BootsnAll Travel Network

Turmi: The Garden of Eden in the Desert.

In the guide books, they describe Turmi as the most tourist friendly village in the lower Omo Valley. The hotels are still fairly basic, but they are clean, all have showers, and some of them served pasta. P A S T A. Let’s see, three weeks of Injeera and meat, food poisoning, and the option of pasta pops up out of nowhere. Noa and I were in heaven. She was already having a bit of a hard time as they had just landed in Africa (Addis Ababa) a week before and had spent two days on a bus getting to Jinka. She had done some rough travels before, but to start out with the South Omo definitely is a test of the wills.

We chose our hotel and the manager turned out to be an excellent guy. He told us the price, but when we showed him the price in our guide book (which is always wrong as they are usually a year or two old at the least), but he quickly said no problem it was an issue between the hotel and the guidebook, and not us. We were shocked. They got us settled into our rooms and then we got our food ordered. Four pastas. When we got to the restaurant they had this huge spread for us. We each had our own plate of pasta, there was a community pot of sauce, a big plate of bread, and a huge bowl of salad. The sodas were cold, the food was excellent, and all of a sudden we were nothing but smiles.

The next day was market day and it turned out to be like Dimeka. The majority of people there were the tribes people. We got right in there and were quickly mingling with the people, playing with the kids and taking pictures to our hearts content. I did forget to mention that the going rate for pictures was one birr in Dimeka and Turmi. Juan was the first smart one to start offering one as the rest of us were still a bit shell shocked with the Mursi that we didn’t even think of offering one.

The day ended up pretty much like in Dimeka. We popped in and out of the market, taking naps throughout the day, and eating pasta with cold sodas. Life was good. Wandering the city was nice as well as the people were much more relaxed and there were a lot less touts to bother you. They learned pretty quickly that we didn’t need anything and so we were pretty much left alone.

Noa and Omrie let us know that evening that they were calling it quits. They said the reason was that Noa had promised her mom that she would e-mail in a couple of days and so they needed to get to a computer which was only available back up in Arba Minch. It was a kind of shaky excuse as they had satellite phone options but we didn’t push the issue as we knew that she wasn’t quite happy roughing it. She absolutely could not stand injeera and meat from the beginning so she was worse off than me where I started out loving the stuff and then slowly fizzled. That and the constant fight with all the touts and the uncertainty of transportation was too much. So, the next day they picked up a truck and headed out. Well, they almost headed out on that truck. They got stopped by the police check point and were told that they were not allowed to be in private vehicles. The guy was the hotel managers friend and he was willing to take them all the way to Arba Minch for almost nothing, and this was inside a Land Cruiser with just them and one other person. It was such a sweet deal that if I was offered it I might have given up to. Well, the guy ended up driving down the road a bit and waited for them to catch up, but a policeman followed them on a bike so he had to leave them. They ended up walking back sweaty and pissed. Juan and I barely could help from laughing, but it really did suck. The manager arranged another ride in the back of an Isuzu which was much less luxurious, but at that point they would have paid and taken anything. They ended up walking way down the road and then getting picked up after the truck went through the check point. I haven’t heard from them since, but hopefully they made it.

Juan and I ended up staying a couple more days just laying around and hanging out with the locals. He ended up having the same travel mentality as me so it worked out really well. I guess I am a bit more aggressive with the touts and he is a lot more giving in regards to helping out the handicapped beggars and women with children but in general we meshed pretty well.

A couple of memorable things we did was scour the market and the city looking for honey. The area is known for its honey and we wanted some. Finally we found a tribal woman that had a gourd full. The locals were asking 50 birr for a litre bottle and we ended up getting a gourd full for ten. It was the best kind with the wax still in it and bits of bee parts. Eating the wax was just like candy. You sucked the honey out while you chewed and then spit out the wax. It was sooo good. The other fun thing was when we decided we would go local and do our washing down at the river bed with the women folk. We grabbed our laundry, bought some soap, and headed down to the dry river bed. When we got there it was kind of embarrassing and kind of lucky when we came upon a group of teenage girls who were bathing in the same area. These weren’t the tribal woman, but some of the local girls. It was a bit naughty, but nice. They giggled a lot when we flirted with them and then busted out laughing when we tried to dig our holes to search for water. Since there was no rain for a few days, you have to dig a hole until the water starts filling. We didn’t quite know what we were doing as the water was really dirty and the sides kept tumbling in causing more silt. The girls laughed and then started showing us how to do it. First you need a scooper or a cup. You dig a wide hole and then in the center you start going deeper. The sides you round off so that it doesn’t cave in. As the water starts filling you use the cup to scoop out the water. You keep doing this until the silt is removed and the water starts running clear. Once that it is filled, then you can do your laundry. Once they got us started they had to leave so we were on our own again. We tried, but the water just got muddy again, so we gave up and headed over to the water pump where people fill their water jugs. We helped the locals pump the water until everybody was caught up and then we did our laundry. It was cheating, but we tried.

The next day we figured it was time to go so we started the usual process of putting the word out, negating the over priced offers, and leaving our price out there for them to ponder. Like usual it worked and we were off.

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