In the language of the Masai and Samburu, the word for “God” and “rain” are the same, which more than anything I witnessed showed me the significance of water to their way of life.
I don’t think I ever met an unhappy tribesperson the entire time I was there. And the children I played with, kicked the soccer ball with, gave Band-Aids to and laughed with remain etched in my memory. Through it all, I wore this purple Spoonbill Hat, which is sadly no longer kicking—though it lasted well beyond the trip, after so many washings with super-powered African detergent (Blue Omo! Now with PowerFoam!) it could no longer perform. I have owned other Patagonia pieces longer, but this one had a rich life, and every time I see it in pictures, I’m reminded of the adventures it accompanied me on, especially the months in Africa. It was sort of joke among my travelling companions, who seemed to think its color was questionable. I don’t know why—I always loved it.
(Also visible: Original Chouinard Equipment day pack; Patagonia A/C polo; Baggies longs)