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Bull jumping ceremony, a great tradition in the Horn of Africa. Before the jumping, women stand singing waiting for a man whipping them. And the more scars they have, the more beautiful they feel.

Ethiopia (Abisinia), África pura

 

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Viaje de 8 días por Ethiopia. Empezamos por el Norte, el desierto, la Depresión de Danakil, el lugar más caluroso del planeta, dominado por la etnia Afar, para posteriormente bajar al Sur, la sabana, verde, el Valle del Rio Omo, visitando diferentes etnias: Dorze, Konso, Dassanech y Hamer. Extenuante pero corto, muy corto.

 

Ethiopia (Abisinia, el Reino de Saba en la Biblia) es un lugar inhóspito y no preparado para el turismo y debes contar con una agencia que organice tu aventura (yo fui con Karibu, www.kaett.com). Ethiopia limita con países en conflicto y en los desplazamientos por el Norte, el desierto, Danakil, estarás acompañado por policía o milicianos armados, además de guía, cocinero, pinche y conductores.

 

Primer día, llegamos mi mujer y yo, a primeros de Mayo, época no turística debido al calor, a Addis Ababa, con Ethiopian Airlines, para enlazar con un vuelo regional a Makele. En Makele montamos en 4x4 para desplazarnos a Dallol, zona desértica con temperaturas de noche 26 y día 45ºC. Dormimos de acampada, al aire libre sobre camastros, junto con todos nuestros acompañantes, el viento y millones de estrellas. El calor, agobiante, Mayo no es el mejor mes para visitar Danakil. Antes de dormir vislumbramos las caravanas de camellos trasportando la sal depositada en el desierto al secarse un mar interior miles de años atrás. También visitamos las salinas infinitas, disfrutamos de una puesta de Sol con reflejos, única.

 

El segundo día visitamos la Puerta del Infierno, una zona donde la tierra expulsa compuestos de azufre continuamente y donde se han generado unos cráteres freáticos únicos en el mundo, de una extraordinaria belleza y colorido. Andábamos sobre cristales de azufre y óxidos metálicos que crujían bajo nuestros pies. Al terminar la jornada las zapatillas habían pasado a mejor vida. Siempre acompañados por un Kalashnikova AK 47. Llegar hasta allí en un 4x4 sobre las salinas infinitas, con 20 cm de agua sobre la superficie y a 10 km/h durante 2 o 3 hrs, sin llegar nunca, sin ver fondo bajo las ruedas, es uno de los muchos gratos recuerdos que nos ha proporcionado esta superaventura. Más tarde visitamos a los Afar durante su trabajo diario, cortar bloques de sal de 30x40x8 cm que se cargarán sobre los camellos para transportarlos en caravanas infinitas. Aquí todo es infinito. Trabajan bajo un Sol abrasador, pero aunque el Gobierno les ofrece mecanizar la explotación, los Afar no lo permiten, temen perder su forma de vida. Ya no sé dónde dormimos, quizás en Dodhom, donde mataron un cabrito para cenar.

 

El tercer día pretendíamos subir por la noche al Erta Ale, volcán activo con una caldera de magma en ebullición. Al llegar al campo base para gestionar permisos y más y más acompañantes, las temperaturas habían subido a 52ºC. Esta es la zona más caliente de la Tierra y el espesor de la corteza terrestre es el más estrecho de todos los continentes. De hecho esta es la zona del Rift, donde el cuerno de África se escindirá del continente en algunos miles de años. Estamos 110m por debajo del nivel del mar. Mi mujer sufrió un pequeño golpe de calor mientras tratábamos de comer algo a 52ºC y por prudencia descartamos subir al Arte Ale, lo dejamos, o mejor dicho, lo dejaré para un próximo viaje. Se suben 10Km andando por la noche durante unas 4 horas y se duerme en la caldera, tomando fotos del magma durante la noche, para bajar a primera hora de la mañana, antes de que el Sol abrase.. Así las cosas, decidimos volver a Makele (necesitábamos hotel y descanso) pero de camino visitamos un pequeño lago encantador, quizás el lago Bakili, junto a las salinas, dado que el cambio de planes no nos permitiría ya visitar el Lago Afdera de aguas color esmeralda.

 

El cuarto día, improvisando, desde Makele hicimos una visita a una de las miles iglesias en Ethiopia excavadas en la roca, donde el prior nos abrió y atendió con sumo cariño, y posteriormente visitamos la Misión del Padre Ángel, amigo Vasco que realiza una labor extraordinaria en la zona. El Padre Ángel (www. Angelolaran.com) aparenta muchos más años de los que tiene, eso es debido sin duda a una larga vida de sufrimiento. Nos invitó a comer en la misión pero tuvimos que descartarlo para volver a Makele y tomar vuelo a Addis Ababa, también queda pendiente para un próximo viaje. A la vuelta enviamos un donativo a la Misión, ese país y Ángel necesitan de toda nuestra ayuda.

 

Quinto día, desde Addis Ababa tomamos un 4x4 para desplazarnos hacia el Sur, rico en Etnias, poblados, tribus, que nos iban a enamorar. Ni que decir tiene que a estas alturas ya me había convertido en un maestro de la fotografía en desplazamiento, a 80 Km/h en 4x4 se obtienen, a 1/2000s, unas fotografías impagables, las carreteras están llenas de vida y de color. Por la tarde llegamos a Arba Minch, donde habitan los Dorze, a una cota de 3.200m , en sus casas de bambú. Las chozas, de unos 40m2 pueden incluso transportarse con ayuda de 60 personas cuando las termitas se comen la base de sus troncos. Tienen la apariencia de la cabeza de un elefante. Esa noche dormimos en el Paradise Lodge, recomendable, en una cabaña con vistas a los lagos Abaya y Chamo. Estábamos muertos, no hice fotos de la vía láctea y no me lo perdonaré nunca, pero conseguí unos amaneceres únicos.

 

Sexto día, de nuevo en 4x4 y 1/2000s. Nos desplazamos a las tierras altas donde habita la Etnia Konso, en el rio Segen. Los Konso son la tribu más organizada y han sido reconocidos como Patrimonio de la Humanidad por Unesco. Un ejemplo, la piedra de la verdad, donde ante el Consejo del Pueblo ningún vecino se atrevería a mentir influenciado por un temor ancestral a sufrir los peores males como consecuencia de mentir mientras se está de pie sobre esa piedra. La visita a su poblado es indescriptible, una sociedad muy avanzada con un nivel jerárquico bien asumido y una socialización envidiable. Después, desplazamiento a la zona de Turmi, donde empezamos a cruzarnos con los Hamer, pintados con barro en el pelo y acompañados de collares de conchas. Dormimos en el Busca Lodge, con generador eléctrico que arranca de 6 a 9, eso sí, por la mañana y por la noche.

 

Séptimo día, cruzando el rio Omo en piragua (tronco de árbol vaciado) para visitar a los nómadas Dassanech. ¡Qué encanto!. Nos recibieron con sus bailes y pasamos la mañana de su mano, sí, nos llevaban de la mano mientras nos enseñaban su poblado. Sus poblados se caracterizan por el uso de chapa de lata para cubrir sus chozas, ese material que les han traído los Dioses les permite que la vida de su choza se alargue por varios años, además de mantenerlas secas, maravillas de la tecnología. Unos globos y caramelos son el regalo más apreciado por los niños. Por la tarde visita al mercado de Turmi, donde los Hamer y otras tribus se dan cita para intercambiar sus productos (grano, ganado, madera trabajada,...). Más tarde, casi a la puesta de Sol visitamos un poblado Hamer. De chozas con vallado para los animales. Igual de encantadores que los Dassenech, solo nos atendieron los niños, los adultos vienen andando desde el mercado de Turmi. Los niños te piden 5 Birs (0.20€) por cada foto que les haces (íbamos armados con fajos de billetes de 5, claro), el capitalismo está llegando para quedarse. Sonrisas y bromas continuamente, inolvidable. De nuevo al hotel con acotado horario para la ducha.

 

Octavo día, 4x4 a Arba Minch y vuelo regional a Addis Ababa, con shopping y cena étnica para tomar vuelo de nuevo para Madrid (Ida y vuelta nocturna).

 

Algún bajón de tensión, golpes de calor, catarros por el A/A del 4x4, diarrea (posiblemente el contacto con los billetes viejos contaminados con todo tipo de gérmenes), pero desde ya, contando ansioso los días que faltan para volver de nuevo. Bendita África pura.

 

380 imágenes para enmarcar y el 24-120mm muerto, no enfoca, directamente a Nikon...

 

Ethiopia, tribes, Suri girl, seen in a village near Koka.

 

Effect: Lomo filter

 

Blog: Dietmar Temps, travel photography

Website: Dietmar Temps, photography

The Hamar (or Hamer) is a catlle herder tribe which lives on the Eastern side of the Omo Valley in Southern Ethiopia. Honey collection is their major activity and their cattle is the meaning of their life. There are at least 27 words for the subtle variations of colours and textures of a cattle ! And each man has three names: a human, a goat and a cow name.

The Hamar have very unique rituals such as a bull-leaping ceremony, that a young men has to succeed in order to get married. The cow jumping is an initiation rite of passage for boys coming of age in Hamar tribe. Cows are lined up in a row. The initiate, naked, has to leap on the back of the first cow, then from one bull to another, until he finally reaches the end of the row. He must not fall of the row and must repeat successfully the test four times to have the right to become a husband. While the boys walk on cows, Hamar women accompany him: they jump and sing. Totally committed to their initiated sons, the mothers are whipped to blood, in order to prove their courage and accompany their sons during the test.

The Hamar are very preoccupied with their beauty. They have at times spectular haidresses.

Men use a wooden head rest which prevents the hair from touching the ground. You can see them walking with it everywhere ! It is used as head rest to protect the clay wig that some do on the top of the head, but it is also usefulas a seat ! Even if there is a chair close to them, they prefer to use the head rest !

Women know many ways to do their hair. The most famous hair style is when their hair is in short tufts rolled in ochre and fat or in long twisted strands. These coppery coloured strands are called "goscha", it's a sign of health and welfare.

They also wear bead necklaces, iron bracelets around their arms, and decorate their breast with lots of cowry shells, like a natural bra.

Around married women's necks, you can see "esente": torques made of iron wrapped in leather. These are engagement presents; they are worn for life and indicate their husband's wealth. One of the necklaces catch more especially the attention: it is called the "bignere". It's also an iron and leather ring, which has a phallic-shape end. But this jewelry can only be worn by a man's first wife.

I remember a woman I have met. On her neck, there were three necklaces. According to what I just explained about the bignere, the biggest one at the top means she was "First Wife". This is important, as her statut is the higher one in Hamer society. But as she has two more simple necklaces around her neck: that means her husband took two more wives... The Hamar women who are not first wife have a really hard life and they are more slaves than wives... During my trip, I could see some of these women, working like slaves for the men: their skin were covered with clay, butter and animal fat... So they were a little scary ! Another thing to know about these women: the more scars one has on her back, the higher is her status.

The young unmarried girls, for their part, wear a kind of oval shape plate, in metal. It is used like a sunshield, but it tends to be rare in the tribe. Some of them have fund their future husband, but have to wait in their house until the so-called prentender can provide all the money for the ceremony: he has to pay for all the cows the bride-to-be's family asks for. These girls are called "Uta" and have to wait three months, entirely covered with red clay... And no right to take baths or showers ! They cannot go out of the house, let alone the village.That's why it is very rare to see or take a photo of a Uta. A cruel tradition still has currency for some Hamar: unmarried women can have babies to test their fertility, but some of them are just abandonned in the bush. This tradition tends to disapear but NGO still save abandonned new borns. Abandonments are all the more frequent than some Hamar believe that a child born out of formal marriages has "mingi", as to say something abnormal and unclean. For them, it is the expression of the devil, which may cause disasters such as epidemics or drought in the village. So, illegitimate children are abandoned. This kind of beliefs can also be observed in other Ethiopan tribes: many parents prefer to sacrifice their own child rather than risk being affected by the evil eye.

Something left me a really strong impression in Africa: football is of the highest importance, even in the most remote places !

I remember a boy, who was living several days-walk from the Turmi market. But as most of the young Hamar, he came there to watch football on television ! This guy was wearing a Chelsea tee-shirt, but still had to jump over ten bulls to be able to marry a girl in his tribe: a real culture shock! They are all really into Chelsea, Arsenal... such as many Ethiopians, who are just crazy about English football, because the national TV brodcasts every single match ! So, while I was in deep South Ethiopia, I still could ask “did Arsenal win?”, and always had an accurate answer: the score, the name of the scorers, etc...Strange, but true ! Meantime, the world economic crisis was at its high ! Even if you do not speak their language, you can exchange with those guys with few words like “Ribery, Thierry Henry, Drogba", etc. ! Of course, all the tribes do not go into this village, and only the ones who are not too far have this passion.

Other special feature in these tribes: their relation to the photos. I remember a day, in a restaurant in Dimeka -not to say the only one around there. I made a polaroid of a Hamar couple. The man was angry because, as he said, "the colors were not good" ; he threw the picture away. But the lady finally let him go, and took the picture with her ! It' was not the first time those people, from remote areas, do not have any pictures of themselves and so are very demanding about the quality of the picture they are on! For instance, the Mursi do not understand why the picture do not have their own real size !

Besides, it is not so easy to get smiles in this area. First, because people work really hard and second, because it is very difficult to share anything with them as we are seen as walking wallet with cameras !

 

© Eric Lafforgue

www.ericlafforgue.com

     

The Karo tribe is a tribe that lives in the south of the Omo Valley on the banks of the Omo river.

They use the river to grow crops like sorghum, maize and beans.

They use white river clay to make themselves beautifull or to prepare for ceremonies.

 

© Steven Goethals

 

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Ethiopia, woman from the Hamer tribe at a traditional dance in a village near Turmi, Lower Omo Valley

 

Blog: Dietmar Temps, travel blog

Website, gallery: Dietmar Temps, photography

 

Dietmar Temps

www.dietmartemps.de

The Karo tribe is a tribe that lives in the south of the Omo Valley on the banks of the Omo river.

They use the river to grow crops like sorghum, maize and beans.

They use white river clay to make themselves beautifull or to prepare for ceremonies.

 

© Steven Goethals

 

Join me on Facebook

 

The Hamar tribe is a tribe that lives in the south of the Omo Valley.

They are cattle herders but also grow some crops. As many other tribes they use scarification to make

themselves beautiful.

Scarring their bodies and packing the wounds with ash and charcoal.

The Hamar are well known for the "bulljump". A rite of passage where a young man has to jump a line of cattle to become a man.

 

© Steven Goethals

 

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Korcho village, south Ethiopia. The karo boy was surprised cos i asked him to be sit to take his picture..White men have strange rituals!

Like many tribes in Ethiopia, Mursi, Surma etc, most of the men shave their head.

  

© Eric Lafforgue

www.ericlafforgue.com

Photo taken of two rivers meeting during rainy season from an Ethiopia Airlines plane

It's strange, but in many countries, like India or Ethiopia, poverty makes nice pictures...

 

© Eric Lafforgue

www.ericlafforgue.com

Preparación para la Donga

Ethiopia, the priest lives on an island on Lake Tana

 

Dietmar Temps

www.dietmartemps.de

The Karo tribe is a tribe that lives in the south of the Omo Valley on the banks of the Omo river.

They use the river to grow crops like sorghum, maize and beans.

They use white river clay to make themselves beautifull or to prepare for ceremonies.

 

© Steven Goethals

 

Join me on Facebook

 

The Erbore tribe is a tribe that lives in the southwest of the Omo Valley.

They are pastoralists, measuring their wealth in terms of the amount of cattle they own.

The women wear a black cloth to cover their head and use colorful necklaces and earrings.

The children wear a calabash hat to protect them from the sun.

Another custom is bodypainting using natural products.

 

© Steven Goethals

 

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Sidama child near Yirga Alem.

 

© Steven Goethals

 

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GETTY IMAGES CONTRIBUTOR SELECTED ON DECEMBER, 2014.

Yemrehana Krestos is an 11th-century stone and wood church in northern Ethiopia, built in the Aksumite style. The church is located inside a large natural cavern on a hill, set in a spectacular landscape of juniper trees, predating the famous nearby rock-hewn churches of Lalibela by almost a century.

The Bana and the Hamer tribes are very simular. The Bana also have a bulljumping ceremony where the women are being whipped with sticks. These women realy force the men to whip them as they are proud of their scars.

 

© Steven Goethals

 

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The Mursi live in Mago National Park near Jinka. They grow crops and herd cattle. The women are famous for wearing lipplates. The Mursi also have a lot of scarifications on their bodies.

 

© Steven Goethals

 

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Bee-eaters are so very exciting to find, and to catch them eating a bee even better. Ethiopia was one of the most intriguing countries I have visited. And a thriving Northern Carmine Bee-eater(Merops nubicus) population. BIS_1012_1tc

Ethiopia

 

© 2012 Rosita So Image

sur un marché à debre libanos au nord d'addis abeba au nord de l'ethiopie rencontre avec ce jeune garçon au mileu des étals et des gens

In north Ethiopia are localet the Blue Nile Falls, which are not really spectaular, but the surroundings are stunning !!!!!!!

In the photo, 2 locals were talking near the falls and I like the contrast of the water and the colours of their clothes.

The Borana live in the area around Yabello. They are mostly muslim, but there are also some animists.

 

© Steven Goethals

 

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sunset at lake Langano where the hippos were doing their dusk dance

Ethiopia, Harar

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