To Turmi - Day 5 of 10 - Omo Valley trip
Trip Start Jun 24, 2005
29Trip End Nov 01, 2005
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Today's drive is on a very remote sandy road through the park so Fuad convoys with another 4X4 (one with two Spanish tourists and their driver) in case either car gets stuck.
Fuad has asked around and knows there will be a total of 10 cars taking the same route today. These guys really know what they are doing.
We drive about 3-4 hours to the villages of the Karo people.
It is noticeable that during most of this drive we don't see a single person or domestic animal. Previously no matter how remote we felt, we see the occasional person walking or tending animals. It could be the Park has been very effective at keeping the people and their domestic animals out. Or it could be we are in a seriously remote and desolate place?
We reach the Omo River, which has created this remote valley, the goal of our trip. We drive along beside the Omo which is about half a kilometer wide and with muddy brown water.
Under some shade trees I see an old woman and three kids eating yellow fruit. I ask for a taste. Hoping these people are less business-oriented than the Mursi I don't ask 'how much' when asking to take a photo.
So I finally realize at this point that every interaction with the natives --every single one-- is going to be a negotiated pay-per-view experience. Fine, I adjust my expectations accordingly.
I pick two cute kids (three to four years old) nearby for a photo. We agree one Birr each (normal union rate for children under 15 for an on-location shoot of less than ten minutes). I line up the photo and just before I snap they shout, "2-2-2". We had already agreed one and I'm not going to be extorted. I look for other children. As I look, these two relent and again agree one Birr each. I line up the photo and they do it again "2-2-2". I find two other honest children, snap their picture and pay them one Birr each.
I truly think many of the "images of normal life" we are seeing as we walk through the village are posed photo opportunities ( two girls side by side making flour; lady laughing joyfully with baby at entrance to her hut, etc.). But this is OK... it is honest modelling work, no different to Hollywood or Disneyland. Much better than the mass greetings when we arrive at some villages (ie pushiest one gets the photo gig) and desperate frenzied pleas when we leave.
We drive on for a few hours to our first village of the Hamar people. As we drive up about ten women and children are singing and dancing in a line (great way for them to ensure a car doesn't just drive by). This is the best visit yet because my issue of who-to-give-the-gifts-to is solved..... there is a school and we meet the teacher. We give him the pens and soaps to give to people as he sees fit.
We drive on to Turmi, an interesting town because both "regular" people and Hamar people live there, creating an unusual social dynamic.