The market at Key Afar was actually our first stop on the Lower Omo – this blog is not following any chronological order – and although we’d prepared ourselves for it, and read what the guidebook had to say, we were not ready for the ensuing bombardment of senses. It was a bit like stepping into an alien arena. There were people, goods for sale of every imaginable kind, goats, cows, motorbikes and tuk tuks everywhere.
The local people, mainly Banna, Hamar, and Tsemay, were going about their normal market business, which was fascinating to watch. In addition we noticed that there were also a few men and women dressed up slightly more smartly and ornately (not that the others were not ornate), and it became obvious that these people made a bit of a living by being paid by tourists for having their photographs taken. Now, think what you will about this, and I hope to write a post about the ethics/psychology of photographing local people in the coming days, but we regarded it as all part of the deal, so to speak, and so we took a few photos and paid our money where appropriate.
There was no problem with taking general photos of the market, and we did this without cost.
China has a considerable involvement in Ethiopia at the present time. When we asked about, say, a new bit of road, the answer was often that it had been built by the Chinese, and the same with new factories, etc. There was part of Key Afar which was known as China market – selling cheap plastic goods.
You can’t really see it in the photo above, but this was a bar where people were drinking beer/honey wine out of gourds. I thought about trying some, but then decided not to – it looked pretty slimy.
The market at Dimeka (Hamar, Karo, Banna people, etc), which we visited a couple of days later, was even more chaotic and exotic, or so it seemed to us ferenjis. There was one bit where several snuff ladies sold their goods. They seemed to be having a great laugh. I was about to try some snuff when someone said, “Be careful with that. You don’t really know what it is!” so I only had a tiny amount.
This truck was loading up with women who had finished for the day, and were heading home.
Some of the gourds on sale were very attractive, but I didn’t want to by something created only for tourists. Instead I bought the scruffiest gourd I could see. When you take the top off, there’s a pungent smell of stale honey wine.