Ethiopia Photo diary from Omo Valley

May 4, 2017

 

The minute I saw their photos, I became obsessed with them. The obsession continued throughout the years and made me restless. It became part of my thoughts, bound to become reality soon... everything has it's own time and that time finally came...Omo…Name that was always on my mind..The most mysterious part of Ethiopia... Completely different from each other by traditions, language, behavior, appearance, these tribes are scattered across one huge valley. What they have in common is amazing sense of esthetics.
First question that aroused was -where can I get visa? I called up a friend- it appeared that he had more to say that what I expected.
-You know, Mindia, our first ambassador was just assigned in Ethiopia and I will try to arrange meeting with him for you.
And I got to meet the Ambassador.
Such a precious feeling when project is just starting and you feel all the encouragement and support from people around you.That was exactly how Ambassador VakhtangJaoshvili said good buy to me: We will meet in Adis! (Addis Ababa)

There are tons of things that need to be done for this kind of project: visas, tickets, printing, gallery space, and last but not least: finances... I got few sponsors' back and path to project fulfillment was paved. TBC Bank, LiveTime, Photo Center, Gurieli, National Museum of Georgia and Georgian Embassy in Ethiopia- They all wanted the project to come out successful and now everything depended on me.
Got call- visa arrived. My heartbeat changed for a second I went there and saw that instead of February, it said- January! When I got my passport with visa, it was already third week of January. Nothing is accidental- I guess I had to be in Georgia in February...

 

My passport travelled back and forth to Tbilisi- Ankara, but Ethiopian Embassy in Ankara just wouldn't admit and fix mistake. Time went by, no answer. Ministry of Foreign Affair really tried to fix the problem.
-You have no idea what is going on in here, but I'll try my best so you get the visa at the border- said Mr. Shako Datiashvili, our councilmen in Ethiopia. He told me about a place where I had to pick up my papers, but believe me, it's pretty hard to describe the chaotic scene of the office there. Wayward line was stretched from the building to nearby street, can't even imagine what was going on inside...Finally, after plastering them with multiple requests, I got the answer- Mindia, you can come now. I was on the plane in two days. Without the hard work of our Councilman, my Ethiopia would've been farther and farther from me.

Mursi, Ari, Tsamai, Dassanech, Karo, Dorze, Arbore, Hamer...some of the tribes that reside on this valley. It's called Omo... It was called Crossroads of cultures of different countries, south part of Ethiopia. Out of all places in Africa, Omo was always without competition for me.
Thousand thoughts were crossing my mind. How? when? where? and so on... I had to clear all the details in Adis. Everything worked out like a clockwork. I felt rush of energy and I started following my dream step by step...

-How long until you get here? -Texted the driver. Super punctual person, (not really) named Dejeen, DJ in short...
Capital is 2355m (7,725ft) above the sea level, so temperature is very Spring-like. We are going towards south, where Omo's blistering hot valley is waiting for me...8 hours to first destination, but time doesn't go conventionally while looking around and shooting new places.

 

I really like the way houses are layered across the road-you can see whole village in front of you.
Of course their main road is the only road, which makes me happy:)
It's getting hotter, climate is changing and Africa is getting closer...We are following banana plantations for few hours. Baboons are staring at us unhappily, since we are interfering with their relaxation right in the middle of the road.

 

We have to turn toChencha. Thats's where Dorsi Tribe (knitters) village is located. Huts that resemble elephant heads are hiding in palm trees, with smoky interiors and relevant aromas. At the entrance of the village situation is quite annoying and touristy: Dorsi people trying to impress with their skills, get photographed and paid in Biri.

Here is a little info about local guides: every village has a guide. You can't enter a place without them. You have to pay to village and to a guide separately, which makes sense- you do need a guide to interact with locals, but I have to say, very few of them are really helpful. They are trying to finish up with you in 15 minutes, interrupting whenever they can- during photoshoot, etc.
My first guide announced very shortly that our tour was over! :))))) He had high hopes it was finished, but I literally charged inside like a bull- to shoot of course!
-Are you tired?
-no!
-can you walk fast?
-yes, of course!
-then come with me and show me the REAL village. This facade is not interesting to me.
He was pretty sure he would get rid of me soon, so he agreed. It makes me laugh writing this, cause after 2 hours he walked panting to my driver and com