Visit to The Mursi Village

Trip Start Oct 11, 2012
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Trip End Nov 19, 2012


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Where I stayed
Colubus Campsite
What I did
Mursi Village

Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Friday, October 19, 2012


It's only 9:30 pm and I am trying to remember what happened today. Hmmm.

Of course, we were curious about what life is like for the tribes of the Omo Valley.  We were told that the people were pretty much living on a subsistence level.  There were herds of cattle and goats, more or less of one or the other, depending on the tribe.  From these animals, the people got milk which they drank and meat.  They might grow some vegetables in small plots around the villages.  And they ate honey.  Honey is huge.  I never thought of it as an African product but
honey is really big in Ethiopia.  Hives to collect honey were pointed out to us in trees in several places and local honey is widely sold here.  Kibrom said that the men often start drinking early in the day on the local honey alcoholic beverage and may be rather tipsy later in the afternoon.  Somewhere along the like, guns were made available so that there could be local militias and the men like to carry the guns around with them, even if there isn't any ammunition in them.  It is more of a macho thing.

We left our hotel at 7:30 for breakfast in the restaurant before heading out to Mago Park and the Mursi Village.  We were still in the Rift Valley.  Along with the acacia trees were some large trees with broad leaves like rhododendron that Kibrom said were Wayback (??) trees.  The drive was quite long and the track was difficult through beautiful country with lovely grasses.  Not as rocky as the other bad road, but I hardly expected that we would be going so far - up a mountain - to the village.  We passed quite a few young men along the road and we stopped at a lookout where I spent 14 birr on photos.  We lose our perspective because it seems like more than it is - not even a dollar.

In the village the Mursi people wanted their photos taken:  5 birr for adults and 2 for children.  Kibrom had given us 50 birr in 1 birr notes but I ran out of them fairly quickly.  The women with the lip plates, unusual hair decorations, face paint and scarification were wonderfully photogenic.  Many had babies.  It was very hard to choose - and stressful.  I felt guilty of course and sorry for the less handsome or well-dressed ones that no one wanted to photograph.  Old ladies were most apt to approach me - a fellow old-timer - to take their photos.  At one point I gave up and told people over and over that I was done.  I was mimicked.  At first I was upset, but the people naturally seemed to try to repeat what we said - maybe it was not meant to be insulting - I will try to assume that it was not.  Then I felt silly worried about a few dollars when this opportunity would probably never present itself again, so I went back into the fray and took a few more photos, including some of men.

Most of us were exhausted and we were ready to leave even before Kibrom gave the signal.  Finally we left.  As fantastic an experience it was to see the exotic dress of the Mursi people, it was definitely exhausting.

It took quite a bit longer to backtrack to the campsite.  We settled in a bit and then Kibrom offered to take us on a walk.  It was one hour out and one back.  I got to take photos of the grasses I had seen and admired on the drive.  Kibrom identified the eggplant-like plant with poisonous yellow fruit as salami.  The fruit is used by the local people to take the flesh off hides they wish to cure.  It appears to be of the solanum family - tomato, eggplant, etc.  I must have misheard Kibrom when I came up with the salami plant.  It wasn't until the Northern Ethiopia trip that I learned my mistake - after telling Leigh and Lang that it was the salami plant when we were at the Blue Nile.

After we got back it rained and I sat in one of the Toyotas with Pam and Worku and tried to learn to count to 10 in Amharic.  Pam can do it easily.  I kept getting confused:  I finally was able to remember the words for one and two and occasionally, four.

We then had a great dinner with fried carrots, spaghetti, lentils and a fantastic vegetable soup prepared by our chef.  He had on his official chef jacket and even put on his chef hat for a moment.  I got to see some of Doris' photos and listen to Andrew's plan for his photo trip.  Now to bed.
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