In the Omo Valley, Ethiopia. I was exploring a Hamar village trying to take photos of village life. As I prepared to take photos, this young man automatically tried to remove his Mercedes Benz top as he assumed that I might think that the shirt wasn’t “authentic”. But I indicated to him that the shirt was OK; if that is what he normally wore then that was plenty authentic to me, and plenty interesting enough!
There are quite a few different tribes in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia, each with their distinctive customs. Here we have a portrait of a woman from the Hamar tribe. This tribe is known for their bull-jumping ceremonies, which is accompanied by women inviting the men to whip them, often bloody and leaving permanent scars, as a show of their worth, dedication, and devotion.
We headed up into the hills in our van, hoping to come across remote Padaung villages. The dirt track, however, proved too much for the poor vehicle, and we couldn’t proceed much further. There was a road construction crew that we had passed a few minutes earlier and we were able to negotiate the usage of one of their “tractors” that is normally used to haul raw materials.
We jumped into the back of the tractor, and upward and onward we went into the hills, following dirt tracks that we hoped would reach some interesting villages. Even the tractor found the going tough, and we had had to dismount several times to give the thing a fighting chance to negotiate through the rough terrain. Shake, rattle, and roll; sitting on solid metal was pretty uncomfortable!
After a while we were soon at our target, the tractor chugging its way into the centre of a Padaung village. The villagers informed us that we were the first foreigners they had seen since the British left Burma in 1948. I took that with a pinch of salt though. But the journey was worth it, as the village still practised many traditional techniques. This is a photo of a young schoolgirl from the village.
However, we were filled with dread of the return journey in that tractor.
But the pain of the return trip in the tractor was short lived as we, instead, soon ditched the tractor and hiked through the hills heading in a direction that we thought would lead us to a road. The hike was memorable as it enabled us to take in the wonderful scenery and interact more sociably with the people we met along the way. A good day!