We left Awash NP and we were on our way towards Omo Valley. The road we took seemed to be less touristy. We didn’t meet many travelers and for example we paid only 80 Birrs for a lovely room in one of the small hotels in Nazret. This is a funny thing about Ethiopians – Firstly we asked how much it would be for staying in a car on their courtyard and they said 100 Birrs, but when we asked how much was for a double room, they said 80 Birrs and parking free… No logic, but the room was seriously cosy, even there was no running water.
Our destination was a small town called Konso. We were very interested in visiting people from various tribes. Omo valley is one of those places which is inhabited by colourful people with many traditions. We took the road through “lake district”, but we really didn’t stop at any of those lake. We have heard that swimming is safe only in Lake Langano as it is one Ethiopia’s few lakes have been declared bilharzia free. Even though waters of Lake Langano are brown, it is worth to get wet.
On our way to Konso we met so many different people. They were so curious of us, of our car and what we have inside Rusty. Lots of kids were doing lots of tricks to pay our attention. Some of them were standing up side down, some of them were dancing, some of them just smiling and waving. Some people were trying to sell some things, like unknown to us food or wooden, handmade riffles (which from far looked like real)
Roads in Southern part of Ethiopia are less tarred, but still 2WD is still able to drive through. Some parts of roads were though ( especially when we needed to cross over flooded areas), but still we managed to drive without any car damages.
Before Konso we saw a sign and road, which were leading to Turmi, but unfortunately the road was in horrible condition! It was too corrugated and driving 10k/h wasn’t promising. We stayed for a night at some sort of the rest place in Weyto – we were camping in Rusty at their premises.
Photos of our “camping site” and surrounding and local kids
Towards Konso – finally tarred road again:D
We have heard that actually road to Jinka is tarred, however someone told us that we wouldn’t be able to drive through due to many uphills and steep down-hills …To be honest most of the time Rusty was on the second gear and max speed we reached was 40k/h (at some distances people were walking faster.), but we still managed to drive without overheating the engine. Moreover, due to driving really slowly, we seriously could admire that part of Omo Valley. We met again lots of beautiful and colourful tribe people and we were stopped by lazy moving herds of cows (Very often those herds of cows were grazed by local children, who didn’t know how to react seeing us: usually they were waving towards us, but time to time, kids were standing without any movement and staring on us like on extraordinary phenomenon or they were running away leaving cows on the middle of the road!)
After few hours we finally reached Jinka – place where tarred road ends, and dirt track welcomes you. Generally Jinka is set in hills above some National Parks. It is a really small town with limited services, but it has its own airport, which looks like grazing ground for cows and goats, but still ..it is an airport. This place is famous for its Saturday market (we have been on the market, but it was no on Saturday), where different ethic group coming to buy/sell/exchange various things. We also have visited the Fruit Market, where you can get delicious passion fruit also known as a „fashion fruit”
In Jinka we also visited South-Omo Museum and Research Center, which provides an great overview of the unique material culture of the various ethnic groups living in South Omo ( objects exhibited range from clothing and adornment, to household items, ritual paraphernalia, music instruments ). The museum cost 30 Birrs/International person and is worth to visit. We have learnt how different traditions ethnic groups can have, even though they live in the same area.
Some interesting facts:
For example in Dassanetch marriage can be settled through negotiation by the parents ( for instance girl is promised to the boy, when she is still very young) or when a boy and a girl fall in love with each other and just run away without the permission of their parents.
In Hammar mostly marriage is settled by negotiations (“..the boy’s family asks for the girl by bringing gifts to the girl’s family..”), however sometimes men marry girl by force „..the man will ask the butter man to rub his hand and the girl’s hand with cow dung by force. Even if the girl’s parents have not given permission, the marriage will be scaled and cannot be dissolved any more”).
In Kara ethic group no one can force the girl into marriage („a man must always ask the father of the girl first. There is no robbery in Kara..”), however bride hood for these girls is tough („…your husband makes you suffer. He beats you with his whip. His mother supports you, but still is hard..”).
In Jinka we also had one of the best ingera ever. We went to a very local restaurant and that food was amazing and so fresh! Charlie basically ate raw meat (berbera), and he enjoyed plus he was absolutely fine after!
Jinka is also one of those places where the person of Barack Obama is very cultivated. It looks that President of USA is a very significant icon for Ethiopians as not only they wear Obama T-shirts or have his pictures on the walls at homes, but also they also name their businesses after him (More examples in future posts)
We didn’t stay in Jinka overnight – we decided to head towards Turmi. We were told that the road leading to Turmi from Key Afar was in much better condition than the road from Weyto. And actually it was true. It was still gravel road, but it looked that it was freshly done and we had a really „smooth” drive. On our way we met lots of people from Hammar tribe. Some of them didn’t mind when we were taking photos, actually they were happy seeing themselves on camera screen…
After few hours we managed to arrive to Turmi… and there was a nice surprise waiting for us:D…..
It looks that Turmi is a touristy place as there were plenty of campings. We had chosen Evangadi Lodge and Campsite– the place offers a variety of accommodation and facilities (hotel rooms, tents for rent and restaurant), but to get there we needed to cross a dry river bed and avoid getting stuck in the sand. Since we arrived and asked for the price, the guy at the reception told us that actually our friends just arrived…We were confused, who was he talking about, but after a while we noticed familiar 4×4 Toyota – Terri’s and Johnny’s car. Totally accidentally we picked up the same camping. Campsite was rather expensive in comparison to what we were paying before for accommodation in Ethiopia (200 Birrs for 2 people and the car/ night) , but it was really nice and we decided to stay as also we already had a great company.
Turmi is a tiny little place surrounded by plenty of Hammer villages. On Monday Hammer people come to Turmi and spend time on its famous market. Market is definitely place where everybody should come, even for a while. Women with their shimmering coppery-coloured tresses sell vegetables, spices, butter milk and traditional items (head stools, calabashes, metal arm bracelets and goat skin decorated with beads and cowrie shells…). To us it looked like the market was divided into two parts. First part was surrounded by a fence and prepared rather for tourists – We had never asked about prices there but I guess they were rather “touristy”. Second part of the market rather looked like the place where Hammer people were changing goods with each other or with people from different tribes.
This part of market looked more authentic. We also managed to buy for a 70 Birrs amazing goat skin with colourful beads and shells. This market is also a place where local people can interact with tourists. We also noticed that Hammar people try to get money from tourists in many ways, for instance a 10 years old girl came to us and asked wheter we wanted to take photo of her..when we said: “yes”, she added that it would cost us 1 Birr…Kids observe adults and they learn very quickly following their examples.
When we were coming back from the market, we heard two girls already prepared for bull jumping, singing and dancing…They noticed us and did little show to us. We wanted to give them few Birrs, but we didn’t have any left. I remembered that I had 1 US dollar in my rucksack and we decided to give them that note, but surprisingly…they didn’t know what was that? What currency! We were seriously really surprised as we though that everyone in the world is able to recognise American dollars. It proved that we were mistaken. Hammer girls followed us to the campsite, where the manager of the place exchanged that US dollar for them! I probably will never forget how happy they were, when they got 15 Birrs in exchange for one, unknown to them banknote…
SOME FACTS ABOUT HAMMER!
• They are agropastoralistists, who cultivate: sorghum,vegetable, millet, tobacco and cotton
• Wild honey is important part for their diet
• They are known for their hairstyles (they put on their hair a mixture of ochre, water and binding resin) They twist strands many times to create a coppery-coloured tresses known as goscha, which is a sign of health and welfare
• If men have killed recently dangerous animal, they are permitted to clay hair buns (sometimes they are also supported by ostrich feathers ). Those buns lasts from 3 to 6 months
• Every piece of body decoration or jewellery has a symbolic importance.The women wear iron coils around their arms and bead necklaces, plus decorate their skin with cowrie shells. The point of iron torques around the necks of engaged or married women indicate the prestige of their husband.Unmarried girls wear a metal plate in their hair. The iron bracelets and armlets show the wealth and social standing of the young woman’s family (After a marriage she must remove all of the jewellery – this is a gift to her new family). In terms of men, for instance, number of earnings denote the amount of wives they have.
• Hammers are also masters of body decoration: body painting and scarification– it allows them not only express a great artistry, but also serves important social and cosmetic purposes. For most tribes scarification is a distinction for brave warriors (For woman, the raised texture of the skin is very desirable and it holds sensual value for men; men cannot scarify themselves, till they have killed at least one enemy)
Bull Jumping is one of those tribe ceremonies, which are really associated with Hammer people. It is process of whipping, teasing, screaming and a whole lot of leaping, but it is a traditional passage into manhood for young boys. Each naked boy taking part has to leap down the line of (up to) 30 lined up side by side bulls, jumping from back to back. If they fall down, they are whipped and teased by women. If they succeed they need to turn around and repeat the task three times. During the ceremony young women, who are relatives of the boys, beg to be whipped (the deeper scars, the more love they show for their boy).
In some other countries, tribes’ ceremonies are presented and “played” only for tourists, their real significance is gone, but for Hammer people, Bull Jumping is really serious issue. It seems that they are doing all of those things for themselves, they don’t do shows for foreigners, which make those events really authentic.
Bull Jumping as a tourism experience is rather expensive. It cost 400 Birrs per person and Charlie needed to go with the local guide as other way it was difficult to see the ceremony.
This post is more about the photos and hopefully you will enjoy it:)
Preparation for actual bull jumping
Coming back to villages
Short video of the Bull Jumping Ceremony