Ethiopia 2011 Day 05

Woke up early and started the day with our new best friend – Ethiopian coffee! While making our coffee, our barista Jemal told us about himself and his family. He was married with a son (who’s name means Love) and despite his age he attends the school that we visited the day before. He works at the hotel in the mornings and evenings and know that an education is the only way he can ensure a good future for his son. Kind of starts you off in the right frame of mind when your barista is as motivated as Jemal.

We left the hotel at 6:30 and headed off to the Mago National Park where the Murci Tribe live. We had heard a lot about this tribe and were really excited about seeing them. Stories and photos can’t prepare you for actually meeting them face to face. Just before reaching the village we came across three teenage boys along the road. They were naked with their bodies painted with white paint (made from gypsum) in spiral and geometric designs.

When we got to the village we me with the tribal elders and negotiated with them to take their photos. We gave them a gift of razors which they use for grooming. The Murci men are proud warriors and the woman – despite their disturbing lip plates – are quite beautiful. In fact, our guide Daniel explained that their beauty is why they have their lip plates. Hundreds of years ago other tribes would kidnap the Murci women and take them back to their villages to be their wives. So the Murci men inserted plates in the women’s lips so they would not be attractive to other tribes. Now the lip plates are considered beautiful and the women create and decorate their own plates to be the most beautiful. The bigger the plate, the higher the status of the woman. Clearly beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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