Colorful Thursday Key Afer Market

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

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Where I stayed
Jasmine Pension
What I did
Key Afer Market

Flag of Ethiopia  , And People's Region,
Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oh, let's see.  Nothing unusual this morning.  I was riding in car #2 -they now have numbers - with Girmay today with Jillie, Anne & Esther.  We made several stops I think - first we stopped in town for internet and banking.  I paid a mere 4 birr for around 10 minutes of internet.  I managed to cancel my reservation at Hotel Damu and get a full refund - so says Expedia.  I tried to email family members via my road runner account and facebook.  The roadrunner just cranked and timed out.  Facebook needed some extra security questions and I was afraid to stay on because we were supposed to be back at the cars - of course we all weren't.  It is too bad I couldn't contact my family!

Next we stopped in Konso to pick up the cook and his kitchen supplies.  We parked in a lot with a cafe.  I followed some others who made a short walk up the hill while we were followed by quite a number of people trying to sell things.  Some enterprising young people had a toy Konso Sony TV with a picture of President Obama and his wife among other things.  I almost would have bought one if I could have figured out how to transport it without damaging it.  I left after taking a few pics.  Some others stayed out there.  Sue said some of the local people were getting upset and I said that I would be upset too if tourists treated me like an object and not a human being....something similar to animal in a zoo.  In any case, I am still very uncomfortable taking photos of people, especially if they don't want me to.  If I know they don't want it - I won't.

I can't remember now if we made any more stops.  Just as those of us in our car were wondering when we would be getting to the Key Afer market, Girmay announced that we had arrived.  It was now past 1:30 pm.  So Kibrom walked with us down into the market.  It was really quite extraordinary:  most of the people were dressed in their traditional attire.  I couldn't really distinguish the different peoples:  Ari, Bena, Hamer and Tsemay.  My notes say that there were Bena and Tsemay people here today.  The women wore bead jewelry, some had very extensive braiding, some with red clay coloring in their hair, and they had the special woven materials or outfits made from skins and some had calabash headwear.  The men - and I mostly saw young men dressed in traditional attire - wore what looked like very short skirts ... in plaid materials mostly.  Some had beads and some had broad white things as earrings.  Heads were shaven in designs and feathers twisted into the headdresses.  Of course, we wanted to photograph all the interesting variety of styles.  Kibrom said it was OK to take photos of the market in general but we might have to pay for individual people.  We found that demand for payment was quite high.  At first I avoided trying to photograph any of the men - they looked kind of disdainful of tourists I thought. 

A young man named Thomas attached himself to me even though I attached myself to Esther to avoid harassment.  As I went around, Thomas would comment about the various tribes and customs and shoo away little kids.  He told me several times that it was OK to take photos of people even when they seemed to be objecting.  I got into trouble more than once.  A few times I paid for some photos - usually I tacked mine on to someone else's. Thomas tried to explain the differences between the peoples but I began to get lost with the different colors.  The women with the cowrie shells were one and I thought the people with the red & blue beads were another.  Later someone said the cowrie shells were the married women and the beads, the single women.  In any case, I managed to get a lot of general shots of the market with some individual shots of mostly women and some men.  One young man gave me and Thomas a hard time and then, as I was leaving and had taken a few photos of a young man with a feather headdress, he gave me a hard time.  I kind of mixed up the time before and after lunch since we went back to the market after our cook made us lunch in a building off the main street up from the market.

We had driven through a lot of lovely landscapes before arriving at the Key Afer market and then after as well.  The landscape has changed rather dramatically since yesterday - mostly in vegetation since it was still hilly/mountainous.  Today we saw more terraced fields, some plants along the road that looked like large sedum but most likely weren't.  There were some lovely blue flowering vines like morning glories and some trees with yellow/orange flowers.  There were lots of thatched huts and little storage huts.  After we left the market, we could see many of the young men dressed in traditional clothes making their way home from the market along the road.  There were some young boys on stilts along the road - we tried to snap photos but Girmay didn't stop and the boys were angry at not getting any money.

In most ways it was a great day - great scenery, market was very colorful with all sorts of special things to see - the honey or tej (honey mead) with bees flying around the top of the container, tobacco for chewing, handicrafts, the people's traditional dress - fruits and vegetables.  If I hadn't had the agenda to take photos of people, I think it would have been totally positive.  Yet, the stress of displeasing people and yet not being able to get many good shots because of the limitations of paying people.  Not that I don't think people deserve to be reimbursed for something they are providing - this came to Thomas as well since he wanted reimbursement.  I ended up giving him some money and he also tried to get some from Esther and Doris.  Doris went to ask Kibrom how much she should give Thomas since she hadn't asked for him to accompany her.  Rather than insulting him by giving him next to nothing, Kibrom said it is better to say "Thank you for your information," or whatever, and give nothing.  Tipping is always a dilemma for me.

What was so amazing about this market experience was its authenticity I believe.  Even though we tourists changed the market - and there were more of us than just our group - people coming to the market were coming for the most part to buy and sell things for themselves:  the produce, the coffee and honey mead, the beads, fabrics, calabashes, even the carved stools/headrests.  I saw quite a few young men with a stool tucked up somewhere.  Maybe half the local people were in traditional dress and half in Western dress.  I have to say - I think the traditional dress has a lot more going for it.  I love the beads and the raggedy hems of the skin skirts, plus the short wraps the young men wore certainly showed their well-toned legs off to advantage!!

We got to the Jinka Resort but did not have reservations there.  Then we came to the Jasmine or was it Usoh Hotel and they only had 8 twin rooms so Kibrom was ready to try to find another hotel that had room for everyone.  Our group offered to double up - those who had singles - including Bev and Mick - so we wouldn't have to change.  We went off to a restaurant to eat dinner.  We'll go there tomorrow at 7 am for breakfast with our bags all packed and ready.

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