by Jenny Makepeace

We are now at Lake Langano, the only Rift Valley lake free of the Bilharzia and therefore a good place to swim.

It is very quiet, a few people enjoying the beach which is so hot that its impossible to walk on barefoot, the sand is a shimmering silica.  Two well fed white horses are grazing beneath the trees.

The birds are spectacular and tame, flocks of metallic blue starlings, small horn bills, the  male white and yellow with red beak, some very golden finches, a little brown bird with an extremely long tail.

There is a dramatic bluff of cliffs many covered in yellow lichen on one side of the bay where  kites are wheeling.

We ate the soursop fruit, which has a dull green warty skin with sharp nodules, its flesh is a creamy white in vague segments which break apart easily, seeds like brown beetle.  A flavor slightly lemony, less fibrous than pineapple.

Eighty kilo meters south of Addis is a reservoir which provides hydro power and irrigation for acres of poly tunnels producing flowers and open strawberry fields – 8 birr for two big punnets.

Chai stop on the major intersection to Awash, Hara, Addis Ababa. Have this am seen two disc harrows and a John Deere bailer. The pollution is dreadful with hundreds of lorries and buses at check points belching out fumes.

There is a curfew in Addis preventing commercial traffic entering the city until after 7pm so they all pile up on the perimeter roads.

After checking into the Global we returned to the Italian restaurant where Eskinder joined us after dinner.  We discussed the problems of this Ethiopia.  He believes its is improving and that tourism represents a significant part of that.

E employs 15 people directly which indirectly benefiting at least 45. He agrees that viewing the tribal people as a spectacle is not ideal but thinks within a decade that might change, difficult to understand how.

One of the remarks made by the Mursi man writing for the South Omo Museum was that he wanted the outside world to spend time with them as a tribe and not to just take a quick photo and leave.

Trouble is that once they realize that their extraordinary lifestyle is photogenic and of great interest to western visitors as a spectacle, they are going to cash in on the opportunity – this being one of the only ways they get hard cash, even if it is only then spent on alcohol.

I suppose one way to solve the problem may be to have a tourist village typical of the tribal way of life. Hopefully they can still operate their customs and where a fixed fee is charged to tourists.

They can be allowed to wander about, take photographs and get closer to these people as human beings, perhaps sharing a drink and having a resident interpreter.

The  money earned could be used for anything they need apart from alcohol.  This system has worked in other places in the world which have threatened ethnic groups such as Yunnan in China, India and North American Indians.

It makes a visit more relaxed and the competitive element of  hoping to get your photograph taken disappears. Maybe the point of payment should be at the entrance to the National Park, an extra fee could be charged for video filming, then the tribes need not get involved with handling the money directly.

If the tribal people are able to make and sell genuine artefacts, a proper little market could be set up.

The great herds of cattle roaming dusty deserts are said to be nomadic, but there is little evidence of this, much evidence of them returning to villages in the evenings.  Nomads might be thought to be taking their families, goods and chattels with them, usually there is one or two small boys with the herds only.

Massive earthquake in Haiti – Port o Prince at its centre.

Jenny’s final travel diary on her Ethiopian journey will be featured on the next part.

Eskinder Hailu - Manager, Highway Tours

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