Thursday, May 15, 2008

Maasai Wife


Disclaimer: we woke up early this morning and had a full day so its a long blog.

Earl Leonard, the namesake of the scholars program in ILA would have been very proud today. Earl was a senior VP of Coke during the 80s and 90s. Our trip to the Bonite Bottlers (local bottle of Coca-Cola) was an amazing display of an assembly line efficiency. Emily said Henry Ford would have been proud. Five senior managers in the company met with us to talk about their financials and their projected goals until 2010. Pepsi is just now coming on strong as a competitor, but Coke still holds 80 percent market share. So it's kinda like Atlanta. The most astonishing transition for us as students is to see the use of glass bottles. It seems archaeic but it is actually the most cost effective method. After seeing all the numbers, we headed to the fun stuff... the plant itself.

Bonite uses spring water and purifies it themselves before mixing in sugars and flavors. The first line we saw produced Fanta orange. They would load a recycled bottle into the cleaner, check the quality of the glass, fill, cap, and pack it for shipping all in about 15 minutes... Amazing. There is also a permament Coke only line that is all automated but does the same stuff. Our group gawked over the lever that kicked underfilled or messed up bottles out of line and into the reject pile. They produce about 300,000 bottles of Coke in 8 hours and only have about 250 rejects. The broadcast news major in me doesn't know the real percentage on that one! The final and most exciting assembly line was the one producing bottled water. The plastic starts looking like a test tube but it is heated and blown into shape in about 30 seconds... So cool.

After a quick lunch with the maymester students we met with the Coke distributor. He's the local expert and personally calls on all the accounts daily. They have a VIP program that provides businesses coke tables and chairs, a fridge, and a tv. The catch is that they can't sell any Pepsi products and the distributor is the enforcer.

Our next stop was Shah Industries, a leather work and carpentry shop. It is run by an Indian family that has been in business for over 50 years. The owner employees handicapped people that can't find work elsewhere. They make beautiful leather creations as well as cultural carvings. This is the place we decided to spend our money! They don't mark up their prices too bad and we are supporting a very philanthropic business. I would tell you what we bought but we would be spoiling some people's gifts!

Our final adventure of the day was the most "African" experience we have had all trip. Our Maasai guides led us into the rice paddies and on into the jungle... It was amazing to see Kili out from underneath the cover of clouds. In the jungle we saw tons of monkeys in the Acacia trees. One of the Masaai boys had an affinity for blondes and dressed me in their traditional clothing. He declared me a Maasai wife...nice...I get to milk cows for the rest of my days. Anyways, it was beautiful and we loved getting to spend some time out in nature. Our day ended with a pool game of Mombo Poa, a Swahili version of Marco Polo.

Now a shameless plug, I'm also keeping a daily personal blog at I uploaded a lot of pictures and you can check it out for a different perspective on the trip! Miss y'all!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It sounds like an awesome time. I know you will have some great adventures to tell when you get back.