(11) Dasanech child, although I wonder how authentic the bottle tops are

Did I say there was very little between Key Afar and Turmi? Between Turmi and Omorate there is even less – except for birds! In the dense savannah we see plenty of Guinea Fowl, and another walking bird, don’t know the name, and in the trees carmine bee-eaters and a whole range of other colourful birds fight for camera attention – once again, it is almost like a Mursi village!

(1) Guinea Fowl, plenty of them – could well, on occasion, be used as surrogate chicken on the menu (without telling you, of course)

(2) and another walker, perhaps the Arabian Buster?

(3) but really, the most fun are the colourful birds, and especially if they agree to pose together!

(4) more colourful birds, a woodpecker

(6) oleander trees bring some colour

The other feature of the landscape is the termite hills. Everywhere, they reach for the sky, like chimneys, sometimes higher than the surrounding trees. The only colour, apart from the birds, is provided by Oleander trees, some enormous, and many in full bloom.

(5) the termite hills, as chimneys rising from the earth

Omorate is a village you cannot miss, if only because it is at the end of the road, on the Omo River. The village itself is not much, despite its dual carriage way main street, but the reason to come to Omorate is to visit a Dasanech village, another tribe of this region, numbering perhaps 6000-7000 people, of which the most accessible 500 live just across the river, in a small hamlet. And Dasanech are indeed a culture on their own, although during the day it is mostly women and girls, and some old men that are present. In terms of cloths, they do not wear much, but body decoration is splendid, and very creative. An older woman has a head-dress of bottle openers, whilst the young girls have used the tops of soft drink bottles for their own head cover. Beads galore, necklaces, bracelets, the whole garamut. Sadly, I somehow have the impression that much of this is in response to tourist interest, the sillier you make your outfit, the more likely they are to take your picture– going rate two birr. And while not as insistent as the Mursi, they are really only hanging around to be photographed, and they make sure you know it.

(10) and the people themselves

(12) an old men, authenticity of his decorations questionable

Many of these girls should be in school, of course, but here only boys go to school, or so I am told by our guide (I wonder whether even this is true, given the number of young boys playing in the river, but anyhow). I don’t think any of my well-meant arguing why girls should go to school, too, will change the situation in the short term, the tourist business is simply too lucrative (just crossing the river, in a dug-out canoe, cost 3 US$ each!; and there are 20-25 photogenic girls lined up at the canoe landing place). In the long term, I hope, and I think, this culture will slowly die an inevitable death. Living in the very basic conditions that these people live in is not really necessary anymore, in 2012. But everybody will choose their own priorities. The few men we talk to in the village all follow the British Premier League Soccer on television. They all think Arsenal is on the wrong track, and should sack the manager. As I said, a matter of priorities.

next: the Karo in Kolcho

(13) cows being watered in the river – the only permanent source of water here

(14) a woman making her way in between the cows

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