Busy Day Climaxed by Hamer Dance Celebration

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

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Where I stayed
Cascade Campsite
What I did
Hamer Market
Dasenech of Omorate
Hamer Dance Celebration for Bull Jumper

Flag of Ethiopia  , And People's Region,
Monday, October 22, 2012

Another 7:30 am breakfast.  Today we had crepes and they were very much appreciated.  Our chef manages miracles with his meals - and he tries to provide us with some variety.

We quickly departed for the long ride to the Omorate tribe - they have three different names - but this one is the easiest for me to remember for some reason - maybe because I have seen it in writing.  We had to bring our passports because there is a passport control post before we get to the village, which is in the no man's land between Ethiopia and Kenya. 

My tolerance is getting lower.  We walked around the village and immediately were besieged and had to detach some children.  The people were quite photogenic but very aggressive in their demands.  They followed us saying "photo, photo" and then grabbed at our arms or clothes, stood in front of us - all sorts of tactics to "entice" or bully us into taking their photos.  Oh, yes, also guilt us by pointing to their babies and implying that they don't have enough food.  Most people didn't look poorly nourished, but they certainly were poor and did not have much in the way of comfort or convenience.

Many of the women had special things on their heads for their photos - baskets, pots, some with grasses - interesting and creative designs.  They also were wearing a lot of beads around their necks, bracelets on their arms and legs.   I think that they are very attractive and photogenic in their appearance.  I like the combinations of fabrics and beads.  Their hair decorations and jewelry are quite creative and becoming.  I wondered whether the baskets were special for the tourist photo ops ... I see them putting their birr bills into the baskets.  Not so much this tribe, but others have had all sorts of things in their hair and attached to their persons, like the hooks coming out of the lips of the Mursi women and the wooden sticks out of the chins of some others.

Doris was upset with me because I am easily guilted into paying more for photos and "setting a high standard and ruining it for the others."  These people were charging one and two birr for the photos - so they were less expensive than some of the other groups.  And I can't help thinking they deserve something worthwhile for their trouble.  But, I think many of us became frustrated quickly...except for Anne who just wandered around and enjoyed seeing the people and the village.  I think that may be the best way.  I keep saying that, but can't seem to keep from wanting to take photos anyway.

On our way back we stopped off at the Hamer market.  We had to be careful here in taking general shots and making sure we didn't have any individuals although they could easily walk into the photo.    In this market, they were selling a lot of grain and some leaves - chat maybe, or tobacco.  Another section had jewelry and crafts - like the wooden statues and the carved wooden combination stool/head rests which were popular purchases for our group.  I bought a few bracelets for 90 birr because they had the guinea fowl design and chicken feet.  Cute.

We came back to the campsite for lunch - it had already been a full day - and a brief rest - before the Hamer dancing.  It was part of the celebration after yesterday's bull jumping.  We arrived to see lots of goats on sticks around a fire.  Women were skinning the goats under a low canopy. 

The dancing was in a large circle of spectators where women came out, then men jumped in.  There was lots of singing and jumping - more horn blowing too.  It made quite a sound and I took some video clips with the Lumix more for the sound than the action although I did manage to capture some idea of the dancing.  We tourists - and there were other groups in addition to us - were not entirely welcomed.  We paid an entrance fee that was not trivial so I think we were hoping for a warmer welcome.  Money doesn't always pave the way.  When we tried to take photos of the roasting goats, some people got very upset.  We needed to be careful not to get too close or be too intrusive but were kind of clueless about the rules. 

Around 5:30 pm, when the dancing ended, they brought out two large bags of sorghum and an older woman mixed it with milk in several calabashes.  One man did offer us some of the mixture to eat or drink, but we were all chicken at that point.  I had taken loads of photos during the whole celebration - most are very busy with lots of people - most not looking at the camera so it will be challenging to try to pick some that can show what the celebration was like.  There were quite a few adorable young children around various members of our group - Shauneen, Esther and Pam, in particular.  I hope some of my photos of the children come out.  I had decided to use my telephoto lens and it is difficult for me to take photos of movement because I have to focus manually.

We are back now for dinner.  I expect I will go to bed shortly after dinner.

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