|Sunday 22nd July - Ethiopia - Turmi
Konso is a small town with very little to recommend it. We stayed at the Edget Hotel, camping the tent in the courtyard and making use of one of the hotel rooms for shower and toilet. Principles for using the squat toilet were written on the toilet wall in Amharic and English see the photo below (I think SOFT must be a brand of loo paper).
The road from Konso to Turmi is very varied, first twisting up and down through green hills, then dropping to a large open plain where scrub and bushes grow, driving over dry river beds and up into the hills again. The people also change along the length of this route becoming more and more tribal-looking the further you drive.
We bought a few things from the children on the roadside today some red beads and some little handmade dollies for the girls. There are a lot less people around in this part of Ethiopia, so it is easier to stop and buy things without being completely crowded out.
The journey from Konso to Turmi took us about 4.5 hours and we arrived in Turmi in the early afternoon. We stayed at the Evangedi Campsite, which was a lot better than the previous nights accommodation. The girls had fun at the campsite in the afternoon playing with a couple of local children.
One of the men at the campsite offered to take us to visit a nearby Hamer village to watch a traditional Hamer dance. At first this sounded like a great idea, but then after eating dinner we all felt a bit lazy, so we tossed a coin to decide whether we go to the village or not and the decision was, yes we go the village. By the end of the night we were very glad the toss went that way.
The walk to the Hamer village was just 1km or so, up the road and off on paths through the scrub for a bit. Only one other couple were there from the outside world to see around. It was fascinating to see the Hamer people. They were very friendly and open, especially delighted to see Keziah and Naomi. Their way of life is now obviously open to influence from people outside their tribe, but for the moment they remain very traditional. What we saw was not put on for tourists it was simply how they lived. They dont wear their traditional dress for the sake of people with cameras, they just wear what they always have worn. It felt like an absolute privilege to meet them and see them on their turf. The Hamer dance was good to see and Naomi amused everybody by running over to join in.
We had heard that some of the Omo tribes ask for money aggressively and persistently, but our experience with the Hamer was not at all negative. We paid them for the visit to their village and to view the dance, but other than that we were free to wander and take photos and we felt very welcome. Having children often breaks the ice with people and the Hamer were no different. At one point a woman came up to me carrying her little boy (probably aged about 1). She leant forwards and kissed Naomi on the cheek. Naomi recoiled from the kiss, squealing in disapproval. I then leant forward to kiss her little boy on his cheek and he immediately burst out crying. Everyone around, both Western and Hamer. burst out in laughter, enjoying the shared joke. It was a lovely moment.
Other special moments were when one of the women came up to us with her little boy a 7month old baby, but much smaller than we would expect for that age of baby. She wanted to hold one of our girls, but they were both too shy to go with her, so Jane held her little baby instead. As Andrew and I walked away we were sure we could hear Janes ovaries clapping!! Jane then said she would maybe come back to adopt.. and with that two little children ran up and took hold of her hands. They walked along with Jane until they came to the turn-off for their homes, when they ran off in the gathering darkness, waving and smiling.
We came back just so happy that wed gone. Were all now really looking forward to the market tomorrow in Turmi.