face and body painting
cuisine for tsetse flies
had warned me about the Mursi people. It was an echo of the Lonely
Planet write up. After
reading it, I felt sufficiently warned and made my careful preparations
for the visit. Off came the watch, glasses, ring, and money belt.
These things as well as my zoom lens were locked in the truck. I carried
my camera and my camera bag strapped around my neck. My wallet, with
a zillion birr, was zipped inside the camera case.
also made his preparations. There were some Mursi villages he refused
to go to for safety issues. (The Mursi in some places stole cameras
out of your hands.) Eventually, we were ready to face the Mursi, and
it was amazing!
women didn't have lip plates on when we arrived. Their lower lips
simply dangled from their mouths kind of like long orange peelings.
If the real reason for doing this originally was to make their women
undesirable for slavers, well . . . I think it worked. The lips were
by far the most interesting feature about the women. None of the Mursi
men were around. (Apparently they were farming or with the cattle.)
It was our loss. We also didn't see any traditional home in any kind
of traditional village. However, the Mursi boys were also interesting.
Just like the men, they didn't wear anything. Some had sticks, jewelry,
and unique face painting. By far their most interesting feature was
their ears. They wore plugs or plates to elongate the lobes in similar
ways to the way the women stretched their lower lips.
Mursi were the most aggressive models I'd ever experienced. They continually
grabbed at my arms (it was easy to see how watches could disappear)
and blocked my way as well as any football player. I came close to
smacking a few of them. When the photos were done, it was time for
sales. What could they possibly have to sell? Clay lip plates. They
would be exotic candleholders in my home - and what a steal! I bought
five - fresh from the fire and still hot - for just over a dollar.
The Lonely Planet further explained a little of what I had just experienced.
"For many of the ethnic groups raiding is a part of life - a means
of survival in a very harsh environment. In Karo language the word
'thief' does not exist. Children are encouraged at a young age to
pilfer - and beaten only if caught. Some of the people are master
thieves; things can disappear before your eyes in broad daylight."
the morning, instead of taking the direct route up the mountain to
Jinka, we had a game drive. There were a couple of problems. The first
one being most of the game had been hunted down a long time ago. There
were a few wart hogs, dik dik, and a couple of water buck antelope.
Certainly nothing new. I guess there actually was game - us - and
that was the bigger problem. Mago Park was infested with tsetse flies.
Those nasty creatures were twice the size of normal houseflies and
way more evil. They could and did bite through clothing, causing welts
twice the size of mosquito bites. Gentle brushing away of the flies
didn't do any good. They were persistent - in your face - not to mention
legs, back, collar, and arms. Very few were ever squashed prior to
the attack. At one point, as I stomped one into a long smear on the
floor mat, Johnny said, "No! No! No killing in the national park."
That was advice I wasn't about to abide - even though a ranger with
an AK-47 sat directly behind me in the truck.
Well, actually several swats! My limit of endurance was hit (or bit!)
I told Johnny I didn't want to see any animals. I wanted to leave
Mago Park and the tsetse flies immediately. No more touring, no more
animals, no uncertain terms. We rolled up the truck windows, enduring
the heat, until we reached a higher, non-infested elevation on the
way to Jinka.