Day trip to Omorate - Day 7 of 10 Omo Valley Trip

Trip Start Jun 24, 2005
Trip End Nov 01, 2005

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Sunday, October 9, 2005

Today we are making a side trip to visit the Galeb tribe. 1 1/2 hour drive each way from Turmi to their village of Omorate. To reach their village one must cross the Omo River in a dugout canoe. Not just a canoe, a real dugout made from a single hollowed out tree.

This seems to be the poorest tribe we have visited. Their huts are simply domes made of Acacia bark, not even any walls of tree trunks to provide standup space inside. We have a required local guide who explains some of the dress customs, etc. A family is posed in front of their hut like statues: granny, Mum, two kids at her holding a forked tree trunk and a third kid on top of the hut looking like a human weathervane. I try to take this "African Gothic" photo just to document the absurb poses these folks setup to generate some income. But my camera battery gives out (of course, I pretend to take it and pay them anyway, they did their job).

It is a pleasant visit even though this village lives in a sorry state. They have a school and a clinic that we see in the distance. I befriend a little boy named Nyamo who looks to be about 4-5 years old and can already say a few words in English. He can count to 10 but never learned 8 ("7, 9, 10"). So I spent out time walking around teaching him 8 (which he, at first, substitutes for 9 but soon somewhat remembers to insert). Before we canoe back I use my dead camera to fake a few more photos of old ladies and kids so they 'earn' a few Bir. I give Nyamo a few Bir 'for school'.

As I get into the canoe to leave, Nyamo surprises me by handing me back the 3 Bir. What the....?!? Then I understand... He has taken off his clothes which he's given to the canoe poler. He wants me to keep his Bir safe and dry and he's going to swim the river to show off how strong he is.

He beats the canoe across; and when we arrive he throws on his tunic and recovers his Bir from me. What a neat kid. We have lunch nearby and afterward I look for Nyamo to give him a pen (which I forgot to take to the village). He isn't around so I gave it to the village guide. Hope Nyamo gets it.

It's a bright sunny day and on the drive back we notice that there are 6-10 quite large 'dust devils' (little whirlwind tornado-y  things) visible across the plain at any given time. Not sure if this is normal but it is quite a sight.

We arrive back in Turmi at 2pm, the heat of the day, so we decide to delay heading back to our sunbaked campground and instead we head into the town's tourist restaurant. The restaurant is made in a commonly used design. It's round, open air with a tall centre pole that supports a sloping thatched roof. Mud and stick wals are built up from the ground but they stop about 2 feet short of the roof so a cooling breeze can pass right through. The circular wall is lined with wide seating covered in mats for cushioning. Locals are hanging out, toddlers snooze, tourist like us arrive looking flush with moist brows.

As we drink, Garry and Peter (the German guy touring with us) are having their usual discussion of world politics and economics when in walk two Hamar women in full tribal regalia. They are the real deal --- red beaded hair, goat skin clothing, etc. One is very pregnant.

They are served an injera lunch and we are, of course, (discretely) all eyes. They eat the lunch about twice as fast as we would; not in a rude way, but certainly not being prissy or eating dainty sized bites. The Kodak moment is when the non-pregnant one snaps a meat bone in half and spends a few minutes sucking the marrow from it. If this scene weren't real, it would look straight out of the Flintstones. You don't get a show like this back home!
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