At the market

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

A warm welcome to the market

Traditional jewelry

Traditional jewelry

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

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

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

Me, with a local gentleman

Making new friends...

Making new friends...

… LOTS of 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

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

Walking with Haile, our guide

Joshua, Franck and me

Joshua, Franck and me

Adrian, laughing

Adrian, laughing

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

Vendors at the Market

Young girl selling spices

Young girl selling spices

A cigarette maker

A cigarette maker

The local tobacco industry

The local tobacco industry

Special delivery

Special delivery

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

Me in the boat with our Crocodile Market guide, who carries a gun - just in case

An enormous crocodile in the distance

An enormous crocodile in the distance

Peeking hippos, who can be seen with as many as 14 other companions

Peeking hippos, who can be seen with as many as 14 other companions

Joshua and our guide with the gun

Joshua and our guide with the gun

Baboons along the road to the Crocodile Market

Baboons along the road to the Crocodile Market

Baboon, checking us out

Baboon, checking us out

More baboons!

More baboons!

Cute baboon butt

Cute baboon butt

Up next:  our return to Addis Ababa and our work at ICASA 2011 🙂

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