Ethiopia map:
Turmi, Ethiopia
Feb 11, 2005

People of Turmi



Sunset in Turmi

People of Turmi

People of Turmi

People of Turmi

People of Turmi

After Omorate, Turmi feels almost cosmopolitan.  It's the small things that make the difference.  The kids on the street play soccer with an actual soccer ball.  In Omorate, the kids played soccer with a ball made of rags that had been stitched together.  And here in Turmi, a few of the buildings seem like they might actually be made of concrete.

In the morning on my first day in Turmi, four trucks filled with ferengis (white people) zoomed into my hotel parking lot.  Then the zoomed right back out again.  Zoom, zoom, zoom...  Ethiopians do nothing but sit.  Foreigners seem to be in quite a hurry even on vacation. 

I guessed that the tourists were headed to the other hotel in town.  For a moment, I was tempted to find them -- but, only for a moment.  Seeing the white people caused me to ask myself if I was lonely.  The question was half-answered almost immediately.  I'm not lonely enough to want to talk to boring tourists. 

No, I don't think that I'm lonely - I'm almost overwhelmed by the overall experience in the Omo valley.  The heat is intense.  I'm surrounded by Hammer people - decorated in beads and shells, wearing goatskins, with feathers sticking out of their hair, and in body paint.  Today at lunch, I finished my meal, but one of the prostitutes cracked open the goat bones, and insisted that I eat the marrow - it's a local delicacy that I haven't tried before. 

While walking around Turmi, I suddenly had a tingling feeling.  I have an almost 6th sense for finding good local bars.  I walked through the door of a small place with a sign in Amharic, sat down next to four Hammer women, dressed as they do in goatskins, shells, and heavy metal jewelry, and ordered what they were drinking.  There were a half- dozen other people in the bar including a cute.  petite prostitute with a huge protruding ass, and a crazy old Hammer woman who had drunk too much and was ranting in the local language.  The drink I ordered turned out to be a nice fruity alcohol made from honey called "Tej".  This bar was definitely more upscale than the one in Omorate - the Tej came in a glass bottle, rather than a rusty tomato tin.

I need to stop, and talk about asses for a minute.  I don't mean to be crude, but this is a local phenomenon that deserves at least a paragraph or two.  The words "huge", "gigantic", "protruding", and "an ass the size of Texas" only begin to describe of some of the butts you find around Africa.  The locals say that you can balance a beer bottle on top of a truly great African ass -- and I believe it.

In the afternoon, a truck pulled into town and parked in the main square, right in front of my hotel.  On the truck were a TV, a VCR, and a generator.  About 80 people gathered around to watch an AIDs educational video.  With all the prostitutes around here, AIDs education is a very necessary thing.  I don't know if this project is sponsored by the government or an NGO, but I'm glad to see someone is making an effort to bring AIDs education into these small villages. 

On my second day in Turmi, three missionaries rolled into town.  They're part of the same group of German missionaries who I met in Omorate.  I, of course, got involved in yet another religious debate.  When I said that I didn't believe in God, the locals who were Christians were shocked.  They had never heard such a thing before.  But later in the day, a Muslim man complimented me on the part of the debate where I argued against the trinity - "You're right," he agreed.  "How can Jesus be _God_?"

I'm really enjoying my time in Ethiopia.  The people are super-friendly, the food is good, and the women are beautiful.  I asked the question about loneliness before - I'm definitely not lonely.  The locals never give me a chance to get lonely.  I'm constantly surrounded by people, and have new adventures daily.  But, like India, Ethiopia is exhausting.  I have no personal space, and no privacy.  The constant attention, and constant begging, is draining.  Occasionally, I need to retreat to my room just to be alone for a while.  But even then, one of my neighbors in the hotel might poke his head in my window to say "hello" and start up a conversation.

I have been unable to check my email for several weeks, and have heard no news in that time.  Do I miss it?  Not really.  Though, I do wonder what major world events I've missed, and am curious what happened with the Iraq election, which happened a few weeks ago.

The trip from Nairobi to Addis Ababa was interesting enough that I wrote it up as a daily log.  If you'd like to read it from the beginning click here:  [ Leaving Nairobi ]

Leave a comment!  I'm much more inspired to write when I know people are reading. 

Michelle - May 04, 2005

Are people boring just because theyre tourists?!  And youre not one?!

Tim Meier - May 05, 2005

The problem Michelle, is that you are classifying tourists as the same, regardless of the duration of their stay and individual travel experiences. 

Imagine being in a spiritual debate with a missionary for say, the two thousandth time.  It would get a little old.

Michelle - May 05, 2005

I know that coz Ive been travelling quite much also myself.  But its just that some people doesnt have the opportunity to travek for long times.  Like we have done...  who cares.

Michelle - May 05, 2005

And were ALWAYS tourists.  It doesnt matter if weve travelled for six years...or for two weeks.

Adam - May 06, 2005


You're right.  "Boring" is an unfair word to use - it's a horrible generalization.

However...  people who are on two week vacations, and have only a few hours to spend in towns like Turmi and Omorate have very different experiences than the one that I was in the middle of.  I didn't feel like I had much in common with them, and had no desire to talk to them.

In Arba Minch (3 journal entries from now) I took a ride in a privately hired landrover.  I'll write about that experience, and how it differs from the way that I usually travel.


mo - May 10, 2005

yay!  finally got caught up on your latest adventures.

they sounds amazing as usual!  can i ask a strange request?  can you post a photo of yourself?  i haven't seen you in ages :)

did you get your care package yet?


Nope, no care package yet.

The latest photo of me can be found here - looking like a sore thumb in a local bar in Omorate.  [ photo ]


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