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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Omorate - Turmi - Buska Lodge

Itinerary - Day 16: Turmi-Omorate
In the cool morning, we will drive to Omorate to visit the Desanech (Geleb) tribal village after crossing the Omo River by boat. The Desanech are nomadic pastoralists found across the western bank of the Omo River south of Lake Turkana very close to the Kenyan boarder.  In the afternoon, we will drive to Hamer Village. The Hamer, display an elaborate and diverse selection of body decorations. They are also identifiable for their high cheekbones, elaborate custom of beads, cowries and leather, and thick copper necklaces. At the same village we will enjoy the seasonal cultural activities including the famous Evangadi (Hamer Dancing).
Buska Lodge
After making our way back from the Hamer bull jumping ceremony yesterday, we check in at the Buska Lodge in Turmi around dusk.  Sigrid was too tired to leave the room, but I made it to the dinner buffet for some soup and pasta.  The food and facilities are geared to handling larger tour groups. Showing up by myself for dinner seemed to confuse everybody.

We did not get a good look at the lodge until morning. No internet, but a decent room situated in a lush garden of flowers and tropical fruit trees. The staff was service oriented, if a bit overwhelmed at times, but all in all - it seemed like a fine lodge. Except for the fact that they poisoned me at lunch. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Turmi to Omorate

Omo River
After breakfast we drive to Omorate on the bank of the Omo River.  There we take a dugout canoe across the river to visit the Dassanech people. The Kenyan border is quite close, and this represents the Southern most point of our Omo Valley exploration.  About a kilometer downstream we can see the ruins of a bridge that collapsed mid-construction last year.  This bridge was intended to facilitate Ethiopia - Kenyan transportation.  Looks like they are trying again with a new span.

Yohanes informs us that the Dasssanech were relocated here from Kenya. According to this article, there is quite a bit more to the story, including some recent conflicts in this area of which I was previously unaware.  We knew about the Gibe III dam under construction upstream on the Omo. The potential future impact of the dam on the downstream indigenous people in this area is part of the reason we are here taking this trip now. This area is in the impact zone of the receding Lake Turkana, but it was not clear to me whether this village is directly affected.

 My initial impression is that this village is a designated tourist destination, but that was certainly not something that I was going to sort out in our brief visit. Following our usual modus operandi, Yohanes managed the subjects of Sigrid's portraiture.

Three Graces
African Gothic
We're in the lowlands now and it's getting hot. After a coffee ceremony on the banks of the Omo, we head back to the Buska Lodge for lunch and a rest to wait out the afternoon heat.

That was the plan. But at lunch I make another bad food decision.  We've been careful about food after our brush with some gastronomical problems a few days earlier. I order the "fasting injera firfir" thinking it's local, cooked, and vegetarian, so should be safe.  What I didn't think through is that this dish is traditionally consumed on Ethiopian fasting days - Wednesday and Friday. This is Sunday. Plus firfir is sometimes made from leftover injera. Plus Alxe later informs me that they never order firfir in the south.  You know - it's hot in the south - stuff sitting around goes bad fast.  Net net - I am incapacitated by full-on food poisoning for the next 20 hours or so.  This was not traveler's diarrhea. This was food poisoning. I've had both and I know the difference. The less said about that the better. 

Unlike me, Sigrid chose wisely at lunch. I insist she continue the planned photo excursion to a Hamer village, while I hunker down with my Cipro, Immodium, water and electrolyte powder.  She got some great shots:

This was my one remaining photo contribution for the day:

This guy was on the opposite wall from the toilet. We spent a lot of time looking at each other that night.

Even in my weakened state this critter looked kind of familiar to me. Then I remembered. This was a "flattie". I took a picture of one in the toilet on our first Africa Tour in 1995.  It was like finding an old friend.

Editor's Note: I intend to pre-load and schedule automated blog posts with the daily itinerary for our Ethiopian adventure. For those interested, this may be an easy way to follow along. Since we will not have internet access for most of the trip, my hope is this will make it easier to add some pics and journal commentary if and when we run across an internet connection. If there are no pics or commentary, you'll just have to wait until we get back. We'll see how it goes. 

1 comment:

Laurie said...

Happy Happy Birthday Sigrid. Hope it's the best one ever. Missing my BFF. xoxo L