At the market
It was a wonderful coincidence that we happened to be arriving in Jinka on a Market Day, which is a time when Ethiopian tribes travel from many kilometers away in order to buy, sell and trade their goods. We met beautiful people from the Mursi, Banna, Ari and Hamer tribes…
A warm welcome to the market
Haile, our guide while in Souther Ethiopia, told us that the traditional lip plates of the Mursi tribe were originally used to discourage men in Kenya from “stealing” the Mursi women. The tribe realized that their female population was steadily decreasing due to the “theft” of their beautiful women by Kenyan men, and so women began wearing the lip plates as a deterrent to thieves. After removing the woman’s bottom front teeth, the first (and smallest) of a series of plates is inserted into the lower lip. In order to stretch the lip, the plate is gradually replaced by plates that are larger in diameter over a period of time.
A beautiful Mursi woman
Other interesting things that we learned from Haile: children whose first teeth come up through the bottom jaw are considered to be extremely bad luck, and they are often killed if they are found to have this “defect”. Tribes in the Omo River Region do not count their age or the exact number of their populations. And it is customary for the men to receive 37 cows and a gun when they marry – men may take up to 5 wives.
Adrian and me with people from the Omo River Region
The next time I visit, I hope to be able to spend some time with people from the Bodi tribe as well. I love to eat, and so I am particularly interested in learning more about their Fattening Ceremony! As far as Haile explained it to me, it involves the consumption of milk and blood as a ritual in celebration of growth and strength.
Me, with a local gentleman
Making new friends...
… LOTS of new friends!
The following lovely ladies were so insistent upon giving me two metal bracelets to take home, but they did not slide onto my write easily while we were standing in the hot sun. As a result, they proceeded to spit onto my arm until the bracelets fit. True story.
The lovely, spitting ladies
Haile is an incredible guide and operates his business utilizing the concept of community-based tourism. He speaks English, Amharic and several of the local languages spoken in the Omo River Region. He is well versed in local customs and easily bridges the cultures of travelers and tribes native to the valley.
Walking with Haile, our guide
Joshua, Franck and me
We found some truly unique items at the Market in Jinka – Adrian found fantastic sandals made out of old truck tires; Franck bought a necklace strung with bright yellow beads and an shiny, empty turtle shell; and I bought a set of traditional Mursi lip plates.
Vendors at the Market
Young girl selling spices
A cigarette maker
The local tobacco industry
The morning after our day in Jinka, we drove back to Arba Minch and visited the Crocodile Market… which, it turns out, does not sell anything at all. This is a place where local hunters come to catch crocodiles so that they can export their skins. The crocodiles here are the largest in all of eastern Africa.
Me in the boat with our Crocodile Market guide, who carries a gun - just in case
An enormous crocodile in the distance
Peeking hippos, who can be seen with as many as 14 other companions
Joshua and our guide with the gun
Baboons along the road to the Crocodile Market
Baboon, checking us out
Cute baboon butt
Up next: our return to Addis Ababa and our work at ICASA 2011
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