Homer's Travels: 2022 Fall Travels, Part Four - Ethiopia - The Karo, The Hamer, The Dassanech, And The Mursi Tribes

Friday, December 23, 2022

2022 Fall Travels, Part Four - Ethiopia - The Karo, The Hamer, The Dassanech, And The Mursi Tribes

A man of the Karo tribe.
The Buska Lodge was … interesting.  The huts were similar to the Paradise Lodge's bungalows but they were definitely more primitive.  There were two single beds opposite of each other.  The one thing missing here was electricity.  Power was only available for a few hours in the morning and a few hours at night.  After 11:00PM it was lights out.  It was also warmer in southern Ethiopia and we kept cool in our huts with floor fans.  Unfortunately no electricity = no fans.  So when you woke up in the middle of the night it was hot and a bit sweaty.  Fortunately we were out and about most of the day, the food was good, and there was beer for the Wife.

Over the next three days we visited four tribes.  The first was the Karo.  Their village was on a highlands overlooking the Omo River.  Our guide lined up the women and then the men so we could take pictures (another awkward moment for me).  They demonstrated their face painting art.  As we left we passed a raucous group dividing up the grain harvest.

The next was the Dassanech tribe.  We visited their village of domed homes that are made of wood and mud but are more commonly built with tin now.  We saw the differences between the tribes and how their customs vary.  I purchased a handmade crocodile tooth necklace here.

Karo women distributing the harvest.

Whip scars proving
their devotion.
The third was the Hamer tribe.  This one  was very interesting but a bit disturbing.  First, when a couple marries the woman is kept in a hut for three months never venturing outside.  Food and drink are brought to her during this period and she does not have to work for her tribe.  With encouragement from our guide, and permission from the tribal elder, she was brought out where we could see her.  She did not look happy or comfortable at all as we took pictures.  It was like a reluctant sideshow act and the Wife and I felt this was very wrong.  Also disturbing was the custom of some young women to allow themselves to be whipped to prove their devotion to their families.

At the Hamer village I learned my name in their language was "Hello Photo".

A Hamer girl.
We ended up at the Eco-Omo Safari Lodge which was a step above the Buska Lodge (but not even close to the Paradise Lodge).  We could have slept in tents but they put us in newer lodge rooms which was probably for the better.

The last tribe visited was the Mursi.  The Mursi women wear the plates in their lower lips and large disks in their earlobes.  It is believed they started doing this to make themselves ugly and undesirable to slave traders.  We learned how the clay disks are made, how the lower lip is cut and stretched, and how the bottom front four teeth are knocked out so the disk fits.  The Wife left the village with twelve of the lip disks.

A Mursi woman with her lip plate.
We returned to Addis Ababa the next day.  We spent the last day  visiting the places that we couldn't visit way back on our first day.  We drove up to Mount Entoto to take in the sweeping view of Addis Ababa.  We then visited the National Museum.  Here we saw art and history including the bones of Lucy (replicas actually ... they are too precious to have the real ones out in public).  The newly renovated wing of the museum is very well done.

In the afternoon we visited an awesome store for some last minute shopping.  We ended up with a lot of treasures this trip, many from Ethiopia.  Our only rule is that we have to be able to carry them.  I will write about them in a future post.

Artwork at the National Museum.
In the evening we had a goodbye dinner at a traditional restaurant that offered live local music on stage. The food was a bit too traditional (i.e. spicy hot) for my taste but they did add some less spicy options that were to my liking.

Ethiopia was an unexpected place for me.  I'd come here with zero expectations and was surprised every day by the things I saw and experienced.

Our adventure was over.  I never really felt like I was ready to come home until the last week.  I think it is not the length of time you travel that makes you homesick but the shortening of the time left at the end that ignites those feelings.

I still have a few more 2022 Fall Travels posts in me but they will have to wait until the new year.

Pictures can be found in my Ethiopia 2022-10 Google Photos album.

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