Saturday, March 22, 2008

Turme, Omo Valley, Ethiopia, - Nickle and Dimed.

Hamer market in Turme.

Hamer girls... I'm not sure how they get the sea shell necklaces.

Hamer woman.

Hamer guy. You can't see it but he's wearing a skirt. Practical I guess. Bracelets signify that he is in fact a Hamer.

Older Hamer Guy...

Hamer house...

A woman wearing clothes is like a man in the kitchen.
-Farangi Rule of Aquisition #4

Not often in the past 2 weeks have I spent more than one night in the same place. Turme is supposed to be action packed with Hamer activity: a village walk, a mini market, a moon dance show (nothing done in Omo is staged, really), and if you're really lucky you'll see a famous mating ritual involving men contestants hoping over cows. I wasn't lucky enough to see the cow hopping ritual but the mini market was ok. It wasn't the official market day. We seemed to miss those repeatedly. However, on this day a hundred or so Hamer were in attendance.

Appearance-wise, the women are quite striking. Like the Mursi, the women are bare-breasted but they adorn themselves with a lot of bead work, animal furs, feathers, necklaces of seashells, and copper or aluminum (tin?) bracelets. Men and women have shorter than shoulder length hair that have been done up in dreads. The women have gone further by dying their locks red with a combination of read earth and oil, giving their hair a sheen.

The men are quite tall and sinewy. Tough and warrior-like, Adi says they live well into their 80's or 90's. Woman are much slighter in stature, averaging 5 ft in height. They too had hard bodies. Quite noticeable on backs of the women were raised scars or tattoos. Sharp implements are used to break the skin and a substance like charcoal is rubbed into wound for colour.

When it came to photos, like their other Omo brethren, they sure weren't shy about asking for payment. They wanted 2 birr per but I said hell no. The weren't exactly Mursi. Regardless, I was getting tired of paying for photos. I ended up taking 6 or 7 photos. It's like shopping. I hate shopping. I was more interested in looking at some of the goods (agricultural stuff like grains, roots, and tubers) that were up for sale.

Later in the day, we went to a nearby Hamer village for a visit. Surprisingly, not a pleasant experience at all. I was invited to enter a house by a lady. Adi was there to translate but she refused to answer a simple question like how many kids she had. Ok, she has the right to clam up. She was more interested in demanding 5 birr for cleaning her tiny hut before my entering. Yikes...

Then some guy, the gatekeeper I guess, tears a strip off Adi for taking me into the village without paying. Tough to do so when there was no one at the gate to collect. Well, it just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Me and the boys decided not to attend the moon dance that night. Just as well.

I think I need to leave Omo soon.

Out of Canuckistan: A travel blog, Mar 22/07
Buy Bubba a Beer Now!


Steve H. said...

Sounds like these people don't like being intruded on, so they demand cash as compensation. I like it! The free market in action! What they really need though is a big ass highway to bring more development, tourism and maybe some new residents.

bubba said...

free market it was. they just have to work on the PR and customer relations.

Steve H. said...

Baby steps.